Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Pheto says that he hopes to retable the Botswana National Youth Council Bill before the end of the upcoming meeting of parliament. The bill is currently being reworked by government lawyers at the Attorney General Chambers.
“Depending on how fast the Attorney General Chambers finishes the job, I should be able to take the bill back to parliament quite soon,” the minister says.
The bill was an attempt by Pheto’s ministry to rationalise operations of BNYC, which was established in 1974 through a presidential directive. However, the bill met very fierce opposition from MPs when Pheto presented it in the last meeting.
Kgatleng East MP, Isaac Mabiletsa of the Botswana National Front, expressed dissatisfaction with a clause that provided that the chairperson of the executive committee would be appointed by the minister. Gaborone Central MP, Dumelang Saleshando of the Botswana Congress Party, suggested that the bill would not alter the composition and operation of BNYC in any fundamental way. Such opposition also came from within Pheto’s own party ÔÇô the Botswana Democratic Party.
Debate on the bill ended when Pheto decided to withdraw the bill and send it back to the Attorney General Chambers to be knocked into shape. The minister says that it is in the interest of Botswana youth that the operations of BNYC are rationalised.
On the day that he withdrew the bill, Pheto said in a press interview that he was more than a little concerned about the current state of affairs at BNYC. Two particular concerns that he raised were that of the organisation being used by some youth leaders to launch their political careers as well as abuse of government-provided funds.
Every year the government gives BNYC millions of pula but internal controls within the organisation do not seem tight enough to guard against mismanagement of the money. Pheto hopes to see the day when BNYC’s operations would be statutorily rationalised in the manner that the Botswana National Sports Council, which also gets financial assistance from the government, are.
In addition to strengthening BNYC, the ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports is also reviewing the BNSC Act. The minister says that he would like to see the rationalisation of the relationship between BNSC and the BNOC to forestall the possibility of one duplicating roles of the other.
Currently, the government has representation in the BNYC executive committee through the Department of Culture and Youth. In al, the committee is made up of 14 members. The committee is elected every three years at an annual general assembly. The general assembly is made up of two representatives from all the 51 district youth councils, being chairpersons and secretaries, as well as representatives from other 17 affiliates of the BNYC made up of youth non-governmental organisations, such as Junior Achievement Botswana, Young Women’s Christian Association, Scripture Union, Youth Health Organisations, as well as members from the disabled communities and other young professionals.