Saturday, June 22, 2024

Attack against poverty needs to be more targeted and more informed

Critics of the poverty eradication scheme started by President Ian Khama which he has since marketed as his signature programme, probably the highest among a suite of policies against which he wants to be judged when his legacy is considered have been quick to say the scheme is not sustainable.

Critics are right, but only up to a point.

In a big way critics disregard one portent argument by Khama and his supporters which is that unsustainable as it might be in the long term, the programme is a stop gap, intended to address what is by all accounts an emergency that cannot wait while well thought out response measures are being stitched together.

Poverty is one of the most dehumanising aspects of human life.

And is the degrading kind of poverty that has been President Khama’s target.

By its nature, poverty eats at people’s esteem and dignity and takes away their ability to even fend for themselves.
In short poverty makes people vulnerable and renders them prey to all sorts of influences.

Poverty and its effects on people become most endemic when compounded by inequality and income disparities.
And as evidence shows, Botswana is among the most imbalanced countries in the world, where a tiny fraction of the population continues to control disproportionately high amounts of the country’s wealth and resources.

A glance at many of the countries today plagued by terrorism reveals that they have one thing in common; at a political level they have weak to non-existent structures while at an economic level they are failed states.

It is thus not a coincidence that people who are well off often have no inclination to engage in such things like terrorism or civil wars.
Their pre-occupation is to continue improving their economic lot.

People who are poor on the other hand often give in to despondency and hopelessness, thus rendering themselves easy prey for perverted idealism and ideologies like terrorism.

Additionally, poor people are often unable to take advantage of the programmes created by government to help people in their similar situations.

This on its own further exacerbates their plight.

Credit must be given to President Khama for increasing social spending aimed at helping the poor.
But in as far as such spending does not in the larger scheme of thing benefit the intended recipients, then the whole exercise is as wrong as it is irresponsible.
Social spending must be geared at improving and enhancing equality.

There must be created a feeling among all citizens that they are sharing the cake.

The feeling of sharing becomes greater if the middle class is itself the biggest beneficiary.
Unfortunately under Khama it appears like there is a deliberate, in fact systematic drive to isolate and even humiliate the middle class.

Social spending should be targeted if it is to have lasting results.
More so at a time when the national treasury is undergoing some of the biggest strains ever experienced since independence.

Not for the first time we call on President Khama to look at what it is that his government can do to bolster the middle class in this country.

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