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Ga Mma Masire sold to a Dutch organisation

STAFF WRITER
Ga Mma Masire will soon have new owners
The famous National Youth Centre in Gaborone West, popularly known as Ga Mma Masire has been sold to a Netherlands-based youth organisation. It is still not clear how much was paid for the place. The sale has left throngs of local young people who previously accessed services from the centre in the lurch, sources say.

The Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) ran the centre, and more than 15 youth organisations affiliated to the Council were housed at the centre.

Subsequent to Cabinet’s decision to dissolve the BNYC in 2015, the centre was closed. Organisations such as Youth Health Organisation, Youth Action Society, BW JOBS4GRADUATES, Captive Eye and many more offering solutions to challenges and social ills facing the youth have nowhere to go following the decision to sell the centre to the Netherlands-based organisation, Young Africa.

The BNYC affiliated youth organisations that operated from the centre addressed issues affecting the youth such as drug abuse, social ills, as well as housing Spice World Day Care Centre, an Internet Café; which were highly subsidised. Mmegi team toured the facility yesterday, and was greeted by the scene of desolation and lifelessness. The few people hanging about explained that young people still come in large numbers after hours to use the sport grounds. But uncertainty reigns supreme as to whether that will be the case after the buyer occupies the premises.

“The pre-school and the Internet café were long closed. Many organisations which were based here are dead as they've got no place to operate from. This has badly affected Gaborone West youth because the bulk of the non-governmental organisations which were here dealt with drugs and substance abuse, behavioural change programmes,” said one man found at the deserted place.

The very few remaining organisations, which negotiated for extension of stay, say the new occupants of the premises are set to move in soon.  The National Youth Development Trust, which ran the centre, was established in 1997 by the BNYC to provide educational, cultural, social and counseling programmes, to involve youth in constructive endeavours whereby society and youth may profit.

It was also tasked with fostering income-generating projects using local resources as much as possible. It was to also cooperate with similar youth organisations

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in promoting international understanding and awareness, facilitate leadership training, and establish and maintain links with Government, civil society organisations and other bodies concerned with youth development. The centre kept the youth busy, acted as a networking hub and helped address some of the social ills. It also acted as a networking hub. It had sports and recreation facilities, but since it closed, these youth organisations have died.  Young Africa is an organisation that is based in the Netherlands and so far it has been set up in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia.

Last year, the organisation announced its ultimate goal is to empower young people with vocational skills in 35 different trades, assist in job placements and access to finance to start businesses, and had plans to establish a centre in Botswana where most of their programmes would be undertaken.

“We don’t believe they will offer the kind of solutions we have been rendering to this community. We hear they will be training young people, but what about the widespread problems of drugs and substance abuse here in G-West. We believe these challenges require home-grown solutions instead of imported interventions,” said a youth leader at the centre.

Recently, Gaborone West Police deputy station commander, assistant Superintendent Seitiketso Mpusetsang said the area is amongst the leading in crime levels. He said this is due to the high usage of drugs by youths. “Most of them after using these drugs have no money and nothing to sell to get more drugs, then they resort to crime.

That is why the crime levels are high in the area,” Mpusetsang said. He advised members of the community to form groups to fight crime in the area.

Upon the BNYC dissolution in 2015, the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture was tasked with managing the assets of the Council that included selling any of BNYC’s assets to pay creditors.



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