The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Khumo Matlhare has revealed that the Mpule Kwelagobe Children’s Centre needs P3.5 million for refurbishment.
Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee last week, Matlhare said the Ministry intends to hand over the centre to Jwaneng Town Council. He said his Ministry did not budget for the money that the centre requires for the refurbishment.
The centre accommodates under-privileged and orphaned children between 0-18 years when the family structure had failed dismally. It has 35 to 40 children, but has the capacity for 60 children.
“We were aware of the situation at the centre because of financial constraints; the Ministry does not have that money. The reason why we want to hand it to council is for it to take care of the centre. The council will liaise with Debswana Company for it to help to renovate the centre. Debswana has an agreement with us on the matter,” Matlhare said.
The MP for Jwaneng/Mabutsane constituency, Shawn Ntlhaile wanted to know if the Ministry had undertaken an assessment of the centre and why they would want to transfer their problems to council.
“If indeed the Ministry knew that Mpule Kwelagobe Centre needs major maintenance, why are you handing it to council when you know that councils do not have money? Does the Ministry really care about those children who are at the centre? Can your Ministry avail the agreement that you have with Debswana regarding the centre,” Ntlhaile asked.
Matlhare said the council would be able to take care of the centre much better
“Debswana mining company is always helping at the centre. We have told Debswana that we don’t have money to renovate the centre and to keep it at the standard that is required to be,” he said.
Ntlhaile also demanded to know what the Ministry is doing regarding the children who are always roaming the streets of Jwaneng since their lives are in danger.
“We were not aware that there are kids roaming in the town. The Ministry had taken some children to villages that they were coming from. If those vendors are back with children then we will talk to the Ministry of Lands and again see how council could assist the children,” Matlhare said.
Ntlhaile asked if the Ministry is aware that the Roman Catholic Church wanted to help those children after the council rejected them.
Mpule Kwelagobe Centre is a government initiative started in 2000 as an NGO with only three housemothers, a social worker and the first child to be admitted at the centre. It was established to provide residential care, support and protection to OVCs in a residential environment.