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Tough times for Ipelegeng workers

Workers take front-line position in Covid-19 fight

Francistown West Member of Parliament, Ignatius Moswaane, has called on his government to spare thousands of Ipelegeng workers who have been frozen out since the country went into a State of Emergency.

The Francistown Legislator said he’s worried that some Ipelegeng workers are part of the Covid-19 front line staff without any clear conditions of service.

“It is not clear whether they’re still under the same programme or they are now civil servants,” said Moswaane.

“How are they protected from the disease in case some come into contact with it during the 10 month contract of service?” Moswaane asked.

“In fact are they even the right people to be at the fore front of the fight against Corona? Without any skills and with no salary. Isn’t this exploitation?”

In an impassioned letter to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Eric Molale, Moswaane said, Ipelegeng is a programme meant to engage communities only on labour intensive projects which are low risks by nature.

“The beneficiaries cannot be turned into front-line workers without consultation with Members of Parliament who adopted the programme in the first place,” he said.

The MP said the government is indirectly stopping the programme which was set up under the Millennium Development Goals in 2008.

“Each ward used to engage 100 people every month on a rotational basis, now only 28 people per ward have been engaged for 10 months. What is going to happen to thousand others?” asked Moswaane.

The fervent MP said Ipelegeng beneficiaries will be turned into paupers overnight as there has not been any explanation on how they’ll survive.

“We’re adopting poverty as a lifestyle and this can be avoided. Chronic diseases thrive in poverty. There’ll be no social distancing when people are hungry, women, children and the elderly persons will be exposed to bad elements because of hunger and poverty,” wrote Moswaane in his impassioned letter.

However in the run-up to the 2019 elections President Mokgweetsi Masisi had assured Batswana that his government had no plans to stop Ipelegeng programme.

Addressing a kgotla meeting on 30th July in Shoshong, President Masisi said his government would never make such a decision, as it recognizes the value it has on the citizens.

He said the government deliberately increased Ipelegeng intake recognizing the poverty levels across the country and how it continues to help many citizens.

In their May 2019 report, Statistics Botswana stated that 70 000 Ipelegeng jobs were created by 2018, with a budget of P500 million given for the year 2019.

Ipelegeng is a labour intensive public works program targeting poor able-bodied adults (over 18 years old) without work opportunities.

Beneficaries are engaged in a temporary and rotational employment.

A lottery system is used in some places due to the high demand for placements.

Beneficiaries earn P580 per month inclusive of a meal at P5 per day.

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