Some Govt Policies Fuel Poverty – Cllrs

Date:

Some councillors attending BALA’s Gender Commission Capacity Building Workshop for Gender Commissioners and Focal Persons in Maun this week have blamed some government programmes for driving communities deep into poverty.

The councilors came out to defend themselves after they were challenged to come up with interventions that could save their communities from the wrath of poverty instead of riding on the tide for political gain.

Women Against Rape (WAR) Coordinator, Peggy Ramaphane had noted that there were some councillors who were only interested in the number of poverty alleviation beneficiaries in their respective wards and further as to whether they are being assisted.

Ramaphane urged councillors to instead strive to upgrade the less privileged from such programmes.

“You should know as councilors that you are agents of change therefore you should come up with interventions that will stop these people from depending on social safety nets for the improvement of their quality of life,” Ramaphane urged stressing that there is no parent who takes pride in taking care of their children through handouts.

However, Tlokweng Councilor, Seilatsatsi Kgokong has in response argued that as councilors they can make recommendations and table motions, but that does not mean they have the final say. She highlighted that she has done that several times regarding change of policies but all her efforts were fruitless.

“We have long said there are some destitution programmes that need to be reviewed but after being told that process is on the pipeline we are still waiting for that to happen so that people can be assisted,” she stressed.

She has called on the system  to be decentralised bearing in mind that each district has its own geographical challenges.

“Some poverty eradication programmes like catering cannot succeed in areas such as Nxauxau, that is why implementation is always going to fail,” she highlighted.

Maun Boseja South Councilor, Itumeleng Kelebetseng also shared the same sentiments noting that government policies hinder them as local authorities to change the lives of their communities for the better. He highlighted that some poverty alleviation programmes cannot be effective in ungazetted settlements, which defeats the whole purpose.

Kelebetseng who is also North West District Council Chairman also concurred that the policies are a one size fits all hence they are not effective in some other areas. “We have been challenging these policies through motions but our efforts proved futile,” he said.

Meanwhile WAR Coordinator expressed concern, “handouts dent the dignity of both the parents and their children. Our children even suffer the most witnessing that their parents are struggling to look after them.”

This as she mentioned that there is still a number of families especially in Ngamiland who do not have shelter, access to clean drinking water and also go to bed on empty stomachs. “We should ensure that parents are able to look after their children” she said, challenging councillors role in changing that situation.

Ramaphane is convinced that relieving people from poverty can also reduce issues of gender based violence (GBV) which are rampant in the country. This as she emphasised that poverty is one of the factors leading to incidents of GBV.

She stressed further that it is councilors’ role as gender commissioners to ensure that people’s rights are protected as well as ensuring that the country attains the vision 2036 goals. She challenged the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) to evaluate factors leading to poverty with the aim of addressing the problem.

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