Sunday, September 27, 2020

Is BNYC dying a natural death?

Last year, the youth across the country applied for the District Youth Committees (DYC) positions in about 33 districts; only those youth who surpassed the requirements were shortlisted in our local newspapers.

The youth began to campaign to their communities and the election was held on the 28th January 2012. Others emerged winners while others lost the bid.

However, there was a group of youth who had also surpassed the requirements but were left out by the election committee, which was then tasked with the entire project led by Mr. Tapologo Kwapa and his team.

?A group of the applicants, including the previous Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) Chairmanship candidate, Mr. Refilwe Masutha; well known youth activist in media circles, Ms. Gorata Phakedi; former Baisago College SRC President and former UBSRC Treasurer, teamed up with other youth who had the same complaints.

The highlight of the nature of objections included misplacing candidate in the wrong districts, omission of the applicants who surpassed the requirements, placing candidates to the wrong positions, candidates not appearing on the ballot paper during the elections and cancelling of ballot paper.

Two months later the BNYC sent the elects a message to invite them to a meeting termed “Induction” and there they were given BNYC documentations including BNYC Statutes (Constitution), BNYC Code of conduct and Financial Regulation. At this meeting not all district committee members were invited. Some committees had all their members present while some had only a limited number of members invited. This raised concern on the criteria used to invite the different district committee members.

?The meeting (Induction) was intended to mandate the committees to start working in their respective districts and the most interesting issue here is that since other members of the DYC were not invited, it went to the extent of them not knowing each other as they campaigned separately and they did not know who won and who lost for which position except individuals knowing their own results. (Trace for other DYC members is still ongoing in other districts like Palapye, Jwaneng, Lethakane and Gabs 1 & 2)

This month DYC’s from different districts met to discuss core issues affecting their districts and they also decided to write a letter to BNYC directed to the chairman, Mr. Metlha Mokwena. The letter was of immediate attention to the chairman to answer few concerns raised at the meeting, and to be exact the following was asked:?

It was within the rights of the DYC’s to be informed of the decision of suspending the Executive Director of the organization. However this issue of suspension goes down to the nation at large, as it stands the Director, Mr. Benjamin Raletsatsi, is on full salary and also enjoys all the benefits while serving his suspension at home, something that I strongly feel is corruption. We need to understand his suspension as tax payers’ money is being wasted by BNYC.

Personal conflict is rumoured to prevail and the BNYC Board fears to fire the boss as it will cost the organization’s money to cover his remaining contract. I appeal to the nation at large to also put pressure on the BNYC management to account for the suspension of Benjamin Raletsatsi. The organization is funded by the government through the ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.

I feel pity for the DYC’s who have been dismissed as this hinders the progress of seeing the lives of the youth being transformed by this organization. The organisation was established through a Presidential Directive (CAB 9/74) in 1974 to coordinate all youth focused Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) yet the youth is being dismissed for questioning what is right for them and the nation. I wish the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Mr. Shaw Kgathi, or other senior authorities could look into this issue and look into it as a matter of urgency.

The powers of the General Assembly are limitless. Such a forum is intended to review youth policies and programs, make resolution on any youth matter or affairs as well as advising the government on the kind of policy or program youths would like have based on the resolution of the Assembly. The platform also sets the goals of BNYC as well as checks if the goals established earlier were indeed met or if there is need for a review. This is a policy making body that can take actions on what it deems important for the youth.

In summary, BNYC this year ruled out the General Assembly yet had been budgeted for. The question is “Where is the money for the General Assembly channeled to?” The organization entered yet another year without a mandate from the General Assembly.

Mr. Metlha Mokwena, the chairman for this dying organization publicly said, “Members of the DYCs are still new and are yet to be taught the processes involved in the running of the BNYC. He said the DYCs will participate in the drafting of the budget next year.”

Rather, this year, they decided they want to hold a consultative meeting, which has no power in as far as decision-making is concerned. It will just be a talk-shop and no binding resolutions will be made, unlike in the General Assembly which is constitutionally provided for.

After the suspension of the executive Director, Mr. Benjamin Raletsatsi, it was publicly announced that BNYC projects (Youth Projects) will also be suspended. It was also within the rights of the youth leaders to know which projects were suspended and under which circumstances. Well it is understood that the Gabane councillor, Mr. Ofentse Mareme, pushed the motion to question BNYC project ‘Sechaba Youth Agricultural Enterprise’, which was one of those projects suspended yet again it was rumoured to have been funded to the tune of P400, 000 for its administration; indeed corruption at its worst. Help our BNYC from this natural death as DYCs have also been dismissed from their committees for asking all these.

If the Executive committee resolves that any member has acted in a manner detrimental to the objects and/or interests of the Organisation, her/his membership may be terminated, provided that the member shall first be given written notice of grounds of the complaint and an opportunity to make representations to the Executive Committee.??(Youth Leaders were not provided with the opportunity in this case hence they were not first given written notices of grounds of the complaint even to have representative to hear out their complaint.

Is BNYC dying a natural death? Indeed the obvious answer would be yes the organization is dying a natural death and it is time for the minister to step in to help the youth as they are in a battlefield.
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*Tony Yousef is a youth activist

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.