MABESEKWA: The president of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Duma Boko has pinpointed the ruling party’s poverty eradication initiatives and minimum wage as the root causes of abject poverty amongst Batswana.
Boko said Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) underestimates Batswana’s economic and social welfare by giving them ill-conceived poverty eradication schemes.
“When they look at your children, they see destitutes who deserve to work for Ipelegeng and earn low wages,” he told UDC’s Tonota-Mabesekwa star rally endorsing parliamentary candidate, Pono Moatlhodi.
“But when UDC look at your children we see future doctors, teachers, lawyers and economic drivers of our society.”
Boko said when UDC takes over after 2019 polls, they would increase the old age pension to P1,500 in order to improve the standard of living for pensioners.
He noted the elderly take care of the grandchildren whereas the government and private companies poorly pay their children.
The UDC president highlighted that most of the youth work in urban areas and get wages of close to P800 and their take home.
Boko said if old people want their situation to change from living under the misery of being poor they should vote for the UDC.
He revealed that they advised the BDP against poverty eradication schemes through the former president Ian Khama.
Boko said the hapless Ipelegeng workers work long hours under harsh weather conditions with no protective clothing to shield them from the sun and injuries while on duty.
The UDC president added that Ipelegeng workers do not have overalls, helmets nor gloves to protect their hands while working.
“People have been injured at Ipelegeng whilst on duty and some of them end up losing their sight and they will be sent home and become a burden to other family members,” he said.
He added that these workers should be provided with basic necessities and equipment to carry out their duties.
According to Boko, Ipelegeng is a waste of time more so that workers enroll for one month and remain unemployed thereafter.
He said the minimum wage is also a joke to an extent that the cleaners and drivers get paid P1,637 (A3 –scale) per month, and are expected to fend for their families.
Boko noted that when civil servants at A-scale rank have worked for 30 years under the leadership of BDP they would be paid up to P2,867 every month.
He said when one is about to reach P3, 000 they will be forced to retire and when they go home they would be hired under Ipelegeng programme, where one is expected to earn P530.
He said that backyard gardening backfired when the disadvantaged beneficiaries had to pay water bills that exceeded P5, 000.
“How can vegetables and hiring catering utensils such as pots, tables and chairs be a solution to eradicating poverty? Truth being told, the BDP has failed Batswana.”
Boko was not amused that there are some Batswana who enjoy being mistreated by BDP.
The UDC legislators once engaged Choppies in Parliament to answer why there are wage disparities in Botswana and other countries. For example, in South Africa a cashier earns P3,500 whereas in Botswana they get paid P800.
However, to their shock, Choppies’ response was bold when they told Parliament that they are following Botswana labour laws on minimum wages.
Boko said they then raised a motion of increasing the minimum wage to P3, 000, but the BDP used their numbers in Parliament to kill the motion.
According to him, under the leadership of the UDC the minimum wage would be set at P3, 000.
Boko also complained about lack of specialist doctors in clinics. He indicated that the BDP leadership uses nurses instead of hiring doctors and to make matters worse they are not even paid for the job.
At the rally, UDC welcomed to its ranks 58 new members.