Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Peter Siele, on Friday dismissed allegations that the latest move by President Ian Khama to dish out radio sets to elderly people was yet another ploy to swing voters in his favour ahead of the general elections.
Siele this week announced that government will hand out omega radio sets to elderly people aged 65, who live alone, as part of efforts to better the quality of their lives and keep them informed. The move was immediately dismissed by President Khama’s political enemies as yet another populist manoeuvre that was meant to entice the elderly into voting for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) during the 2014 general elections. However, Siele moved fast to dismiss the allegations as cheap politics and challenge those who accuse President Khama of buying votes with the radio sets to provide proof.
“Those radio sets have nothing to do with votes and they are not a populist move by President Khama. They are not meant to entice the elderly to vote for the BDP. They are a well meant initiative that was informed by government’s primary responsibility of promoting, providing and ensuring access to basic social services, bearing in mind specific needs of older persons, as per Article 13 of the Political Declaration made by UN member states who attended the second UN Assembly on Ageing of 2002 in Madrid, Spain,” he said. He further disclosed that government procured 9918 radios at a total of P1 754 494 for elderly people who live alone without carers.
He hailed the move as yet another indication that government is committed to serving and caring for its citizenry, especially vulnerable members of the community such as elderly people. According to Siele, government took a decision to procure radios for elderly persons who live alone without carers because it was realised that they have limited access to information, which makes them unaware of what is happening around them.
He further explained that the move is in line with one of the recommendations for action of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing of 2002, which aimed at providing information and access to facilitate participation of older persons in mutual self-help, intergenerational community groups and opportunities for them to realise their full potential. “There is no doubt that these radios are going to facilitate access to information by elderly persons who live on their own without carers and empower them, because information is power,” said Siele.