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Boko may be rejected as Presidential candidate

The rivalry between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president, Advocate Duma Boko and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president, Dr Sidney Pilane played out at the magistrate court this Friday at a hearing where the latter wants the former and his wife to be struck off the Voters’ roll for violating section 67 of the constitution.

Pilane is acting under the instructions of one John Keemenao Siele who is adamant that Boko is not a resident of Phase II in Gaborone as he purports rather his principal residence is Tlokweng. According to Pilane, Boko and his lawyers are well aware that what is alleged before the court is true.  Pilane is also representing another complainant who wants another UDC candidate, Haskins Nkaingwa struck off the roll in Gaborone North because he is not a resident there. Pilane is most likely to also contest as a Parliamentary candidate in Gaborone North.

Boko's lawyer, attorney Dick Bayford this week asked presiding magistrate, Mogi Paya for a postponement to a later date. Allegations against the leader of Opposition (LOO) if argued successfully in court may make him ineligible to contest for election at the Bonninton North constituency allegedly because it is not his principal residence. This could also mean that Boko will not run as a Presidential candidate against Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leader, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and Alliance for Progressives (AP) president Ndaba Gaolathe.

Parallel to the case against Boko, AP leader, Ndaba Gaolathe also has eight more cases challenging his eligibility to run as a candidate in Gaborone Bonnington South. Last week he won two cases and pledged not to seek costs from those who questioned his principal residence as per section 67 of the constitution.

Meanwhile, Boko’s lawyer, Bayford told the magistrate that they need more time to advice themselves on the matter, so as to safeguard Boko's rights under the prevailing circumstances. The UDC President’s lawyer had also questioned the process through which some of the evidence against Boko was gathered, at one point referring to a subpoena to the clerk of the National Assembly as “fraudulent”.

The complainant against Boko had solicited information about Boko from the National assembly and was denied because of the privileges of privacy extended to Members of Parliament but when the substantive clerk went on a trip, according to Bayford information was accessed through an Acting officer. Further information on Boko has been retrieved from the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and from Water Utilities Corporation (WUC). Bayford explained that they had to understand Boko’s case in the context of Botswana democracy, “because if he is struck off the roll he will not run for Parliament or Presidency as the leader of the main opposition party.”

Pilane did not object the postponement because "We want them to come prepared, fully prepared." However he dismissed Bayford’s arguments insisting that Boko was a voter just like all other Batswana. “All that is being raised is irrelevant, what matters is the law,” he said. Pilane is of the view that Boko is not special, he must be subjected to the same laws as all other citizens.

Pilane advised presiding Magistrate Mogi Paya not to be intimidated at the hearing. He said: "Please don't be intimidated by the attempt to make him (Boko) special because he is not. He is a voter just like you and me, it is only in that capacity that he is before you. He is not above the law. He is as subject to the law as you and me. The position he holds is irrelevant in this debate." Boko’s case has been postponed to a later date, and Pilane has indicated that all the evidence they gathered was to ensure that they assist the magistrate in determining the outcome of the trial.

Uyapo Ndadi, a renowned Gaborone attorney representing AP leader Ndaba Gaolathe in a similar matter has pointed out that stakes are high in these election. He said the objections have grave consequences, because the Magistrate’s decision is final and not subject to appeal.
 “For example, if the objector succeeds against Rre Boko by getting his name removed from the voters roll, then he will not be able eligible to run as an MP and as President, because for one to do so, they must be registered to vote.”

John Siele the objector in the Boko case, has lodged a case against Alliance for Progressives Gaborone Bonnington North parliamentary candidate, Dr Kaelo Molefhe before court. Siele is a registered as an independent candidate for Moselewapula ward council seat. In a similar fashion Siele argues that Molefhe is registered to vote in the upcoming elections using a physical address said not to be his principal residential place. The claim is alleged to be contrary to the Electoral Act.

Meanwhile Pilane and Boko will tussle again in court on August 29 in a matter where the BMD is praying with the court to reverse the UDC decision to expel it from the coalition. The panel of judges will preside over the matter. Bayford is representing the UDC again on the matter.

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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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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.


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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.


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