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Gov’t fails to recover P400 million YDF loans

The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development (MYSEC) Permanent Secretary (PS) Kago Ramokate has revealed that his ministry is owed around P400 million by the the beneficiaries of the Youth Development Fund (YDF).

Ramokate said this when appearing before the Public Accounts committee (PAC) this week. He said when the youth scheme was introduced it was a 100 per cent grant aimed at giving out money to empower youth in small businesses. This nonetheless has since changed with beneficiaries being expected to payback 50 per cent of the grant.Ramokate however pointed out that they are faced with a challenge of youths who fail to pay back the money given out to them.

“On average the ministry disburses almost P114 million every year and we estimated to get P6million but we have managed to receive only P2.8 million. I do not have the exact figures but we are owed around P400million,” Ramokate was responding to PAC member and Specially Elected legislator Mephato Reatile who wanted to know how much the youth businesses owe government ever since the roll out of the program in 2009.

From the presentation it is clear that the government has spent a whooping billion pula into the program. The YDF’s objective is to empower young people by giving them micro-financing on the projects. The accounting officer however said despite the youth owing the government, there are no accelerated efforts on the part of government to push them to pay.

 “At the moment there are no plans for them to pay, otherwise they use our various branches to pay,” he answered PAC member Prince Maele who wanted to know if there are measure in place like debit order to facilitates for payment. Ramokate indicated that in their engagements with young people they have tried hard to show them the importance of being responsible citizens.

 Ramokate explained the major problem is mostly encountered by government is youth funded businesses that collapse or those that do not do well hence difficulty to refund the government. “Some business collapses and it is difficult to get the loan back, we only repossess the assets and we sell them through public auction,” he said. Responding to another questions posed by Reatile, Ramokate cited that they do not have records of the young people who owe them.

“There are certain records available but not all of them. We are working tirelessly in putting the records together. This is a process that will take a long time to be processed,” explained Ramokate. PAC members however pointed out that the ministry should make an effort to follow-up on their debts. Maele stated he is worried about the youth ministry, indicating that it is a ministry that carries a lot of promises but fail to deliver.

Another PAC member Ndaba Gaolathe voiced that the youth ministry is failing to empower young people considering the contrasting figures of success and survival rates. “You should think carefully about the model, if you talk about 86% survival rates and half a million owed and not being able to churn businesses that are able to pay loans. What you are telling me is you are failing to empower the youth,” he said.

The YDF aimed at curbing high unemployment rate in the country has just like other initiatives like Poverty Eradication attracted backlash from the public, simply because there are no monitoring tools in place. This saw the PAC member Abraham Kesupile suggesting YDF promotes laze-fare in the youth who should be working hard for the assistance they get from government.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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