The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is set to abolish the young farmers fund and replace it with a refurbished youth entrepreneurship fund.
Eight years on, the government has moved to pass a motion in parliament that called for the young farmers fund to be replaced, “to carter for other young people with other business ideas other than agriculture”. The motion was passed on Friday by Member of Parliament (MP) for Kgalagadi North, Itumeleng Moipisi.
However Members of Opposition in Parliament are against the move as they believe it would defeat the purpose of the fund which the BDP created ahead of the 2009 general elections as a tool to empower the country’s youth, which were at the time disadvantaged by existing funds requirements.
The BDP however, has used its numbers advantage to pass the motion. Several BDP MPs including cabinet Ministers are of the view that the new fund, which is yet to be introduced, would broaden the scope of the existing fund. In fact the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane believes that the idea is progressive.
“I think he has the plight of youth at heart. When the young farmers fund was formed, we were encouraging the youth into farming as you know our youth shun farming. Those who developed interest ventured into the farming industry and some joined in as a last resort and have failed because they did not like it,” Tsogwane debated.
Opposition Members nonetheless maintained that the Young Farmers fund was good initiative and has encouraged young people to venture into farming and food production. The opposition expressed fear that the ruling party was only trying to play a political mind game by reintroducing existing programmes under a new package.
The government has several youth support funds for different business ventures under the Ministries of Youth, Sports and Culture. The grants include Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES), Youth Development Fund, art and culture grants, Kickstart Programme, and the E-nnovation youth empowerment programme which aims to encourage the out of school, marginalised and unemployed youth to venture into sustainable and viable income generating projects.
Of all the youth programmes, young farmers has the highest finance support as a project could be funded with up to P500 000 while CEDA loans go beyond P2 Million.
Opposition MP, Haskins NKaigwa of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) maintained that the reason young people are failing to access other existing funds such as main line CEDA loans is due to accessibility challenges.
“You need a tool to get the funds. You need a business plan and a business plan has to be done by a consultant who in turn needs to be paid. CEDA would not just issue money because somebody needs it. It has to be convinced that the planned business is viable,” Nkaigwa maintained.
Another opposition MP, Ndaba Gaolatlhe of the UDC argued that funding is just one aspect of the eco system which the country needs to develop in order to achieve needed results in as far as youth and citizen empowerment is concerned.
According to Gaolathe the government should consider establishing appropriate well targeted and diversified support mechanisms through smart subsidies, incentives for the growth of agro-industry sector, research and development, training and capacities. Other areas of worth, Ndaba explained would be opening of market access opportunities, local and international access to potential partnerships.
Poverty, poor health, hunger and lack of education continue to limit the potential of the youth in increasing productivity and agricultural incomes in the country and the rest of the Southern Africa region.
According to the Economic Commission of Africa, forty percent of the total unemployed in the region are youth and majority of them live in rural areas. For those that are employed, low productivity, underemployment and meagre earnings characterise their agricultural profile.
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.