The challenges that cropped up in programmes aimed at dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic did not come as a surprise to government – at least according to Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Sethabelo Modukanele.
Speaking in a consultative meeting at Francistown Council Chambers last Friday, Modukanele admitted they were not prepared and thus had to start the programme without thorough planning.
“Just as Minister Eric Molale said, we started the programme and built the ship as we sailed,” he conceded.
Modukanele was speaking at a meeting attended by the three Francistown Legislators, the Town Clerk, Mayor, Deputy Mayor and the Coordinator for Covid-19 Food Relief, Gabriel Seeletso.
“We had to shoot as we run, and that only meant that we were obviously going to have problems. We were never under any false impression that there’d be no problems. We knew there’d be problems,” reiterated the Assistant Minister.
Modukanele, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Lerala Maunatlala, said it was important that leaders learn from every fall so mistakes are not repeated.
He revealed that a deliberate decision was taken to give food supply tenders to citizen shop owners instead of the established foreign-owned chain stores.
“We also knew that this was going to create problems, since most of these small shop owners do not have capacity. But we still found it wise to give them the business!” he said, before reminding his audience that awarding the tenders to the capable foreign-owned businesses would have created its own backlash.
In their remarks, the second city’s three MPs decried the lack of coordination in the way food is being distributed in their constituencies.
Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi said while assessment was done in an orderly manner, food distribution was haphazard.
Francistown West MP, Ignatius Moswaane appealed to the Council to consider re-assessing some of his constituents who were initially rejected. Moswaane argued that reasons advanced for some rejections were not valid or were based on uninformed decisions.
“You cannot reject someone simply because they have a child who’s employed, when there’s no law that forces children to take care of their parents,” reasoned Moswaane.
He noted some families are broken to a point that even though they share a yard, they don’t share a plate and thus advised that during assessments, such dynamics should be considered.
Sharing similar sentiments, from the other side of the city, Francistown East MP, Billy Buti declared priority should have been given to areas such as Monarch, Coloured and Satellite before rolling out the programme to other locations.
“I don’t think the situation in Molapo Estates would be dire than say Monarch,” he quipped.
Buti further called for the amendment of record keeping instruments to ensure suppliers are only paid for stuff they supplied.
“With the current system beneficiaries sign at the bottom of the paper even if they didn’t get all the listed products. They should be a way they can tick the products they received, otherwise government will continue paying for supplies that were never delivered,” he concluded.