Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has for the past 10 years blown over P6 billion on the controversial Ipelegeng relief program, Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) was told this week.
Ipelegeng is a Government Initiative whose main objective is to provide short term employment support and relief whilst at the same time carrying out essential development projects that have been identified and prioritised through the normal development planning process. It targets unskilled and semi-skilled labour for short-term assistance due to other economic factors through the use of simple tools and machinery. The programme focuses on maintenance of public facilities.
Ipelegeng is targeted mainly at being a source of supplementary income and employment to, but not limited to, vulnerable members of the community. Currently the programme targets at engaging a total of 50,000 beneficiaries per month. However despite this, a number of economists and politicians have scrutinised the program arguing that it is wasting public funds. The project for 2016/17 financial year targeted 770,292 recipients at a budget of P612, 964,380 per year.
For the past 10 years since the project took-off, it has gobbled P6, 1 billion. This pressed PAC member Dithapelo Keorapetse to question the sustainability of the project, arguing that, the money could have been channeled to projects that could create long-term employment.
“It has been said in the past that programs like Ipelegeng should be reviewed. It is difficult to say, but, yes, it should be reviewed. But it can be coordinated in a manner that it could help in the National Development Plan or District Development Plan, not just sweeping streets or cutting grass,” Permanent Secretary at MLGRD Boipelo Khumomatlhare said.
He continued, “If we do take some of the projects under NDP to Ipelegeng then it will be fine. If you are constructing some buildings, then people hired should be skilled and that is when Ipelegeng should assist.” The accounting officer, Khumomatlhare was again at pains when asked about the logic behind the Poverty Eradication program. “I do concur with you [MPs] some of these programmes need to be reviewed.
Under Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) those under the programs should be given contracts to supply either school or any government institution. We should do away with those that are not sustainable. Parts of the component should be reviewed,” he admitted. However it was not revealed how much has been spent on poverty eradication program.
OLD AGE PENSION REVIEWED
The MLGRD has further revealed that a working committee has been set-up to look at how best to deal with old age pension scheme. The government, apart from being 65 years old, wants to have other requisites for one to get the P430 allowance. In the past studies have revealed that the economy could be able to pay up P1000-P1500. It is argued that the money is little and therefore those are well-off and 65 years should be exempted from being beneficiaries.
In South Africa for instance, the social department check your financial status for one to qualify while in other countries the pension increases as beneficiaries get older. “There is working team doing desktop research and progress is ongoing and in SADC we can go to Namibia and South Africa for benchmarks,” the PS said.
DESTITUTES NUMBER INCREASING
The government has also revealed that the budget for helping destitute continue to rise. This, Khumomatlhare, has linked it to fraud by some beneficiaries who after being assisted with other programmes like Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) forge to gobble money claiming to be destitute, even when they are no longer qualify to benefit. The support program’s objective is to eradicate destitution by providing resources to the poor.
“We are getting worried by the increasing numbers while we have other programs we enroll them and are able to earn income. We are creating a single registry that will for all the beneficiaries. It will check those that benefit in one or two programs, and then it will be easy for us to remove others from destitute programme. There are some who have openly admitted because if you are doing well in LIMID you are no longer a needy you can sustain yourself,” he said.
The Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni says the search to appoint the Ombudsman and other critical heads of department is currently ongoing and the process is expected to be completed before end of the year.
The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.
Two Batswana nationals have been arrested in Zimbabwe for illegal trade in mercury. The duo is being held together with a Zimbabwean national who is being questioned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
This publication understands that the suspects who are aged between 39 and 56 years hail from Tutume and Selebi-Phikwe. At the time of the arrest, they were found in possession of a pistol, bomb motor and four live rounds. It is understood that the suspects told investigators during interrogation that the deadly substance has a lucrative market in Far East countries, where the demand is high. It is further reported that the suspects claimed that the mercury can be easily accessed in mines through middleman.
The Namibian Lives Matter Movement has weighed in on the looming border dispute between their country and Botswana.
Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.”