Scores of deserving destitute Batswana have been left out of the P20 million a month programme while undeserving recipients are benefiting following a mix up. The problem is compounded by lack of a clear eligibility criterion.
Apart from failing to cater for deserving destitutes, the programme has been besieged by a number of problems, ranging from late delivery of aid, beneficiaries going for months without government aid to poor service delivery.
The problem has gotten so serious that some legislators have appealed to the Minister of Local Government, Peter Siele, and his assistants to intervene.
The mix up, which has been attributed to complacent social workers, has led to non-registration of deserving destitute while some unscrupulous undeserving elements have penetrated the system and got registered.
The criterion for eligibility is not clearly defined thereby compounding the problem for the programme implementation with the implementers blamed for lack of vigilance by politicians and concerned residents.
One of the Members of Parliament who have raised his concerns about the programme implementation is Samson Moyo Guma.
The legislator last week called assistant Minister of Local Government, Botlogile Tshireletso, to one destitute person in Tati Siding whom social workers have refused to register on the basis that on their assessment, she was fit enough to fend for herself.
Despite her enduring and damning poverty, the destitute person has not been registered as a beneficiary of the programme. The legislator was alerted to the fate of the woman by a concerned neighbour.
“As I did my routine check on my electorates, a concerned elderly woman alerted me to the plight of this destitute who happens to be her neighbour. What is most disturbing is that the social workers who are supposed to be on the ground have rejected to register her for government assistance. This is despite the fact that she has no children and is unable to fend for herself. Her situation is pathetic and needs urgent attention. We cannot allow our own people to wallow in such abject poverty when there are government programmes designed for their assistance,” said a visibly touched Guma.
He added that what irks him most is that this is not the first time that he has on his own located a number of destitute people who are not receiving government aid in his constituency.
“In Themashanga village, I had to mobilize funds and build a number of houses for destitute people whose living condition was unbelievable. It was like these people were not Batswana and part of the society that we are living in. We had to move fast without informing the village leadership, including the civic leadership, because what we had discovered at the time was abominable. As representatives of the people we should be concerned with such pockets of poverty and do all in our power to ensure that such people are enrolled in available government assistance programmes. If there is no political will on our part, I doubt if we will realize the goals of our Vision 2016, especially the ideal of a compassionate and caring nation,” said the Tati East MP.
He is further disturbed by the fact that while government has employed social workers in the councils to look out for such people, they are not delivering on their job.
“What are the social workers doing if they cannot locate these people? It is clear that they are sleeping on their job. Their principals and the minister must crack the whip. This situation should not be allowed to go on unchecked. It is clearly disturbing,” fumed the legislator.
The destitute programme issue also surfaced during a kgotla meeting addressed by Assistant Minister of Local Government Botlogile Tshireletso at Tshesebe village last week. Some residents expressed their concerns at the implementation of the programme.
Coincidentally, the issue was raised in Guma’s constitutency.
They alleged that some orphaned children had gone for months without receiving government assistance including school uniforms.
The minister in response promised that remedial action would be taken to ensure timely delivery of aid to the affected people.