Parliament has rejected a motion that requested government to increase the number of paid Village Development Committees (VDCs) and Ward Development Committees (WDCs) meetings from one to three per month.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Selebi-Phikwe East, Kgoberego Nkawana had tabled this motion. Presenting the motion, Nkawana said VDCs and WDCs were faced with many responsibilities in their daily work and needed to be appreciated.
He stated that VDCs and WDCs hold a number of meetings in a month because of the bulk of work they are faced with as leaders of the village, but government recognises and pays for only one meeting per month.
Nkawana stated that despite being volunteers the increment would go a long way in improving the lives of office bearer especially that majority of them are unemployed.
“Government currently pays them P375 for one meeting sitting per month. This is little money looking at the fact that Committee members are unemployed and have families to support,” Nkawana argued.
“As MPs we depend on them to facilitate things on our behalf back in our constituencies whilst here, but we are paid a sitting allowance of P450 per day. I plead with you all to support this motion because it talks about people’s welfare.”
Supporting Nkawana’s motion, the MP for Sefhare/Ramokgonami, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang said when talking about different issues in Parliament, MPs always praise and appreciate the work that VDCs and WDCs are doing something, which shows that their work is visible.
“I do not think this is a motion that we should take a lot of time debating, it seems like these people are on semi-full time employment. There is no day that one can visit a kgotla and do not find VDC members. These people oversee almost everything, they monitor and evaluate projects for example they facilitate Ipelegeng projects, plan and facilitate kgotla meetings and constituency fund projects,” Nkawana said.
For his part,
“The problem that this country is faced with is not shortage of funds but is misplaced priorities, for example going out to elect 119 specially-elected councillors and MPs whilst the people have voted for those that they want to represent them,” Keorapetse said.
“These are misplaced priorities that I am talking about. Each and every time when the Auditor General’s report is released there is a section of wasteful expenditure, showing the problem of misplaced priorities which even economists have raised several times.”
Responding to Nkawana’s motion, the assistant minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kgotla Autlwetse said no one who can dispute the good work that VDCs and WDCs were doing. However, he said they were constituted to oversee and coordinate developments at the respective villages or wards and membership to those committees was voluntary.
“Increasing the number of meetings from one to three a month may be too frequent as some have other commitments and responsibilities including being gainfully employed. There is however budgetary provision for one paid special meeting per month,” he said.
Autlwetse revealed that VDCs and WDC currently have 7,083 members jointly and government currently pays sitting allowance of P35, 226, 120 annually and if government can agree to the request presented through the motion it will be forced to part way with P105, 678,360 annually.
Despite having mixed feelings when debating the motion, the MPs rejected it with majority of them pointing to shortage of funds as an obstacle to its adoption and implementation.