The chairman of the Central District Council, Lesego Raditanka, has lamented the high number of destitute persons who depend on government for sustenance.
Raditanka said at the CDC’s full council meeting last week that there is a need to vigorously address the challenge and empower those who are dependent on government.
The CDC currently has 14 196 destitute persons, 13 604 needy students, 17 157 orphans, 880 community home based care patients and 360 vulnerable children.
“This is not sustainable at all. We must all stand up to address these social challenges. I also implore those who are benefiting from this program to take advantage of rehabilitation programs or take temporary employment seriously, as this may change their lives forever,” said Raditanka.
Government recently took a decision to reduce spending on destitute persons and empower them so that they can sustain themselves.
In this regard, some of the destitute persons were moved to the Ipelegeng program while some were taught survival skills like beadwork and sewing so that they can earn their own keep.
“The increasing number of beneficiaries is economically unsustainable and has led government to embark on a review of the National Policy on Destitute Persons in August 2008. Currently, an assessment is being carried out to ensure that only eligible persons benefit from the Destitution Program.
The aim of the review is to put more emphasis on rehabilitation as a people-centered development program. To this end, government is working hard to rehabilitate destitute persons so that they exit from the Destitute Program,” said Finance minister, Kenneth Matambo, when presenting the budget speech recently.
Out of the 7 540 destitute beneficiaries targeted for rehabilitation, 956 have already been enrolled in income generating projects that range from bead work to laundry, shoe repair and basketry.
But it has emerged that destitute persons who have been moved from the destitute food basket to the Ipelegeng program have not welcomed the development, especially because of the difference in benefits that accrue from the two.
Destitute persons get a food basket worth around P800 per month while the Ipelegeng program pays around P400 a month. As a result, destitute persons who have been moved to Ipelegeng have not taken kindly to the transfer.
“I am saddened, Honorable Members, to hear that some of those beneficiaries employed under Ipelegeng Program are not committed to their work. This is totally unacceptable,” said Raditanka.
Since its inception in July 2008, Ipelegeng has created around 38,000 jobs per month. Ipelegeng has also employed over 230, 000 people since April 2009, made up of 172 686 females and 61 776.
The CDC, which is the largest in Botswana, was allocated over P92 million in the 2009/2010 budget, with 837 projects to implement. P62.8 million was specifically for projects and the remainder for running costs.
Due to financial constraints, allocation for the 2010/2011 financial year has been cut by almost 28%.
“To cut costs, able bodied destitutes will be absorbed into Ipelegeng,” said Raditanka.