Former Chairperson of the parliament’s education committee, Bagalatia Arone
Former Chairperson of the parliament’s education committee, Bagalatia Arone, has observed that the National Internship programme which benefits only degree holders is discriminatory and hinders career prospects for diploma students.
Arone says the practice is unfair and discriminates Diploma graduates unnecessarily. He contends that there is no reason to give other graduates mileage and deny other graduates the same privilege, revealing that at the end of the day, those diploma graduates are job seekers just like degree graduates.
“If you look at the kind of duties that graduates perform on daily basis during their internship, there is absolutely no reason why diploma or even certificate graduates cannot be allowed to do it,” Arone told Weekend Post in an exclusive interview this week.
The Okavango legislator is of the view that, the move was motivated by the fact that even at present when the initiative is only open for degree holders – the graduates cannot be absorbed into the programme.
“We were in the process of discussing this matter in the just ended session but we were unable to do so due to time constraints resulting mainly from the court case (standing orders case),” says Arone.
The Okavango legislator argues views the National Internship program as National Service which should be open to all graduates from government sponsored institutions.
Arone says there is a need for a consistent government policy instead of making reactionary decisions like the current government is doing. Arone observes that the National internship Programme is an unprincipled move which was aimed at appeasing degree holders while another vast majority of graduates are not allowed to participate.
The programme, one of President Ian Khama’s initiatives to curb unemployment and give graduates a practical experience in the work environment was introduced four years ago. With graduates failing to be absorbed in the work industry, one of the factors identified as hindrance was lack of experience and the programme was introduced with the hope of proving solution to that predicament.
However, the initiative has proved to be counterproductive as scores of graduates with diploma are not eligible for participation. While the government has announced in 2012 that it has introduced progression sponsorship to allow students who were sponsored for Diploma courses, to enrol for a top-up Degree, it has since transpired that the initiative has also been marred by controversy.
With a high number of students seeking progression, the Department of Tertiary Education Financing (DTEF) introduced another requirement, saying only students who fall within the category of scare skills will be given priority.
Initially, progression also catered for students who previously sponsored themselves for certificates courses in various recognized institutions in Botswana. This has led DTEF not being able to sponsor all the students, hence the introduction new criterion to qualify for sponsorship. The development however, has proved to be a conundrum for students without degree qualification since they are unable to qualify for both National Internship Programme and for progression for further studies.
Khama revealed last month in his State of Nation Address (SONA) that despite criticism levelled against the initiative government is continuing with the National Internship Programme as a platform for skills transfer and development. As of April 2014, there were 4,228 Interns enrolled in the programme.
Opponents of the initiative contend that it has been used by some private companies as a source of cheap labour. Government has also been criticized that since introducing the programme he has put on hold thousands of employment post in favour interns.
Meanwhile BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi says the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Culture will continue with the National Internship programme which caters only for Bachelor Degree students, because they are many various government initiatives targeting the youth which Diploma graduates can benefit from.
Balopi says the exclusion of Diploma graduates from National Internship Programme does not mean they cannot participate in other youth empowerment programmes availed by government. Balopi says there are various empowerment programmes which they can benefit from without necessarily having to focus only on the National Internship Programme.
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.