Monday, June 1, 2020

It’s time to dump cosmetic social programmes – Butale

The Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Biggie Butale has punched holes on the Ipelegeng, Youth Development Fund and the Department of Gender Affairs Fund social programmes.

Describing them as “totally unacceptable and wasteful”  the legislator called for the scrapping of the social programmes arguing their relevance in propping up the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) “win the elections” have outlived their usefulness.

Mincing no words, the legislator on Thursday told parliament the projects are regressive and “not good for the future” of the country.

“Ipelegeng, the Department of Gender Affairs Fund and Development Fund to me must be scrapped as they only help us win elections. The whopping sums of monies set aside to buy tents for these initiatives only for them to collapse in no time create a dent in the economy,” he argued.

 “[Minister] Olopeng you may think this is a brilliant idea but in the long term that is going to catch up with us. This does not give value,” the Assistant Minister seethed.

Before he was transferred to the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology in the last cabinet reshuffle, Thapelo Olopeng was the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development.

“Ipelegeng for starters should not be tailored for young people who cut grass and bushes”, he advised.

“We are even dimming the sparkling diamond bonanza the country has experienced for all these years. This is totally unacceptable even if it is the good way of winning the elections,” the Tati West MP noted, maintaining the projects are “not good for the future.”

The brainchild of former President Ian Khama, Ipelegeng, Youth Development Fund and the Department of Gender Affairs Fund were praised during his tenure with disapproval spoken only in hush tones within the ruling party circles.

Only those with strong conviction have challenged the projects in Parliament such as Butale as the Assistant Minister of Trade and today and the out-going Assistant Minister of Health.

Contributing to the previous budget speech in Parliament as the Assistant Minister of Trade then Butale came out with guns blazing lambasting the “wasteful Ipelegeng” social project only to add the Youth Development Fund and Department of Gender Affairs Fund this time around.

Beneficiaries of YDF and DGAF are offered tents, chairs, catering utensils and musical instruments, amongst others, to start businesses.

Ipelegeng workers themselves cut trees along major roads, they sweep public spaces and build community projects, amongst others, earning a paltry P500 per month saturated predominantly by the frustrated unemployed youths some of whom are degreed.

Worse still the manual work alternates between individuals meaning at times one may not be employed to put food on the table.

Butale will not be a contestant in the looming general elections anticipated in October having lost the BDP primary elections.

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