Gaborone City Mayoress, Veronica Lesole, this week knocked on many doors soliciting for funds for the City’s Ipelegeng workers as the authority she heads ran out of funds to sustain the manual workforce, two months before the budget allocation.
Ipelegeng, a brainchild of President Khama, employs many impoverished people in society, most of whom are the unemployed youths who eke a living undertaking laborious duties, including the cutting of grass around the capital city but for a paltry allowance.
“We have requested some financial assistance from the government as the money we currently have will not carry us beyond January,” conceded Lesole to the Sunday Standard on Friday. “We even relayed the message to the respective councilors in a special meeting this week to cut down on the number of employees in their wards so as to meet the dwindling funds.”
Many Ipelegeng workers expressed ignorance about the looming lay-offs, saying such an ugly development was news to them as nobody communicated anything to them.
“We have not heard anything since we came back from the festive season,” Sarah Baaitse, a worker in the programme. “To hear of such a development is devastating to us.”
She said she appreciated the little money she gets since it makes a difference in her family.
“The P360 I get used to carry me and my children and with such ugly development, who should we turn to?”
While he acknowledges the difficulties the City Council has, another employee, Peter Setlhare, is more afraid that the recruitment borders on partisanship, with those leaning towards the opposition being given a raw deal as he says happened recently in his Gaborone South constituency.
“During the last batch, most of the employees roped in by the Village Development Committee were selected by virtue of their allegiance to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. I fear the pattern repeating itself.
Although the remaining P570 000 cannot carry salaries beyond January, Lesole is optimistic the government will “do something” before the budget distribution in March, relying on the P83m the government indicated was reserved for the project.