- Says gov’t is willing but coffers do not permit
- Acknowledges allowances fall short of cost of living
- Intern programme has 3 500 participants
The government is unable to increase internship allowances and allowances under the Graduate Volunteer Scheme (GVS) any time soon due to financial constraints, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development Tumiso Rakgare, has said.
Rakgare was responding to a question from young people attending the Youth Town Hall meeting that he hosted in Gaborone last Friday.
The minister acknowledged that the allowances fall short of the cost of living but emphasized that the government has no funds to cater for an increment at present, noting that the internship programme currently has about 3 500 participants.
Rakgare said the government is willing to raise the allowances and will do so when the budget permits. “We have discussed this issue before as cabinet and are still discussing it as we also want the allowance to be increased,” he said. “You have to understand that this is a government programme and there is no how I can make such a huge decision alone.”
He added that the government is committed to providing opportunities for the youth in different areas such as arts, sports and entrepreneurship in order to empower them to better their lives. “It is very important to understand that compared to other countries, Botswana continues to do more for its youth,” the minister said.
“You all need to understand the sacrifices that the government continues to make for its people. There is no better-placed demographic than you, the youth, to seriously heed this call. This is so because it determines your present and future fortunes.”
In addition, the Minister expressed concern over some young people’s behaviour on social media who hurl insults at other users. He urged them to desist from such behavior and implored them to use the platform to come up with solutions that are beneficial to the nation.
“Most young people use social media to insult people or for stuff that does not add value to their lives. We won’t give them the opportunity to trend,” he said, adding “Government has invested heavily in training many of you in IT and its related fields. The onus now rests with you to lead the path in making digital technology work to make the life of an ordinary Motswana better by using technology”.
Meanwhile, more Youth Town Hall meetings are expected to be held in other parts of the country in coming weeks, where Rakgare and his assistant Buti Billy will engage with the youth.