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MPs refuse to vacate parley flats

Members of Parliament (MP) who are currently residing at Parliamentary Village flats have rejected an order to vacate the houses two weeks after the dissolution of parliament, arguing that their families will have nowhere to stay.

As President Masisi prepares to dissolve the parliament, government has taken a decision to refurbish the flats so that the incoming legislators find them in better state. Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) which has been given mandate, is set to re-paint and fix a number of structural damages. The flats’ windows, tables and other properties which were damaged during the 11th parliament will have to be replaced. WeekendPost however at time of going to press was yet to establish the total budget for the renovations.

A memo reminding the legislators to leave the flats has long been issued for them to see how they will rescue themselves but they decided not to respond until this week when they now approached President Mokgweetsi Masisi on the matter.  Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators led the request at the party’s last caucus meeting on Tuesday citing schools as the main reason.

Three MPs who spoke to this publication said it is not possible for them to vacate the houses with two months before the general elections. “There is no way how it can happen, our contract elapse in October. As far as I am concerned, we can only leave in October because our contract runs for five years,” said Francistown South MP Wynter Mmolotsi. Mochudi East MP Moagi Molebatsi also said: “We have families and some of my colleagues have their kids schooling in Gaborone so to vacate these houses is not practical.”

“As MPs we have requested President to leave us and our families to remain in these houses until end of November because we do have school going kids and some of them will be writing national examinations later this year. So we have requested to be left until then. And I must tell you that President listened to us and we will be here until then. So the renovations will maybe commence in December when the 12th parliament goes for recess,” BDP Chief Whip Liakat Kablay said when asked about this matter.

Masisi is expected to dissolve parliament anytime and apart from vacating their houses, the legislators will also be given two weeks to have cleaned up their offices located at government enclave. Not only that, constituency offices will also be closed as current legislators will cease being MPs. “Our constituency officers’ contracts will automatically elapse after that two weeks and even us as MPs this month we are likely to be getting our monthly wages for the last time depending on when the President dissolves parliament,” Kablay who is a candidate  for Letlhakeng-Lephepe constituency said.

The Parliamentary Village is a residential complex in Gaborone where MPs are housed free of charge for their entire term of office to execute their duty with ease. Earlier this year, it was revealed that MPs are failing to pay electricity bill amounting to around P200, 000. It was said since 2015, the MPs defaulted and it appears that those who have already lost primary elections or could lose during this year’s general elections intend to leave Parliament without having settled their bills. It is not clear which mechanism the government would use to force the MPs to pay the bills before parliament is dissolved for the general elections.

Parliamentary sources on the other hand told this publication that MPs have received letters requesting them to pay the bills with July set as the deadline for all to have paid. The arrangement between MPs and the government is that the cost of electricity used by an individual member should be borne by the member in full. It is said they should foot the bills every month something which they did in the formative months in parliament before defaulting.  However, in some instances it is said some legislators claim not to be aware of such agreement despite almost five years residing at Parliamentary Village.

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BODANSA strikes gold with a handsome P45K windfall from Turnstar Holdings

27th February 2024

The Botswana DanceSport Association (BODANSA) has been graced with a financial boon of P45,000 courtesy of Turnstar Holdings. This generous endowment is earmarked for the illustrious Botswana International Dance Sport Grand Prix Championships, which are scheduled to animate Gaborone from Friday to Saturday.

At a media engagement held early today, BODANSA’s Marketing Maestro, Tiro Ntwayagae, shared that Turnstar Holdings Limited has bestowed a gift of P45,000 towards the grand spectacle.

“We are thrilled to announce that this backing will enable us to orchestrate a cultural soirée at the Game City Marque locale, a night brimming with cultural fervor set for March 1, 2024, from 6pm to the stroke of midnight.

This enchanting space will also serve as the battleground for the preliminaries of traditional dance ensembles—spanning the rhythmically rich Setapa to the euphoric beats of Sebirwa, the spirited Seperu, the heavenly Hosana, and more—in a competition folded into the Traditional Dance Groups Category. The ensemble that dances into the judges’ hearts will clinch a grand prize of P10,000,” elaborated Ntwayagae.

He further illuminated that the cultural eve would not only celebrate traditional melodies but also the fresh beats of contemporary dance variants including Hip Hop, Sbujwa, Amapiano, among others, in a dazzling display of modern dance mastery.

Moreover, these championships carry the prestigious recognition by the World DanceSport Federation as a qualifying round for the Breakdance category for the Paris 2024 Olympics. “This is a monumental opportunity for athletes to leap towards their Olympic dreams during one of the penultimate qualifiers,” underscored Ntwayagae.

Looking ahead to March 2, 2024, the festivities will propel into the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena for the championship’s climactic showdowns encompassing Breakdance, Latin, and Ballroom Dancing.

 

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Government of Botswana yet to sign, ratify the UN-CRPD

26th February 2024

In Botswana, a beacon of democracy in Africa, the right to participate in the political discourse is a cornerstone of its societal structure. It’s an avenue through which citizens shape the rules and systems that govern their everyday lives. Despite this, recent studies indicate that Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs) are notably absent from political dialogues and face substantial hurdles in exercising their democratic freedoms.

Research within the nation has uncovered that IWDs encounter difficulties in engaging fully with the political process, with a pronounced gap in activities beyond mere voting. The call for environments that are both accessible and welcoming to IWDs is loud, with one participant, who has a physical disability, spotlighting the absence of ramps at voting venues and the dire need for enhanced support to facilitate equitable involvement in the electoral process.

The challenges highlighted by the study participants pinpoint the structural and social obstacles that deter IWDs from participating wholly in democracy. The inaccessibility of voting facilities and the lack of special accommodations for people with disabilities are critical barriers. Those with more significant or intellectual disabilities face even steeper challenges, often feeling marginalized and detached from political engagement.

To surmount these obstacles, there is an urgent appeal for Botswana to stride towards more inclusive and accessible political stages for IWDs. This necessitates a committed effort from both the government and relevant entities to enforce laws and policies that protect the rights of IWDs to partake in the political framework. Enhancing awareness and understanding of the political landscape among IWDs, alongside integrating inclusive practices within political entities and governmental bodies, is crucial.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing an inclusive political environment, Botswana can live up to its democratic ideals, ensuring every citizen, regardless of ability, can have a substantive stake in the country’s political future.

 

 

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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