12 BDP constituencies and two opposition areas share P28 million
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) constituencies have been allocated the largest share in the first phase of the distribution of the alcohol levy poverty eradication funds. Parliament was told this week that 12 of the 14 constituencies that will receive the first allocation of the alcohol levy are under the BDP representation. The 14 constituencies include Barolong, Mahalapye East, Mahalapye West, Moshopa, Shoshong, Tswapong South, Kanye North, Gantsi North, Bobirwa, Mmadirare, South East South and Tonota South. The other two beneficiaries, which are under opposition parties include Ngwaketse West of the Botswana National Front and the South East South, which falls under the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
The constituencies are expected to share the P28 million of the P128 million reserved by the government under the alcohol levy poverty eradication programme for the year ending March 2012. Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Patrick Masimolole said that beneficiaries from selected constituencies would be identified by social workers in collaboration with the village development committees.“The process of identification of beneficiaries has started.
The intent is to ensure that all constituencies benefit evenly in the rollout of the projects,”Masimolole explained. The Minister further stated that the project has already begun in the South East and is to be rolled out to the rest of the constituencies following tender awards. Masimolole was responding to a question by Ryna Makosha, Member of Parliament for Nata/Gweta constituency on Monday. The MP had wanted to know among others things, how the P28 million budget allocation for the poverty eradication project would be utilized. A whooping P258 858 251 31 was collected by the Alcohol levy fund in a single financial year of 2010/2011, the Assistant Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri said. He however indicated that, P141 million of the total amount was remitted into the fund.
Part of the funds raised from the levy went to non-governmental organisations for public education and alcohol awareness and prevention activities, and government departments, which received P 17, 125,000.00 for various activities that included road safety awareness and alcohol prevention programmes in schools.
The alcohol levy however, continues to receive mixed reactions from different sections of society. Vusa Mabuza, a teacher at Selolwe Secondary School in Francistown argues that using the alcohol levy for poverty eradication does not solve any problem. “It rather impoverishes people who drink alcohol. We must understand that alcohol is a social beverage and it is also addictive. So people will always drink alcohol for as long as they can and if prices keep going up, families will continue to suffer as alcohol drinkers divert more money to beer from the family budget. This alcohol levy thing is costing us.”
Another alcohol drinker, Nkobi Poloko, a construction labourer said he was not aware of the purpose of the alcohol levy before but now he appreciates it.. “When they started raising beer prices I decided to drink the cheaper home-made brews because I did not understand what the fuss was all about. But if it is about eradicating poverty then I do not have a problem, but Ill keep drinking what I can afford.”