Gaborone — The halting of Ipelegeng Programme has affected the lives of many beneficiaries who were solely dependent on it, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr Themba Mmusi has admitted.
Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday, Dr Mmusi however assured PAC that unenrolled beneficiaries would be registered in other programmes.
He explained that the programme was currently under review to gauge its sustainability and economic viability.
The programme was temporarily halted in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure adherence to health protocols and create a safe working environment for its employees.
On the review, he said the intention was to restructure the programme while creating ecological job opportunities that would sustain livelihoods of many.
He acknowledged that the programme continued to address the plight of the poor through temporary employment.
The new version would create permanent and sustainable employment opportunities sustaining Batswana through periods of unfavourable economic hardships, he said.
He further admitted that most settlement dwellers were poverty stricken and had limited means of survival apart from the programme.
Dr Mmusi said government had therefore come up with an affirmative action framework, to ensure remote area communities were included in all programmes, to address existing imbalances created by geographical conditions in most parts of the country.
"Remote area communities have not benefited from the general prosperity of the country because of the geographic conditions within which they live and these have prevented or impaired the right to development within settlements," he said.
Affirmative action, he said, had created a conducive environment for them to empower themselves and participate in the country's economic and social activities.
Dr Mmusi said government had also established the Rural Development Council (RDC) to further empower the communities, as it provided an effective oversight role in the general implementation of rural development policies.
RDC continued to drive rural enterprise development through funding support and coordination of community projects, citing the Zutshwa salt project, he said.
The objective, he explained, was to catalyse development, local economic activity and to create jobs in rural areas.
Dr Mmusi was responding to PAC members' concerns in relation to allegations that government had cancelled the Ipelegeng Programme, which they said would drive rural dwellers to the deep end of poverty, since the majority were solely dependent on it as their source of income.
Source : BOPA