SELEBI-PHIKWE: Piloting of the coupon system to replace the current system of giving destitute and orphans their monthly rations will start in October this year.
Under the current system clients collect their ration on stipulated dates and has limited items to choose from. The rationing process is said to have changed the focus of social workers taking priority over professional duties, hence the need to introduce an alternative system.
Speaking during a full council meeting, Selebi-Phikwe mayor Amogelang Mojuta said the new system will be open to merchants using a debit card. Which means all suppliers will have to install a point of sale device to enable beneficiaries to make transactions. He said the normal process of enrolment of beneficiaries by the Social Welfare and Community Development department will be maintained. He said the new system is a move in the right direction as it will restore dignity and offer beneficiaries a wider choice. "It will also eliminate discrimination and the convenience that it will bring is most welcome. It is the wish of government to carry all stakeholders along in this dispensation and I urge all businesspeople to gear up for the new arrangement lest they get caught off guard and miss out on this opportunity."
Explaining the coupon system, the Chief Community Development Officer, Barulaganye Mosetlha, said a consultancy was done in Francistown, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Central District councils. The tender has been awarded to Smart Switch Botswana for actual design, printing and delivery of the food coupons.
Mosetlha said the beneficiaries present smart coupon at any Smart Switch
Mosetlha added that the list of beneficiaries will be sent to the Social Services Department for processing and the system hosts will process files and credit them accordingly. She added that the electronic payment system will restore dignity and offer choice, eliminate discrimination, it is convenient and there are no transaction charges on purchase. She noted that the new system reduces costs, eliminates fraud and has increased accountability. The coupon is valid for 10 to 14 years. Mosetlha added that for the first year the system will be managed centrally and decentralised in the second year, which is the 2010/2011 financial year. The company at district level will train Social and Community Development staff members. The beneficiaries at P40 each will pay for lost cards.
She said that the coupon system is meant to benefit the beneficiaries, not the suppliers and that suppliers who want to benefit from this system will have to "intensify their marketing strategies in order to attract these customers".
Welcoming this new development, councillors said they have been looking forward to such innovations for a long time. Councillor Benjamin Bagayi also said it is untrue that the new system is intended to profit some businesses but the ordinary people.