While the government holds that it has taken Batswana out of abject poverty, statistics show that people of the sub-Saharan nation are still languishing in poverty.
The Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Dumezweni Mthimkhulu, was oozing with confidence this week when he responded to questions posed by the MP for Maun West, Dumelang Saleshando, who wanted to establish the number of beneficiaries under the Poverty Eradication Programme.
Junior minister Mthimkhulu said as at March 2020, a total of 3114 beneficiaries had graduated from the programme but the number of those eligible to graduate slowed down due to COVID-19 since April 2020.
Accounting for the total number of beneficiaries sponsored since inception of the programme in 2011, the minister said “41 075 beneficiaries have been sponsored, being individuals and group projects”.
These include small to medium scale machinery, horticulture, fishery, and Kalahari sand building projects across the country. Mthimkhulu said over P666 million was extended to the beneficiaries “out of the P1.3 billion that has been expended on the project”.
Over P713 million was for mobilisation, training of beneficiaries, salaries for support staff across the country, monitoring and successful implementation of the programme. “To-date 21 284 projects are operational throughout the country (while) 2679 have collapsed,” the junior minister noted.
He added that most of the projects that have collapsed are backyard gardening, entertainment, catering, and auxiliary services related to tourism. However, the Maun West legislator, Saleshando, sought to challenge the veracity of Mthimkhulu’s answer, saying the figures stated by the assistant minister contradict those provided at local government.
This compelled Mthimkhulu to make a reluctant concession. “Eradicating poverty is not an event but a process,” he said. “The BDP government intends to continue uplifting citizens from poverty.”