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Cabinet divided over P600 scheme

Ministers fear initiative projects poor party policy image; Scheme was endorsed by Ministry before 2014 elections

The controversial Graduate Volunteer Scheme (GVS) has received mixed reactions from members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), including cabinet members over its purpose and rationality. Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture principals Okayed the scheme in October 2014.


The WeekendPost has been informed that some cabinet members are displeased with the latest scheme as they perceive the initiative as more or less a replica of the existing National Internship Program. Government introduced the GVS a week ago and announced that it targeted unemployed graduate youth who are not in the internship programme.  


The objective of the Internship Programme is to provide short-term work experience at minimal cost to the employer so that young people emerging from tertiary institutions gain practical experience of a working environment.

The programme, although criticized has managed to attract a large number of graduates and with levels of unemployment skyrocketing, others were not absorbed by the program in both the both in the public and private sectors. The programme targets government sponsored Bachelor Degree holders, while Diploma graduates are not eligible to participate in the programme.


The Ministry of Sports, Youth and Culture (MSYC) has stated that the new programme is intended to; facilitate skills development and transfer them to graduates, promote the spirit of volunteerism, contribute to community development, improve resilience of graduates as well as to reduce their idle time. After it was approved by Ministry principals in 2014, it was agreed that it had to wait for the next financial year.


With criticism piling up over duplication of government initiatives, discontent from influential cabinet ministers may finally pressure the MSYC to repeal the initiative before implementation.


The statement from the ministry had said that participants would be enrolled in areas where they had accommodation, and that emphasis would be in rural districts where there is need for service.  


The bone of contention was not only the objectives of the initiative but the P600 allowance which participants would be paid on monthly basis. Scores of the political activist have suggested that the government’s new initiative will serve as exploitation conduit because of its off-putting monthly take home.


This publication has established that the initiative was never discussed at cabinet level by the current cabinet, although the idea was conceived before last year’s general elections. WeekendPost has also learnt that former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Shaw Kgathi has indicated his discontent with the new initiative.


Member of Parliament for Tati West Guma Moyo and MP for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane are also not happy with the programme. In the heat of debate before the closure of the just ended parliament session, Moswaane expressed his desire to see President Lt Gen Ian Khama appearing before parliament to answer questions from legislators and account for the government policies.


The initiative has also rubbed the party’s Youth Wing the wrong way, with the Chairperson Andy Boatile having requested to meet with the current Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture. The GVS issue has become a hot issue since government announcement and has raised more questions on the ruling party’s structures especially the BDP Youth Wing in contributing towards policy formulation.


The government had previously introduced Tirelo Sechaba, and Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) which also proved unpopular with the unemployed youth population.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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