In an effort to address socio-economic hardships confronting people living with disabilities, the government of Botswana earlier this year introduced a monthly disability allowance for local inhabitants challenged by disabilities. It has however emerged that many people with disabilities have been turned away and declared ineligible for this allowance which was due to be paid to beneficiaries starting in April 2015 when the provision for this allowance became effective.
Rehabilitation officer and Disability focal person for the Boteti Sub District Council Mr Ramosesane Mathodi has revealed that to qualify for the allowance, one has to be fully assed and go through a rigorous qualification process, however not many disabled people qualify and many are rejected during this process “the provision is very clear and only caters for severe and profound disability and not every disability, not every disabled person will qualify” he said.
It is this provision that classifies those challenged by disability into the ‘severe and profound disabilities’ category that has opened a can of worms. Kaboyaone Matlho who was born without hands, feet or legs has complained that he was recently returned from a disability office in Gaborone and told that he is not eligible for the monthly allowance as he is a well-known talent singer.
He said he was informed that the allowance is reserved only for those with ‘severe and profound’ disability and those who have no means of income, in his response Mathodi said that while he understands Matlho’s grievances fully, this is an issue raised by many disabled persons who have been rejected, it is a contentious issue which he says they are still addressing internally.
Matlho felt that if a man born without limbs does not qualify for the allowance then in his view it is not truly meant for disabled people, but those with severe conditions who are in hospitals and unable to function at all “I think it is safe to say only those with severe illnesses and confined to hospital beds will qualify, if a man with no hands and feet and is in constant need of care and assistance does not qualify” he said. He felt that the provision inherently discriminates against disabled persons as it does not recognize that many of them are fully ad functional human beings. He said it was hard for him to understand what profound disability is in this case, as many people with profound disabilities are functional and able to start a means of income, regardless of their daily challenges.
He said he was hoping that they will sort out the problem so that he will be assisted together with others in a similar position. Mathodi has responded by saying that while the provision is very strict as to who can get the allowance he was hoping that Kabo will be enrolled.
“I will consult with my superiors to see how we can help Mr Matlho as in my opinion he should benefit” He said disability officers and focal persons across the country were planning to meet with the authorities in Gaborone to lobby for a change in the provision as many people living with disabilities have been rejected.
He also revealed to this publication that those who have been screened and qualify will start receiving their monthly disability allowance next month (September) backdated to April 2015. He said that this initiative experienced some delays since its introduction in April and that they are now done sorting out impediments and modalities “the allowance due to those people challenged by severe disability will start being credited next month, all arrangements are now in place and they should start being paid in September 2015 and we have agreed that they will get back pay, backdated to April this year” he said.
He said the allowance, P300 monthly pay will apply retroactively, only to those who have been assessed and passed all the qualification stages.
He said that his office which caters for People-Living -With –Disabilities covering the whole of the Boteti Sub District currently has 546 people registered. “my offices is responsible for taking care of the needs of people with disabilities from Mokubilo to Makalamabedi and all of the small settlements across Boteti and this is where all the people we work with come from” he said.
He said he is responsible for connecting People-Living -With –Disabilities to developments and government service in his area “I deal with people challenged by all sorts of disabilities, some of the disability came about because of diseases, some of it due to accidents and some clients were born disabled, while some of it, its causes unknown” He said. He said that the majority of those registered with his office are learners with intellectual disability “majority of the 546 persons under my care suffer from intellectual disability. On a daily basis, I link them with social services and ensure that they have access to educational opportunities as well as advocate for their rights. If they are deaf, I ensure that they receive proper sign language training and connect them to other relevant government departments” he said.
He said that he was happy that some of his clients were recently awarded the youth development fund while some have graduated from destitution to self-sustenance “I also view it as a success that we have so many people coming out to register, in the past disabled people were hidden from sight by family members and stayed indoors. Things are changing and we are happy to be able to help them as many of them are talented and can live meaningful lives if they know which government services to access and take advantage of to develop their talents” he said.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.