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P10 million x 57 = P570 million x 3 = P1, 710. 000 billion

SANDY GRANT
What a week with the P10 million sweetener unsurprisingly holding fast in the news. Seemingly, it is naïve to ask from where this money is being taken? It is naïve to ask who will be responsible for it and how it will be secured and accounted for?

It is probably also naïve to ask if the VDCs will be given guidelines as to how this money may and may not be used? As has been the experience of the Trump administration in America, information is dribbling out bit by bit – it being the view, very obviously, that we, the electorate, should not know how this decision about the P10 million was arrived at and indeed who took the decision.

Astonishingly even now, it appears that we have been allowed only a fraction of the basic information everyone now needs. From here, we gather that Dikgosi are to be kept out of the way. From there, we learn that MPs are not to be involved. And then District Councillors are also included in the keep out of the way list.

From another quarter, we gather that the P10 million is to be given to each constituency for each of the next three years. Does that take us up to the next election, there being little point going beyond it? But that leaves the Village Development Committees and the District Commissioners and the unmentioned role of the latter, to date, which could prove to be of great interest. I have no idea if there has been research on the VDCs but assume that their track record varies from the admirable to the deplorable. By their nature, membership of VDCs is bound to be a matter of family status and privilege, and thus a virtual closed shop.

There are the perks which are available to all VDC members, not admittedly large scale, but enough to ensure that they are carefully and jealously protected by a closing of ranks. There are also the opportunities for gaining a few extra pula which can come their way. On the other hand, it does seem that some villages have no control over their VDCs even if they had elected its members. In other words, some VDCs, perhaps many, have become a power in the land in their own right. This can happen, I believe, when family networks are involved as they are bound to be almost everywhere.  The top families in the social scale rule the roost, the rest are kept on the margins. How can it be otherwise? But I am woefully unclear about the situation in the urban centres.

Do

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constituencies there have an equivalent to the rural areas VDCs? If so, how do they work? In Gaborone it may be possible that something of the kind exists in say, Old Naledi but it is hard to imagine that the same arrangement might exist in a Phakalane. Gaborone, Francistown and Phikwe – the urban centres - have a total of ten constituencies.

If MPs and Town Councillors to be kept out of the equation in these ten, who or what will get the ten million per constituency? But what seems to be the objective behind this new initiative? Employment creation, presumably and limited forms of community need.

One urgent need which would hugely benefit all the constituencies would be to upgrade the internet system. Presumably, however, it is believed that such a move would not help to win the election. But assistance has been available to local entrepreneurs for the last thirty years and more to those who wanted to engage in brick/block making, chickens and school uniforms.

Only few succeeded and abandoned chicken farms are probably to be found littered across the entire country. The reasons for these failures were inadequate business skills, an inability to tap into the market and inadequate skills.

But now the attempt is to be made yet again with repeats to replicate such projects as Mochudi’s attempt to start a market because other countries had them, so why not there? When the market was created, it was reaIised why one had not previously existed – there was nothing to market! But what happens now when a VDC has been defunct for several years?

How can there not be cut throat competition in each place by those not previously interested or concerned to get a seat on the Board? And then what will happen to all those millions? Surprise, surprise one VDC member has bought himself a super luxury BMW, another has built herself a mini-palace whilst a third has drilled and equipped a borehole. Of course, it can be argued that even to suggest that anything of this sort could happen is both unduly pessimistic and unfair. But there are widely held concerns about the nature and performance of VDCs which need to be  addressed before the P10 million, up and down the country, is optimistically placed under so many mattresses.



Etcetera II

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