Confusion surrounds Tokafalo programme

Member of Parliament for Goodhope-Mabule constituency, James Mathokgwane sparked a heated debate in the national assembly this week after he punched holes into government’s stated extent of the Tokafala programme’s funding and beneficiaries.

Tokafala is a partnership between government, Anglo American, De Beers and Debswana, aimed at promoting economic development and employment creation through Small Macro Medium Enterprises (SMME) support.

Minister for Trade and Industry Vincent Seretse contradicted himself on Wednesday after Mathokgwane asked him for details on the 63 companies that the minister, in his committee of supply speech, said had been enrolled under the programme, at a cost of P63 million.

When presenting the speech, Seretse stated that as part of the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), Tokafala was one of the enterprises implemented to increase the level of productivity in the local SMME’s sector, by leveraging on existing programmes in Botswana.

“The Tokafala programme, a collaboration between Anglo American and Botswana Government has been sponsored with P63 million for 63 companies which has created 585 jobs,” he said.  Seretse added that from these, about 40 percent of them were women, who included youth. “The areas of focus for this programme include provision of finance, debt and equity, advisory services and mentoring,” he said.

Debating the committee of supply speech afterwards, Mathokgwane asked Seretse to state the 63 companies that   had been enrolled under the programme. In response, Seretse however sang a different tune and claimed he knew nothing about the Tokafala programme. Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi then intervened, saying he was aware of the programme and its existence and that Seretse might not be aware of it since he was still new in the Ministry. 

When contacted for comment, the Tokafala programme manager, Victor Mong’gae said they did not fund companies but rather assisted them with mentorship and business plan development. He further said 32 companies have been enrolled for their four-month workshop, in which only 13 graduated to the next stage of the mentorship programme.

“Tokafala currently packages loan applications on behalf of their participants. They then take them to financers, that include Barclays Bank, the Citizen Empowerment Development Agency, Banc ABC, Bank Gaborone and First National Bank, for assessment,” he said. 

Mathokgwane also claimed that there was a certain bank account that had been set up in America, which belonged to Tokafala.  According to the copy of the ‘Agreement in respect of the funding of programme’, Tokafala has a bank account at the Bank of America in the USA under the name ‘TechnoServe, Inc, Account number 2-24881-6, Branch 48 Wall Street, Norwalk, CT 06850’.

Mong’gae however said he was not aware of the Bank of America bank account.

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