Popular youth entrepreneur, Kaone Ramontshonyana of the Big Brother Africa fame, says while President Khama is one of the best leaders in Africa, his policies are being fouled by greedy individuals who take food out of young people’s mouths.
In an exclusive interview with Botswana Guardian this week, Ramontshonyana lamented that Khama’s efforts to make the country Africa’s best shining example were being ruined by such corrupt and greedy government employees.Narrating his experiences, the former Big Brother Africa contestant said he had suffered at the hands of government employees, in particular staff at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. Even though the ministry enjoys reasonable budget allocations to fund youth projects, the money falls into “dirty hands of people who want young people to bribe them to get the funds”, he alleged.
In his typical blunt style, the renowned poet said he had been disappointed by government employees who discredited him because he had refused to become part of shoddy deals. “Imagine reaching the final stages of getting your P100 000 grant approved and you are told by an employee that you will have to give him P20 000 to get it quickly,” he said, explaining that the reality at the ministry was that greedy employees wanted to share the funds with the youth, thus destroying President Khama’s noble gesture of youth empowerment schemes.
“Not once, not twice have I come across people at the ministry with this corrupt mentality. But I refused to succumb because I knew dirty money never takes you anywhere,” he said.
The 31-year old from Kanye who started Rural Swagger, a leatherworks business during his Big Brother fame, said he had since halted the business due to poor reception and support by the ministry staff. “For them to sell my products locally and outside, they believed I had to give in to their so called ‘secret negotiations’ where they wanted to have portions of my money. But I refused to sell myself short,” he said furiously.
He bemoaned that a lot of young people, especially those who were succeeding in the music industry, had fallen prey to corruption at the ministry. “The government is perfect in what it wants to do for the youth, but greedy and corrupt individuals at the ministry are destroying those efforts,” he said, calling for the screening of ministry staff.
The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Thapelo Olopeng, could not be reached for comment. However, President Khama’s senior private secretary George Tlhalerwa said he would call Montshonyana and set him up with senior officials at the ministry, specifically the Permanent Secretary. “I cannot deny that there is corruption in Botswana, but I wonder how and why employees can go to the extent of stealing poor youth’s grants. This also raises alarm that there is laziness at the ministry,” he said. Tlhalerwa further said the youth should report such individuals to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes.