The Chairman for the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Governance and Social Welfare, Honest Buti Billy and his committee of four Members of Parliament (MPs) have ruled that the Government’s poverty eradication initiatives have failed.
The committee points out to the clashing of laws and policies as one of the reasons that led to the initiatives failing to transform the lives of the beneficiaries as intended. The committee which is made up of MPs who had previously served at Local Government as councillors was addressing social workers, Community Development Officers, Home Economists, Ward Development Committee members and other stakeholders in Selebi Phikwe on Wednesday morning.
The committee is made up of former mayors of the City of Francistown, Buti Billy and Ignatius Moswaane, who are now MPs for Francistown east and west respectively as well as former mayor of Gaborone, Haskins Nkaigwa, and now MP for Gaborone North. The only member of the committee who is not a former mayor is Bagalatia Aarone, the Member of Parliament for Okavango. The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee is currently on tour around the county to hold consultative meetings with relevant Local Government authorities and departments to have interaction with service providers to determine challenges in the delivery of Social services and to look into issues of governance as wells as to appreciate some of the successes.
The committee is mandated to exercise oversight over Departments under the portfolio of the Ministry of Local Government and Social Welfare. The Chairperson of the committee, Billy noted that the feedback that they get from the people at the face of the challenges will help inform the reviewing of policies and guidelines in the framework for the delivery of social services. Billy pointed out that that while the reports on the delivery of poverty eradication initiatives are very impressive on paper, the same initiatives have not transformed the lives of the beneficiaries hence the need to consult with relevant stakeholders to find out what makes the projects fail.
The chairman gave example of failed projects such as Backyard Garden, noting that the backyard garden is good but is not a project that can transform the people’s lives. He also noted that the policy that stipulates provision of allowances for Village and Ward Development Committees must be changed to introduce salaries as opposed to allowances. He emphasized the important work done by the VDC’s in the delivery of social services, saying they work 24 hours and that calls for proper remuneration.
He added that there is need to openly critique and speak the truth about the barriers that hinder the successful delivery of social services to the people. He mentioned restrictions on the guidelines used by social workers to identify the needy as well as centralisation of services as one of the bottlenecks that frustrates the service standards. Billy said that many of Government policies and laws are conflicting, rendering service delivery stagnant. The Francistown East MP remarked that some of policies do not help in empowering the people to be able to self-sustain themselves.
He described the Children’s Act as a blind act and one of the laws that needs to be revised as it seems to recognise only the mother as the parent to the child. He pointed out that there are many children who have been registered as orphans to access social services even though their fathers are alive and can take good care of them. He said such loopholes only serves to create more mouths for the Government to feed hence the Government is creating poverty. “Government is creating poverty and then spend more money on fighting poverty,” he said.
Gaborone North Member of Parliament, Haskins Nkaigwa revealed that the Public Health Act which does not allow cooking and sale of food in open public spaces collides with the Presidential directive that allows for such activities. For his part Francistown West Member of Parliament, Ignatius Moswaane added that the presidential directive also allows small businesses to sell food at all Government Departments yet this is in conflict with the Public Health Act and the bye-law regulations. Billy however also criticised the dependency syndrome prevailing among Batswana. “Dependency syndrome is a disease worse than HIV/AIDS. If we depend on Government so much, our children will also grow up with their minds conditioned to accept the ideology of being dependents,” he said.
Recommendations from the people
The social workers and the VDC/WDC’s present at the meeting shared the challenges they encounter in the delivery of the social services in Selebi Phikwe. One of the recommendations was that beneficiaries of the poverty eradication initiatives must be allowed to present their own business ideas and be assessed instead of having to only accept the already identified initiatives on which they do not have sense of ownership.
Street Vendors were stated as the rightful people to uplift and develop as entrepreneurs as they have already showed interest in doing business. Educating more efficiently destitute first before giving them business projects have been noted as critical. It was argued that the elderly people who has never had prior training on basics of running a business is counter-productive as the projects fail to take off or fail shortly after having been established.
Monitoring and evaluation of the projects is also one of the critical aspects that was identified as tool ensure the projects grow and to unleash the intended value and purpose. It was also recommended that Government must re-look at the now ignored Sustainable Livelihoods Community Development initiative which sought to look at what the community can use within their community to create livelihoods for themselves as opposed to the current poverty eradication initiatives which seems to promote dependency on Government. Social and Community Development (S&CD) tenders for the school uniform and other clothing for needy children must be awarded to Selebi Phikwe based business for accessibility by the children to be able to fit and choose the clothes they want.
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.