Saturday, October 24, 2020

Auditor General dispatched to CEDA

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has dispatched Auditor General to go and examine the financials and operations at the government owned Citizen Economic empowerment agency – CEDA (Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency).

Sunday Standard can confirm that this is one of the pre-conditions set by the ministry before the minister could confirm Dr. Thapelo Matsheka’s contract renewal for another three-year-term as Chief Executive of the agency.

Matsheka’s contract expired early this year but his job has not been advertised.
Instead of advertising his job or renewing his contract, the ministry which is well represented in the CEDA Board of Directors, has on at least two occasions extended Matsheka’s stay at CEDA by a few months before a final decision on his position could be reached by cabinet.

Sunday Standard investigations have revealed an imminent show down between CEDA Chairman, David Magang, who has already made public his stance that he prefers Matsheka’s continued stay and some members of cabinet.
Magang is a former senior minister of cabinet and a long time close friend of Festus Mogae.

To underscore the political significance of the position, there are also divisions from within cabinet over the position.

Having disbursed close to a billion Pula as part of its mandate to economically empower citizens, CEDA has become a very powerful political instrument, and some influential members of cabinet are said to be unhappy that their constituencies have not benefited enough from the empowerment largesse, and would be happy to see Matsheka go and replaced by someone who would be amenable to the idea of fast tracking CEDA projects approvals to their constituencies.

Dr. Matsheka has applied, however, applied for contract renewal despite clear Finance Ministry’s misgivings about CEDA operations, the audited results released this week give the board and management a clean bill of health.

Notwithstanding the adversities that the Botswana market has been going through and negativity with regard to a good number of portfolios, the scheme has braved the storm.

The scheme has experienced an increase in recovery of the money disbursed.

Dr. Matsheka says the observation is that with time the quality of projects submitted with CEDA has improved significantly. When the scheme started, the scheme was inundated with a swamp of projects proposals, many of them if but because there are now fewer coming CEDA says their staff are better able to even assist applicants on some technical aspects of the projects.

Matsheka, however, pointed out that there are still challenges ahead with a significant amount of projects still in arrears.

He said an even bigger challenge facing citizen businesses is that of procurement as even the government’s citizen preference schemes is not enforced.

“Many citizen companies could survive if there was access to citizen preference in government contracting. The trouble is that citizens continue to face challenges in penetrating the market,” he said.

Matsheka added that bigger companies should be obliged to sub contract their jobs to small citizen companies.

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