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Thabane warns against abuse of grants

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Limpho Sello


THABA-TSEKA — The Lesotho government has taken over the role of primary funder of the Child Grants Programmes (CGP) currently covering five of Lesotho’s ten districts. Development partners Unicef and the UN, who played the fundamental role of funding the programme in its infancy, have taken over the role of technical assistance as well as coordination and institutional capacity strengthening.

The official takeover was launched in the Thaba-Tseka district on Thursday, with children from Lesobeng and neighbouring villages being the latest beneficiaries to be incorporated into the CGP by being awarded child grants.

CGP beneficiaries receive M350 to M1 500 depending on the number of children in a family. In September 2013 almost 50 000 orphans and vulnerable children were reached with a cash grant, an equivalent of 500 000 individuals in the 10 districts of Lesotho.

The Lesotho government took charge of the CGP two months ago but decided to launch it officially in the Thaba-Tseka district on Thursday. Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Social Development Minister ‘Matebatso Doti, Unicef Regional Director Steven Allen and European Union Ambassador Hans Duynhouwer attended the launch.

‘Malesia Rantšo, a resident of Lesobeng Ha-Mohau in Thaba-Tseka, told Sunday Express on the same day that she used to collect fire-wood for aged people in the village “to earn a living” for her two children and husband before getting grants from the government.

According to Rantšo, life was tough for her family because they did not have a reliable income besides collecting fire-wood or her husband working temporarily for same farmers in the area. “We would sometimes wonder where the next meal would come from, but now things have changed because this is my second grant from when they started,” Rantšo said.

She said the money will help to buy groceries and clothes for the children at home, adding she was very thankful that “government has remembered us”. This paper again had the opportunity to talk to ’Makeneuoe ’Matli, a resident of the Thebe-ea-Khale village in Lesobeng, who said she received the grant on behalf of her three daughters’ children.

She said for her own survival and the grandchildren’s she sold fire-wood because she has trees but that the money was “not enough to meet all necessary amenities of her family”. ’Matli added that she was delighted to have received the grant on behalf of her grandchildren as it was going to “immensely transform our lives”.

At a similar occasion Doti said she was touched by the programme and thanked Thabane for trusting her to run the Ministry of Social Development. “I do not have much to say apart from thanking you (Thabane) for putting me in charge of these children’s welfare,” Doti said.

Doti again thanked the Unicef and the UN for “the wonderful work they have done”. Thabane, when officially launching the programme, said people must “stop harassing children”.  He also appealed to the civil servants who administer the distribution of child grants in the ministry to run the programme with justice and fairness.

“If there is a person who knows a person, or will not be able to live up to these terms, they must pack their bags and go,” Thabane said. “The money should again be given to those children that really need it and not to those who do not deserve it.”

Furthermore, the premier said it was a known fact that children who qualify for the CGP are “vulnerable children and orphans”.  “I do not want to see this being tainted by corruption. Work justly because I hate this thing called corruption.”

Allen said he wanted to congratulate the government of Lesotho for its continued leadership in the implementation of the CGP since its inception in 2009. “As Unicef we are proud to be associated with this targeted child focused intervention which contributes to building the resilience of vulnerable populations,” Allen said.

He said Unicef and EU have worked together with the government of Lesotho from 2009 to provide technical assistance required for the implementation of this programme.

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