Francistown — Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare has assured artists that the relief fund evaluation process shall be expanded to ensure that it benefits some of them in no time.
Rakgare said this during a meet and greet session in Francistown on Friday.
He said the evaluation process had been slow adding that the ministry was currently working round the clock to finalise the evaluation of the applicants eligible for the relief with the hope of disbursing funds soon.
The minister said he was aware that the delay was worrying noting that they were not happy with some people who were double dipping hence the delay in evaluation process.
"There are some people who benefited from the funds dispersed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and are re-applying for the MYSC relief fund and this is not acceptable as it delays the ministry to fund those who are eligible to benefit from the relief fund," he said.
Rakgare further said he was aware that the pandemic had affected the functioning and growth of the creative sector, as many activities within the sector had not yet started operating since the introduction of the state of emergency.
Furthermore, the minister said the ministry was currently working on the establishment of the National Arts Council.
Minister Rakgare further said they were about to finalise the long awaited creative industry strategy adding that they were working alongside the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry.
Meanwhile, several artists called on the ministry to digitalise some operations, enhance their fight on piracy, recognition of creative industry as a formal employment, decentralisation of MYSC to Francistown and create a visual arts gallery.
Fashion designers' representative, Lucia Matumba said there was need to involve people with relevant knowledge and experience in the creative industry when setting out policies as some policies made were not practical.
She further expressed concern about certain retailers selling facial masks instead of allowing local tailors to capitalise on the opportunity and enhance their lives.
Itekeng ward councillor, Lesego Kwambala proposed that the ministry should have a clear plan for the creative sector in the Economic Recovery plan.
He further proposed for Francistown to be a hub for the creative industry adding that ministers should also be accessible in order for the artists to associate well with them.
On challenges faced by artists, Rakgare challenged artists to work towards strengthening of the sector by having functional and accountable associations, which allow for better coordination and implementation of programmes and projects in their sector.
He further said the ministry was currently prioritising digitalising its operations.
Regarding the issue of policy, the minister said it was upon the creative industry to self-regulate, which required a board in order to allow rightful policies to be made, adding that even with grants, it was upon artists to decide on giving the ministry the authority of only giving local artists platforms in Botswana.
Rakgare also pleaded with artists not to have politicians infiltrate their sector to push their political agendas.
For his part, assistant minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Buti Billy encouraged artists to familiarise themselves with policies and the National Development Plan (NDP11).
He said it was vital for artists to have functional associations as it would make it easier for the ministry to work well with them and achieve certain goals.
Billy further urged artists to embrace the new normal as things would never go back to how they were, addin that some laws were to be changed to suit the current effects of the pandemic.
Francistown South legislator, Wynter Mmolotsi appreciated ministry's efforts in pushing for the formation of the National Arts Council.
He pleaded with the ministry to have funds for different sectors in the creative industry since artists were from different sectors such as music, poetry, among others.
He also thanked artists for participating in the session and sharing their challenges and ideas on how best they could work well with the ministry.
Source : BOPA