To live up to the promise of prioritising youth development as espoused by President Ian Khama in his State of the Nation address, the government needs to ensure earnest service delivery.
In his maiden speech yesterday, the Member of Parliament for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane decried the quality of service by some employees of the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture. He said at times, the officials frustrate youth who seek to enrol in the various youth empowerment schemes.
Speaking at length on the issue, Moswaane said these officers are likely to be seen as people who exist to oppose instead of promoting the good initiatives aimed at reducing youth unemployment and poverty.
“The service is very wanting and some officers behave like they are against these programmes,” he said. Adding that, “the minister has to ensure that these promises are sufficiently delivered, failure which the good initiatives will go to waste”.
He called on government to review financing of youth projects as currently the funding is too small to cover basic business operations. He suggested there be an allowance to accommodate youth applicants who perhaps had underestimated their start up budget, as applications for budgetary increment are currently problematic.
“At times it takes long for the department to process applications to top up funding. I think when one had applied for P100,000 for instance and later realised there is a shortage; the financing should be tailored such that there is room for those who under-forecast their budget,” Moswaane said.
Moreover, he said reconfiguring youth empowerment programmes should take into consideration start-ups in new fields where graduates would need more funding exceeding the current financing provision. He said such enterprises would put to use graduates’ skills in areas where it is difficult to find employment at the moment.
Moswaane proposed that the appeals process for failed applications should be shortened, noting that it can span up to six months or more. Another amendment he proposed is that this funding has to cater for skills training.
“At least this funding has to reserve about P10,000 in case further skills or retooling is needed before business operations resume,” he opined.
Thousands of young Batswana have gone through what Moswaane fell short of calling “very unfriendly service” at the hands of youth officers who are suppose to
“The fact that the process can be quite lengthy and tedious must not discourage us from accessing these initiatives,” she said.
She encouraged young people to be resilient and persevere because at times many give up easily when they are told their business ideas were turned down. The youth, she said needed to demand quality service from these officers as they exist primarily to serve them.
“Each application is rejected on its own merit, for instance insufficient project input (budget), market saturation, and this calls for a greater need to have sufficient knowledge on operational requirements for projects one wishes to be funded for,” Leepang said.
In his speech, President Khama assured the nation that youth development and empowerment is one of the priority areas of his government, as it sets to reduce youth unemployment and poverty.
“Our attention in the past year has been on the introduction of a new component under the Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) in the form of Tirelo Setshaba to engage youth in meaningful community development programmes, while giving them the needed experience for the world of work,” he said. Botswana National Service Programme launched in April 2014, and to date 11,200 young people have enrolled in the programme. The National Internship Programme had 4,228 interns as of April 2014 whereas the Youth Development Fund, aimed at supporting young entrepreneurs with financing for their business ideas funded over 1,000 projects at the tune of P 99 million for the financial year 2013/14. “Reports indicate that for the financial year 2013/14, 592 young people have been funded to the value of P 6.9 million under the LIMID programme, 2,024 plots have been allocated to the youth and 9,794 youth freelancers were engaged,” he stated.