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High Court decriminalises gay sex

In a historic turn of events this week, the Botswana High Court judge, Justice Michael Leburu made a ruling which finally decriminalised same sex sexual act, rendering the colonial laws on gay sex unconstitutional.

The matter had been brought before court for determination by a 21 year old University of Botswana student, Letsweletse Motshiediemang, meanwhile Lesbians, Gays & Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), was admitted as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the matter. Motshiediemang was challenging the constitutionality of sections 164(a), 164(c) and 167 of the Botswana Penal Code. These provisions criminalised same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adults in Botswana and imposes a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment.

When delivery the judgement, Justice Leburu said the court has determined that it is not the business of the law to regulate private consensual sexual encounters between adults.He emphasized that the same applies to issues of private decency and/or indecency between consenting adults. “Any regulation of conduct deemed indecent, done in private between consenting adults, is a violation of the constitutional right to privacy and liberty,” Leburu said.

Leburu recited that there must remain, as already determined a realm of private morality and immorality which should not be the province of the law, particularly where there is no victim or complainant and when such conduct is consensual.

“No justification has been given by the respondent as to why a person’s right to privacy and autonomy ought to be curtailed, relating to consensual acts done in private.in any event, such curtailment of fundamental rights cannot be justified within our democratic dispensation, nor do such abridgement satisfy the proportionality test.”

“It is hereby accordingly ordered that the word “private be and is hereby severed and excised from section 167 of the penal code,” said Leburu. The judgement delivered stated that it is the decision of the court that sections 164(a): 164(c) and 165 of the penal code are declared ultra vires the constitution, in that they violate section 3 (liberty, privacy and dignity): section 9 (privacy) and section 15 (discrimination).

Leburu stated that: “Dignity speaks, it has its sound. Without dignity human life loses its value. To deny each person his or her humanity is to deny them right to life. Human dignity is harmed by unfair treatment. Sexual intercourse is not just for purposes of procreation but also an expression of love. There is nothing justifiable about discriminating against members of the LGBT society. Discrimination has no place in this world. All human beings are born equal. Homosexuality is another form of sexuality that has been suppressed for years.”

Leburu’s court ruling received international prominence as Botswana joined other countries where gay sex is legal. The ruling comes barely a month after Kenya High Court upheld that gay sex is criminal offence. In a recent statement released by the Botswana Democratic Party(BDP), President Mokgweetsi Masisi who was cited in the judgment to have had a great impact in influencing the decriminalisation of same sex during the launch of the commemoration of 16 days against violence on women and children when he said: “There are also many people of the same sex relationships in this country, who have been violated and also suffered in silence for fear of being discriminated, just like other citizens, they deserve to have their rights protected.”

BDP chairperson of Communication and International Relations, Kagelelo Kentse said the recent statement pertaining to the LGBT case ruling was in its entirety solely the view of the party and not that of the state.  “What the state decides to do with the ruling remains the prerogative of the State,” he said.  

Information reaching this publication reveals that senior government prosecutors are working around the clock to advice the Attorney General on the next move of the state. This publication has learnt that despite the victory by the Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexual and Transgender groups’ chances of the state

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Government sitting on 4 400 vacant posts

14th September 2020
(DPSM) Director Goitseone Naledi Mosalakatane

Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.

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FNBB projects deeper 50 basis point cut for Q4 2020

14th September 2020
Steven Bogatsu

Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.

The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter.  According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.

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Food suppliers give Gov’t headache – report

14th September 2020
Food suppliers give Gov’t headache

An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.

Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.

There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.

The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.

Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.

In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.

“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.

In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.

“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”

Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.

In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.

In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.

This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.

In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.

Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.

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