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‘Populist’ P570 million Constituency Fund in the spotlight yet again

Former Member of Parliament for Ramotswa, Odirile Motlhale, has defended the controversial Constituency Development Fund, following criticism of the initiative by former Assistant Minister of Local Government, Kentse Rammidi.

Motlhale who championed the initiative during the 10th Parliament contented that the Constituency Development Fund is still “very much relevant.” He said the programme reduces bureaucratic hassles which weaken the efficiency and effectiveness of government programmes by sending funds directly to constituency level hence enabling communities to identify their own local development priorities.

The program was established to stimulate local economic developments, creating employment and promoting productive and employment generating activities to mention a few. Rammidi has however questioned the effectiveness of allocating P570 million to different individual constituencies instead of channelling the fund to councils for better planning.

Rammidi, who previously chaired Southern District Council (SDC), contended that the Constituency Development Fund, which allocates P10 million to constituencies annually, undermines organised local government and distorts local planning.

“We are talking a whopping P570 million per annum that is deprived councils every year here. Are we getting value for money from this funding? I am still to hear of an outstanding project derived from the fund,” said Rammidi on his Facebook page this week.

“When my friend Odirile Motlhale brought a motion to Parliament to introduce the funding I vehemently opposed it.”  Rammidi said that if he puts this into perspective, if the money directed to Councils for development projects to be decided by them, Southern district with P70 million constituencies could be getting P70 million per annum.

He also said that if priority was to be roads, “surely with P70 million, these roads could be bituminised.”  He suggested that as an alternative, Members of Parliament should start thinking “motshelo” with the P10 million to achieve high value projects. Mothale, when asked if the fund has been implemented the way he had envisioned he said:

“I cannot claim to have knowledge of how the fund is currently being implemented neither have I seen the guidelines governing the running of the fund”
“However from what I have picked up it appears that some of what I view as key tenants of the fund are missing; the Member of Parliament should chair the fund (ii) a committee comprising different interest groups found in the constituency should drive the fund.”

Motlhale added that he believes CDF should continue, and that one of the things to be avoided is dividing the P10 million equally between different wards in the constituency highlighting that no impactful project could be implemented by doing so.

Last week it emerged that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has withheld P570 million Constituency Development Funds, as Councils countrywide struggle to complete projects.  Since the beginning of the 2017/18 financial year, the government has disbursed a total amount of P1, 7 billion to various districts for Constituency Developments.

“For this financial year, Government has not disbursed funds to the various councils because councils still have the balances to complete on-going projects and those that have not yet started,” said Masego Ramakgathi, the Ministry of Local Government spokesperson. Ramakgathi explained that the implementation programme has been affected by Covid-19 especially when it comes to the implementation and monitoring aspects.

Since its inception, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) from the allocated funds, expenditure stands at P1, 2 billion with the remaining balance still to fund some ongoing projects and those that have not started.

“The government is satisfied with the benefits of the program as it continues to achieve its objectives to stimulate economic growth at locality level by creating employment as well as increasing/improving infrastructure,” said Ramakgathi.

Meanwhile Southern District Council Chairperson, Thamiso Chabalala, confirmed to this publication that amongst other things that hindered government to fund constituencies during this financial year is the Covid-19 pandemic.

He stated that projects were not funded pending completion of previous projects and therefore constituencies where told to complete them by November 2021.  Chabalala indicated that ceasing of CDF has affected them as they had planned to start projects in order to develop his constituency.

“I am very excited to announce that there are a few projects underway that I am confident to say that they are close to completion even though there are some challenges here and there.”
Kweneng Council Chairperson, Motlhopi Leo, commented that he is hoping that once they complete pending projects, the government may consider funding them for other projects they had in mind in order to develop their constituencies.

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Woman swindled out of P62 000 by fake CID officers

17th June 2021
Motube

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.

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BCP walks out of UDC meeting

15th June 2021
Boko and Saleshando

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.

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Katlholo wins against DPP

15th June 2021
DCEC DIRECTOR: Tymon Katlholo

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.

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