The Gaborone City Council has announced that it has introduced a bakery project as its first initiative to make orphans and destitute to be self reliant.
From the onset, we want to commend the City Council.
Among other things, the project will inevitably restore self esteem, dignity and a sense of self worth to beneficiaries.
According to a GCC official interviewed by one of the local papers this week, the project hopes to rehabilitate orphans and able-bodied destitute persons by teaching them, among other things, business management skills. So far, the council has revealed it has identified 10 young people who shall be taught basic bakery training.
It is understood that from there, the 10 young people will be given seed capital and also be trained in bookkeeping and basic business management.
The bakery project, estimated to cost P 860, 000 is a departure from the routine culture of handouts common with most governments’ welfare programmes.
The purpose of the project, we understand, is to discourage orphans and destitute from relying too much on government welfare programmes.
Central to this noble initiative is a clear objective by the Gaborone municipality to empower destitute and orphans economically.
It is on this note that we applaud GCC on its latest initiative and implore them to find other ideas by which orphans and destitute could be empowered.
Unemployment is a curse for many of our young people.
Not only does it engender the cycle of poverty, it also encourages many young people, most of whom are gifted to derail into unproductive and, in some instances, criminal livelihoods.
This undertaking by Gaborone City Council deserves support from all stakeholders because it is coupled with a spirit of reducing over dependency on government. Over the years, government has been criticised for promoting a dependency syndrome in which it was a sole provider of everything to its citizenry. Thus, over the years, it has become very difficult, if not impossible, for our people to differentiate their Government from the illusory Father Christmas.
The examples of Government doing everything for people, who themselves would not go an extra mile to meet it, include but are not limited to free education,, free health care, soft loans and a plethora of other initiatives, especially in the agricultural sector.
It is not an exaggeration to say that some of our people are so spoilt that even the able bodied have no shame receiving food rations from government.
Our position with being so spoon-fed is that, ultimately, the recipients tend to lose self esteem.
Their lives become purposeless and do not look forward to breaking out from such a trap.
While we do not oppose government’s idea of giving food rations to the poor and orphans more especially children, we hasten to point out that distributing food to the poor has over the years not been coupled with a long term solution to help such families break out of the ruins of poverty.
In fact, besides cultivating a culture of complacency and dependency among some of the beneficiaries, the provision of food for destitute and orphans has given birth to a wholesale of ills.
For instance, corrupt political officials have used this welfare system as their easiest way to attaining riches. Not only that.
Because of flawed procurement systems, Botswana’s welfare system has given birth to a corrupt bureaucratic outfit that is headquartered at the Ministry of Local Government.
This is perhaps, one of the reasons why today so much over dependence on the state has turned the welfare system into a mockery.
In this regard, we welcome GCC’s initiative as a turning point. Botswana has to put the interest of the poor top on the agenda.
Empowering citizens so that they can play a role in their lives as well as participate in the mainstream economy is not only a welcome development but the right way to go.