Ten computers stolen at BEDCO

Ten computers stolen at BEDCO

MASERU– TEN new computers meant for the youths to write business proposals have disappeared from the Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDCO).
The computers, worth M134 400, were delivered to Bedco in August last year but were never distributed to the district offices.
Curiously, it took Bedco nine months to discover that the computers were missing.

The management then waited another four months to report the matter to the police. Bedco received the computers to help the youths in the districts to submit their business proposals under the Promoting Enterprise Development (PED) programme’s Business Plan Competition.
Bedco is managing the competition, funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), with technical support from the government’s Economic Diversification Support Project (EDSP).

The competition is meant to identify young and innovative entrepreneurs who cannot implement their ideas due to a lack of funding.
Winners get M100 000 in seed money as well as training and incubation services to nurture their businesses during the start-up phase.
Previous winners have developed thriving businesses creating much-needed employment and inspiring youths and women to start their own companies.
However, entries from the districts have been limited due to a lack of computers.

The desktop computers were to be distributed at Bedco or government offices in the districts to get more youths and women to participate in the competition.
But despite the urgency and the fact that the competition was in full swing, Bedco held on to the computers for seven months.
An investigation by thepost has revealed that computers were kept in the Enterprise Development Manager’s office until they were discovered missing in May.

Bedco’s management however failed to report the matter to the police.
Pesha Shale, Bedco’s acting chief executive, confirmed that the computers have been missing since May.
Asked why it took nine months to discover that they were missing, Shale said it was because “they were kept in boxes in one office and we assumed that they were still in those boxes”.
“We only discovered that the boxes were empty when we wanted to distribute the computers in May,” Shale said.
He said they suspect the computers disappeared when the office’s roof was being repaired for a leak.

Shale said the delay to file a police report was “caused by some communication issues that include the absence of a security manager.”
“It was a communication issue, I suppose.”
He also said Bedco could not distribute the computers because of “some logistical issues and the Covid-19 lockdowns”.
“Bedco doesn’t have offices in all the districts so we had to make arrangements with other government departments to ensure the computers are installed in safe places where they can be protected,” Shale said.

Neither the board nor the Ministry of Small Businesses was immediately informed.
By Tuesday morning, the chief executive Idia Penane had not informed the board of directors.
Mamatebele Molorane, the chairperson of Bedco’s board, told thepost she was only informed of the incident by the principal secretary in the Ministry of Small Business Development, Advocate Bereng Makotoko, on Monday morning.
She said the management only reported the incident to her after she called an emergency board meeting to discuss the issue.

“We are now preparing a report for the ministry,” Molorane said.
Advocate Makotoko confirmed the incident and that the board had submitted the report.
He however said he could not give further details “lest I jeopardise the board’s work on the issue and the police investigation”.
“What I can say is that I want to get to the bottom of this issue and the culprit should face the full wrath of the law,” Advocate Makotoko said.
Sources said the EDSP, through which the AfDB funded the computers, also remained in the dark until the officials from the Auditor General’s office raised an alarm during their annual audit.

Bedco’s management only made a police report this month, four months after discovering that the computers were missing.
The police’s Criminal Investigation Department has been interviewing Bedco officials since last week.
Chaba Mokuku, who heads the EDSP through which the AfDB funded the computers, said he had been told about the incident.
“While it is still too early to make any conclusive statement because investigations are ongoing, I would say these are the incidents that frustrate our efforts to empower the youths who are clearly desperate for jobs and business opportunities,” Mokuku said.

Staff Reporter

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