The government has after serious consultations with stakeholders unanimously agreed on the creation of a Ministry responsible for social upliftment initiatives in the country, including poverty. The decision comes as the government is fighting an uphill battle of eradicating extreme poverty and breaking the inter-generational and multi-dimensional poverty.
Various captains in the fight against poverty agree with formulation of a new ministry. Currently, extreme poverty sits at 5.8 percent which equals to 116,000 people. “If you look at these statistics it shows that it is possible to eradicate poverty,” poverty eradication National Coordinator, Montshiwa Montshiwa told WeekendPost. The decision to form a ministry which will be named Ministry of Social Upliftment is enshrined in the National Poverty Eradication Strategy plan 2019-20.
Already there are three options which the coordinating office is looking at, with ministry setting-up being a long term plan. “The ministry would then have various departments including department of poverty. However this option would require a lot of resources, both financial and manpower as this would be establishment of a new ministry. As such, this would be a long-term option while resources are mobilised,” says the strategy plan.
The ministry is designed in such a way that at the top is Ministry of Social Upliftment then several departments, while the District Welfare Committee and Local Development committees complement the ministry at the bottom. The decision to have the ministry has received warm welcome from various players within the ecosystem as it is felt under the current structure where the coordinating office is housed at the Office of President (OP) with Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) responsible for governance while four ministries as implementing agencies, poverty eradication will forever be a pie in the sky, according to experts.
All the components, according to poverty eradication workshop attendees should be under one roof, that is, its own ministry and it should not be housed under MLGRD and OP as the mandate and the direction will be the same but under a new ministry. The argument from the antagonist of the current state is, OP cannot be a referee, player and match commissioner. Therefore an independent structure needs to be formulated to facilitate poverty eradication.
“We need ministry of social protection. That will be a perfect structure that would ensure proper targeting of beneficiaries and able to collect data as well as profiling who needs, what, where,” Professor Keitseope Nthomang of University of Botswana (UB) said. It is expected that this kind of structure will link many uncoordinated government efforts geared towards addressing poverty eradication. This includes monitoring and evaluation to ensure that stakeholders execute strategy efficiently and effectively.
Besides with the parent ministry formulated, it is expected as per the strategy that, the process of identifying the poor would be revamped to ensure that there are no errors of exclusion and inclusion. “Therefore identifying and profiling the poor will go a long way in ensuring that the poor are not left behind,” reads the strategy.
With the formulation of the ministry labelled a pipe-dream, for now it has been recommended that poverty will be fought using option A. The option has Rural Development Council, Coordination Unit, and Task Force, implementing ministries and district committee and local committees at the bottom.
P1.2 billion poured in poverty eradication
Meanwhile the government of Botswana has for the past eight years splashed a whooping P1.2 billion in 45 packages aimed at emancipating the locals from an ugly face of poverty. While experts and researchers are relentless on calls to review the programmes, statistics from the poverty eradication coordinating office show a nation traversing the right path.
“Within six years of inception poverty incidence has decreased from 19.3 percent to 16.3 percent, while that of people leaving under extreme poverty has reduced from 6.4 percent to 5.8 percent (116,000),” said Montshiwa who is the poverty eradication national coordinator. The programmes on annual basis guzzle P185 million from the government coffers, with each beneficiary roughly accorded P15, 000.
“More then 33 000 projects had been funded with more than 26 000 (79.3 percent) operational. Of those operation 8 percent of the businesses are successful and beneficiaries are ready to graduate,” Montshiwa said at poverty eradication workshop this week. Seeing this, the government has also drawn an exit strategy to ensure sustainability of the projects and avoid regression back to the poverty and venture into business institutions. By far 2094 beneficiaries have graduated from the programme. It is however noted that the programme is not without challenges as 1462 (4 percent) businesses failed due to various reasons.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.