Saturday, May 28, 2022

‘It is not my duty to attend funerals’ ÔÇô Skelemani

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani, shocked his audience at a recent kgotla meeting when he said it is not part of his duty to attend funerals.

Parrying accusations that he did go to funerals at the poorly attended meeting at the Satellite Park in his Francistown East constituency, Skelemani said he was not obliged to attend funerals.

“I don’t attend funerals because most of the time I am out on official international assignments. I addition to being your representative, I am also a cabinet minister who is doing other national duties,” he said.

He added that his responsibilities were not confined to his constituency and its wards as some people thought.

Skelemani complained that although he was not a regular in his constituency, when the opportunity arose, he availed himself but was always disappointed by poor attendance especially from the youth who appear to have more problems than their elders.

“I am always complaining that you do not attend my kgotla meetings. Most of the issues you have raised should be addressed by the council. I can’t usurp council duties because of division of labour principles,” said Skemani.

The minister agreed that feedback was important and he took full responsibility for the lack of feedback on issues raised in previous meetings.

He was happy that ward councilor, Buti Billy, was in constant contact with the electorate. “Billy is doing a good job of going from house to house promoting government policies and programmes. He should be commended for a job well done,” he said.

Skelemani said the problem of land shortage was a national problem which needed a national response adding that the law was being amended to allow 18 year olds to access land.

He said government was addressing the issue of the steep development covenant, responding that the steep development covenant had blocked many youths and poor applicants from accessing residential plots.

Another thorny issue that was raised was that of illegal immigrants as well as cohabitation to which Skelemani replied that in 2004 a task force was instituted to look into the issue and advise government accordingly.

“As a committee on security, every Tuesday we were inundated with reports of murders emanating from issues of cohabitation. After the task force concluded its work, it was agreed that under customary law, after some years of cohabitation, the cohabitors┬áare declared wife and husband,” he said.

He advised residents to stop employing illegal immigrants as cheap labour.

The minister also agreed with his audience that the P500 per goat LIMID assistance was too little because a single goat was now worth more, adding he would take up the matter with government to have the money increased.

He said he would propose that in order to make the scheme workable, government should consider to reducing the number of goats per beneficiary so that the programme is not difficult to access. The minister further proposed one way to solve the problem would be for government to have its own breeding farms from which supplies could be easily sourced.

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