Maun Administrative Authority (MAA) is said to have failed in its efforts to recover large amounts of money owed to the authority by people who benefited from the Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA).
At the commencement of a sub council meeting this week, its chairman, Galaletsang Mhapha, made an appeal that councilors should, through their kgotla meetings, help put sense in their people and show them the need to have their arrears paid so as to enable others who have long applied to also benefit from the scheme.
By the end of June this year, Mhapha said council had accrued arrears totaling P 2, 000 571, adding that there is no way council can move on considering the current situation if defaulters are not made to pay. He said the implication is that council has also made losses, resulting in their revolving fund being immensely affected as their budget has also not been very sound over the years.
However, councilors were of the view that the mix-up was made by council itself which should therefore take the blame as they had not made any proper assessments to determine who could benefit and who could not. They said the random selection criteria was very wrong right from the beginning as people were just picked and their requests approved, automatically turning them into beneficiaries, regardless of whether they were on short or long term contracts.
They said as it stands now, numbers show that most of the defaulters have long been without jobs.
The other observation was that even some of the working class who benefited from the scheme still cannot pay or have not signed for stop orders. Although only a handful of councilors were willing to help make follow ups, a majority opted to leave the issue idle and instead pointed an accusing finger at council management for having failed the system.
“The policy is on its own very weak and needs to be revised. I beg to disagree that it is the people who do not want to pay because most of them are not even working as we speak and therefore have no other alternative source of income. I also want to believe that there might have been some anomalies beyond our control at the time when the whole thing was instigated. How then are we expected to follow up people who cannot do a thing to rescue themselves from debt? Please, I think it goes back to us as a sub district to see how best we can help these people because otherwise we will never be able to move forward. We must also not make mention of the revolving fund at this time as it has nothing to do with this mess we are in. I have personally always told you councilors that our thinking here is not strategic and the way we run things does not portray us as people with a vision”, said an irate Kubung councilor, Pelokgale Monyame.
Debating on the same issue was Botshabelo councilor, Bontsibokae Ramasu, who blamed the sub council chairman and council staff alike, saying they have always been very lenient such that they have not been able to address issues in a more diplomatic way, hence the many loopholes which they always only spot when time has already passed.
She said Mhapha particularly, has for a long time failed to familiarize himself with the district and so does not have a clue about a lot that is happening around it, resulting in a failure to have things addressed in time. Her suggestion was that instead of councilors following defaulters, the sub council should, through its Social and Community Development Unit, take on the assignment and make further assessments on the people’s standard of living, so that they may know of any way forward.
“They are better placed to do so and I hope they will carry out the assignment in the most appropriate way than is expected of us,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mhapha also told council that the Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) had taken over in the construction of turnkey houses while council will now only do the home improvement part through SHHA. He said BHC should be commended for stepping in and offering a helping hand at a time when it is needed most, even though the only setback now will be monetary constraints.