While we are grappling with illegal gunmen who gate-crush congresses, rapists, murderers, the corruption prone, tax evaders and so on and so forth, let us pause and look at some aspects of the Law as it pertains to our beloved country and its humble, see no evil, hear no evil, talk no evil, law abiding people.
Is it working for us? In other words, does it serve the purpose for which it is intended? Does it serve to regulate behaviour? Maybe, maybe not. It really depends on how or from where one looks at it. For me .. well … here and there, but on the whole I think our Law is not that effective nor efficient. Or maybe it is because of how it is crafted, or interpreted or implemented, or just how I feel about it; I have no clue. I am saying this because I think we are using the Law to solve problems.
Is it intended that way? I really do not know, but that will not prevent me from representing my lay-man’s views in terms of what I think are deficiencies of some of our laws. Oops! Did I just write “deficiencies”? Mmm…h! I do not think I qualify for that. I wanted to, maybe write, irrelevant. Yes, irrelevant, unpredictable and most times un-implementable.
Is this a problem, or I am just making a mountain out of a mole hill? Well, I think it is and probably the reason we are not solving the problems we intend to solve is because we have not, as yet, recognised their existence, or we have, and just choose to ignore them. I just cannot comprehend why we always seem to tighten the screws every time the citizenry seems to be getting out of the way.
Are stiffer laws and punishments a solution to the problems besieging our lovely country? Have we ever considered that maybe it is the circumstances that the citizens of this country find themselves in, and unintentionally and innocently break the law, to make ends meet? Have we? I doubt! What then, is the use of tightening the screws if the circumstances remain the same? An exercise in futility? I guess so. We seem to be intent on the “HOW” aspect, as opposed to the “WHY” aspect.
We look at some variables, that suit us of course, not the equation. During a workshop, in Botswana sometime in February, 2016 or there about, aimed at evaluating where Botswana currently is regarding the death penalty and if enough is being done to minimise fatal errors, Justice Lovemore Chikopa of the Malawi Supreme Court, had this to say; “Talking too much about punishment and not enough focus on reducing people’s chances to offend and/or re-offend does not serve any good”. This says it all, ladies and gentlemen, and he was talking to us; seems we did not understand though.
I think we need to comprehensively concentrate on “why” people break the law, as opposed to “how” we can punish them for breaking the law. It is that simple! Even before the birth of Jesus Christ, Plato (427 to 347 B.C), posited that “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around them”. It amazes me that, in the 21st century, we still are not able to match the thinking abilities of people like Plato.
Therein lies the problem; our thinking abilities. We need to recognise the existence of a problem (detect the problem (this we do)), determine the cause of the problem by informed diagnostic methods (this we do not do) before we can even think of effecting a solution to the problem (this we do, and like doing). This I think is yet another problem. We have a propensity to effect solutions, by way of tightening our laws, without thoroughly diagnosing the cause of the problem. We have this irritating and ineffective “replace the fuse – all size fits all” mentality.
Our people will continue to innocently break the law, due to circumstances beyond their control and we will continue to tighten the screws. Those with the wherewithal to rope in legal representation – and they are virtually non-existent in this lot – will claim extenuating circumstances, and probably evade the slammer. Where does this lead us; to overcrowded court-houses and prisons, family disintegration and all sorts of nasty repercussions associated with breaking the Law. The funds that have to be used to build roads, schools, hospitals, clinics and a whole list of valuable and essential infrastructure is used to satisfy our insatiable appetite for solving problems with legislation, and locking our people up.
Besides this insatiable appetite for putting our people behind bars, we lack the rationale to distinguish between laws that punish the citizens and those that regulate and protect the citizens. Mature democracies go all out to promulgate laws that effectively and efficiently protect and regulate their citizens. Why can we not? We cannot because we do not take our people seriously. Otherwise why promulgate laws such as “shoot to kill”.
Kill who? Our very own people who vote for us. Our very own people who are forced by circumstances to break the law, knowingly or otherwise, they still do not have a choice; they just need to survive. Survive as their ancestors survived by killing, not poaching, the animals they live with and amongst, and they do this discriminately because they appreciate that the animals need to procreate so that they maintain their (the people’s) survival.
Here is a truly strange one, that sure flies in the face of logic; we encourage people to drink lots of water and then prevent them, by law, from passing the excess off, fully knowing that we have not provided facilities for getting rid of the excess. How immature! Everyone knows it is bad, and wrong, to pass off excess water anywhere one wishes to, but, in the absence of the requisite infrastructure, what does one do when nature calls? And I mean really calls? You see, it is a conundrum, and it requires mature reasoning and respect for the sanctity of life.
If we continue passing law after law in pursuit of the “HOW” to punish those who break the law, we will certainly end up with a situation where the citizenry does not respect the law. We will certainly end up with a situation where even the law enforcement cadre do not know which or what law to use against the people.
This might effectively bring about law breaking and corruption amongst the enforcers, who represent the Government, and, Justice Louis D Brandeis, US Supreme Court Justice this to say about this kind of situation; “Our Government is the potent, the omnipotent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches people by example…if the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become law unto himself”.
If you have read an article carried in the Sunday Standard of March 3 – 9, 2019, titled “Police law-breaking almost cost two men their lives”, you will catch my drift. Yet again, we might end up with people or organisations creating their own laws, simply because there are so many laws which cause confusion among the people and the law enforcement officers themselves. Explain this; why is it that a certified copy of a National identity card (Omang) has to expire, and in three to six months for that matter, before the original card expires?
If this is a law, then, at best, it is stupid! Will this not encourage corruption? Come on, let us be serious! A poor old man hitch hikes all the way from Moletemane to Mmadinare to drop off land application forms and is told that his certified copy of “Omang” has expired! He has the original card in his pocket but it has not expired. The poor fellow is confused but is afraid to confront the not so friendly gate-keeper (sometimes application forms are handled by gate-keepers), so off he hungrily hitch hikes to Selebi-Phikwe Omang offices to be informed that his card has still got three or so more years before expiry. Confusion! Confusion! Confusion! I do not want to explain how this will lead to corruption; it’s all there for you to figure it out dear esteemed reader.
Very soon we might find ourselves not giving rides to our family members because someone might misinterpret the law as outlawing hitch-hiking. What is outlawed is getting paid for giving someone a ride, not giving the ride itself. Same as carrying “Omang”. There is no law prescribing the carrying of “Omang”. There is serious need to educate law enforcement officers, and the public at large, so that there is harmony amongst us.
We make laws and leave it to the people to figure them out. If one is unlucky not to know about the existence of some law, and they break the said law; you know what happens? “Ignorance of the law is not an excuse”. If this is the law, then it is cowardly. Not everyone can read. So putting the responsibility to know and interpret the law on people who cannot read, let alone access where the law is published, is downright cruel, and, at best, rude.
While we are busy making laws that punish our people, we very conveniently ignore cries from the people to pass other laws which will protect the people and the people’s interests. Why? The answer is simple! We ignore these cries, from our VOTERS, so that we may keep the voters in the dark and enjoy the fruits alone. How else does one start to explain the reason behind not promulgating a law on “Declaration of Assets and Liabilities”?
Well, I will start to explain by stating “so that the people may not know what we brought with us (assets or liabilities) when we acquired power (and we mostly bring liabilities) and therefore cannot prove we enriched ourselves whilst in power”. And then again, this law, as it has been argued in some quarters, will not be of “significant assistance unless accompanied by legislation on the right to information (Freedom of Information Act) and an appropriate Media Practitioners’ Act”.
Simple! How long have Media practitioners been harping to have the Legal Practitioners’ Act (LPA) repealed, or at the least reviewed? Ten or so years? That is a long time, and we have decided to turn a deaf ear to their cries. This is misplaced reasoning on our part. Should the law not address issues of equality, fairness and justice? What then happens to the equality, fairness and justice, which the law has to concern itself with? We are imperilled by statements such as, “why fix it if it not broken”.
That is an American way of thinking and I struggle to figure out “why America? when we are still a developing country, without laws that genuinely protect the interests of the ordinary masses”. We are custodians of this information, on behalf of the people, why then do we deny them that which we hold on their behalf. Baffling, is it not?
You see, we are all a people, governed by a people and I want to believe, for us (the people). So I just do not understand why a people governed by a people for the people, should want to disagree on what the people feel is right for them. Because, whatever is right for the people, has to be right for the law maker, unless the law maker does not live the life of the ordinary people.
For you, esteemed reader, to catch my drift, you have to belong with the masses. You have to live with the ordinary people, and experience their hardships brought about by overly retrogressive legislation. I live amongst a people who do not understand the law, and yet are supposed to respect it and engage with it. I live amongst a people who do not know that it is an offence to kill another human being. To them, their law is the law of the jungle – “eat or be eaten”.
So, to subject these people to the rigors of the modern law and not educate them on it is an injustice. I want to believe the majority of the people who inhabit prisons know absolutely nothing about the law, or if they do, they think it is for those who passed the laws. “Melao yeo ke ya bone” is the usual rhetoric amongst these people. If you do not understand me, come with me to the cattle-post, spend the weekend with them, and you will understand.
“From where I stand, you are no longer the break of day. You are no longer the silver light that shines in the evening. I can hardly feel my heart even though you hold me in your arms, and I hope you stay far from where I stand. Look at me … tell me what you see. Do you understand what your laws have done to me? You no longer sweep my heart away. You no longer hold me close beside you and help me find my way. It is no longer clear if you are the only for me. At least if you could see that it is written in my eyes how much I love you, my beloved Botswana”.
Much as he was not focussing on what this article is about, Iqbal Ibrahim (Understanding Islam) mirrors my thoughts in the Weekend Post of 02 – 08, March, 2019, when he writes; “We go through our daily lives with tests and challenges – sometimes we get so overwhelmed by them that we ask “why me”? When these things happen, our patience is tested and some people go into depression, lose faith and hope and even go as far as getting into a state of limbo because we lose rationality.
When the future looks bleak, we must remember the saying; “every cloud has a silver lining”. The cloud is the deteriorating state of affairs in our country and the silver lining is HE MEK Masisi. Even as they lambast and harangue you, I have HOPE! Do not lose sight of where you want to take our country. I want to sing Dobbie Gray’s song the way he sang it, once again, not in the bastardised fashion as in the previous paragraph, and I have faith you will finally make that possible; AGAIN.
May God bless this, the Republic of Botswana. PULA!!! Maxwell Mothapelaruri Moathudi writes from Selebi-Phikwe
The month of June marks a time of celebration and reflection for the LGBTQ+ community and allies. LGBTQ+ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning. These terms are used to describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
This year, LGBTQ+ allies and corporate companies joined in the celebration and developed new initiatives to support the vulnerable group. On the 1st of June 2021, Botswana’s diamond mining company, Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB), launched a new project dubbed the Real You Network.
This is a platform that creates a safe, inclusive, supportive and welcoming workplace for LGBTQ+ employees to allow them to bring their whole selves to work every day and work to their full potential.
The company stresses and prides its self in coming up with projects that make it the best place for people to thrive in their truest selves, something that is in their inclusion and diversity calendar.
When speaking during the virtual launch of Real You Network, DTCB Senior Human Resources Manager, Stella Moetse said “we will reach success when the talent that we have here in the glass house represents all the different people we have in our society, especially the minorities; and these are people living with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ and not only having them, but in positions of influence and decision making. This will be the true measure of inclusion.”
In September 2017, De beers announced a three-year partnership with United Nations Women; an arm of the United Nations dedicated to Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls.
As part of this partnership, the group committed to taking a holistic and long term approach to promoting gender equality within the business and communities. DTCB says, the commitment in its group has gone beyond gender to create an inclusive workplace for all.
“Because of this commitment to promote and support an inclusive workplace, DTCB which is part of the De Beers group resolved to be inclusive in its approach. As a result, we have elevated inclusion and diversity to Board level reporting. We promote awareness through training our employees on identified inclusion and diversity topics such as anti-bullying and harassment, unconscious bias and inclusive hiring.”
Moetse applauded and appreciated the role that advocacy groups for LGBTQ+ play in pursuit of their rights in society, indicating that it is not an easy task for them to given societal orientations. “It is commendable however, how they are constantly challenging us to break down any preconceptions, removing structural and societal barriers and biases.”
Technical Services Senior Manager, Prudence Mabua, shared the same sentiments, saying that LGBTQ+ persons face obstacles when it comes to accessing many of their rights, including their right to social protection.
The Real You Network, will allow for an environment of openness and promote a culture of a fully inclusive network open to all colleagues regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, she said.
“Through events such as this one, our vision is to continue creating platforms that allow for employees and individuals to share lived experiences as this is key in increasing understanding, tolerance and acceptance,” Mabua highlighted.
“There is significant ignorance and resistance to the reality of the existence of LGBTQ+ community in Botswana. While people may not have the intention to be homophobic, the language they use is often offensive. This increases the fear of coming out as people are scared of being subjected to judgement and discrimination.”
Uncovering the main objectives of the Real You Network, Mabua stressed that the platform will enable DTCB to be visible in its consciousness of LGBTQ+ matters and allegiance of the community, hold conversations to sensitize its workforce on LGBTQ+ inclusion and challenge policies and procedures as well as attracting and retaining qualified people of the LGBTQ+ community.
Further, the Network will focus on sustainability and accountability, by achieving continuity by treating inclusion and diversity as a culture not events. It will also focus on acceptance of diversity and ensuring zero discrimination culture within the organization.
Meanwhile, a study conducted in 2020 by Asher and Lyric indicates that most African countries still criminalize and stigmatize LGBTQ+ practices. These countries are anti-homosexuality and protection of LGBTQ+ person’s rights is minimal.
Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Maldives, Uganda, Iran, West Bank and Gaza, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, Yemen, UAE, Qatar, Jamaica, Oman, Malawi, Malaysia as well as Saudi Arabia and Nigeria are some of the countries of the world which criminalizes homosexuality. Nigeria is the only country in the world with cruel treatment of LGBTQ+ persons.
In Nigeria, homosexuality receives up to 14 years in prison, and at most times the death penalty. In some of these countries, discussions of LGBTQ+ rights and gender expression are criminalized, flogging can occur for cross dressing, and homosexual intercourse receives 6 months to 3 years in prison.
Pro-LGBTQ+ organizations are sometimes barred, imitating the opposite sex can result in prison time and buggery receives up to 10 years in prison and hard labour.
Nonetheless, there are other countries (mostly from the West) which promote and protect the LGBTQ+ community. These countries legalized same-sex marriages, protect the community against discrimination, criminalizes LGBTQ+ violence, implement transgender legal identity laws and are safe places for LGBTQ+ persons to live in.
These are: Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, Malta, Portugal, Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Uruguay, Norway, France, Iceland, Denmark, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Austria, Finland, Ireland and the United States.
Botswana once had a story love affair with the world’s biggest premium beauty pageant, Miss Universe. This was in 1999 when Botswana’s first representative at Miss Universe, Mpule Kwelagobe, effortlessly snatched the title.
It was every contestant’s beautiful dream to wear the crown, but winning at first entry was implausible if not magical. Kwelagobe made the country contented, and history was made. Taking a closure significant look at her performance at the Miss Universe held at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago, Kwelagobe battled it out on and off stage with 84 contestants and showed them dust. She was in the Top 5 spot with South Africa, Venezuela, Philippines and Spain. There are countries which snatch the Miss Universe title every year.
Miss Universe 2019 was a South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi. Mpule Kwelagobe scorecard looked pretty remarkable. She scored 9.05 out of 10 on her interviews, 9.18 swimsuit, 9.36 evening gown, semi-final average 9.19 and 9.48 on the Top 5 question. These results were good enough to earn her the crown.
However, over the years (since the crowning of Mpule Kwelagobe), Botswana has been fading away from participating at the Miss Universe. Between 2002 and 2003, the country did not participate in Miss Universe but in 2004, the country sent a winning title of Miss Universe Botswana to Ecuador, Miss Universe 2004.
In 2010, Mos Syde Worldwide Entertainment Group: an international entertainment and fashion company domiciled in Botswana took over the Miss Universe Botswana pageant after a six-year absence. Tirelo Ramasedi was crowned Miss Universe Botswana 2010, and represented the country in Las Vegas on August 23. As it is right now, Ramasedi is the only former Miss Universe queen still keen in having her name shine out there: she works closely on projects aimed at empowering women and young girls.
Sadly so, 2013 was the last time Botswana participated in Miss Universe. After five years of not participating at Miss Universe pageant, the first Miss Universe Botswana Mpule Kwelagobe took over the franchise. The winner selection of Miss Universe Botswana 2019 was to remark Botswana to Miss Universe 2019, however, was cancelled.
2019 marked another possible six years since Botswana lacked participation in Miss Universe. This drastic zero participation in this premium beauty competition paved way for our neighbours South Africa to sail smoothly at the competition. Zozibini Tunzi became an instant global queen and everyone’s favourite after displaying intelligence, poise and taking up space to be crowned Miss Universe 2019.
The pageant was not held in 2020 due to COVID-19. This will be the third time in the history of the competition in which the event will be held after the calendar year has ended: this previously occurred during Miss Universe 2014 and Miss Universe 2016 (in which Botswana was not participating).
Miss Universe Organization announced early this year that the competition would be held on May 16 2021, at Seminole Hard rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, United States. Zozibini Tunzi will crown her successor at this competition.
Botswana, will not be participating at the Miss Universe 2020, again. The weakening Miss Universe Botswana has been attributed to by internal fights within the organization. But why participate at Miss Universe?
The Miss Universe Organization is a global, inclusive organization that celebrates women of all cultures and backgrounds and empowers them to realize their goals through experiences that build self-confidence and create opportunities for success.
Women participate annually to affect positive change personally, professionally and philanthropically as inspirational leaders and role models. The delegates and titleholders that have participated in the MUO system are able to cultivate their personal, professional and philanthropic goals. These women are forward thinking and motivated not just talk about change, but to initiate it.
Prominent beauty pageants analyst in Botswana Morekolodi Smith took Weekendlife in an exclusive interview that it has been so many years of absence from participating at Miss Universe, and this shows that Botswana lacks consistency and commitment.
“The franchise holders fail to host a national pageant. I think they should hand over the license to Miss Botswana Organization because it hosts the pageant annually. Then the winner gets to participate in both Miss World and Miss Universe. They can maybe crown two representatives. Botswana has faded away from Miss Universe platform and fans have forgotten about it,” he said in an interview on Thursday.
Pranks, for a common man, is designated to the 1st of April- April fool’s day. Usually it’s the only day out of the entire 365 days one can make a fool of others and get away with practically anything, anything legal that is.
While there are fanatics who do it for amusement, there are some who do it to earn their daily bread and butter. Some obviously saw a niche to keep people fascinated especially in these emotionally straining times of COVID-19. For the record, they don’t play ordinary cards as you may think.
Their pranks are as big and as real as marriage wrecking and all the drama that comes along with it. Given Carter is not just your ordinary boy next door. The Tonota born prankster is currently taking the entire country on an emotional rollercoaster from the comfort of his home in Francistown.
At only 32-years, Carter BW’s skills of planning and executing a prank is what sets him apart from the rest. In fact one can go as far as to say that he’s the only prankster Batswana know.His ideas are unique and relevant, telling a tale that someone can sit and think about, perhaps learn from it because they are everyday life happenings that most people can relate to because they have a way of really hitting home.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, the versatile Given Carter (who is also a photographer) says the inspiration behind pranking was to introduce something not so common in Botswana, and challenge typecasts associated with art, especially modern art.
“Growing up, we only saw pranks on the television dominantly done by the whites. We never thought this is something we can do, or maybe we didn’t understand the logic behind it. But I guess, pranks are real life lessons we need, its only that they are shared in a more hilarious and sometimes obstinate way,” he said.
Given Carter told this publication that, he spends most of his time on the internet, learning more tricky skills. This is quite a remarkable observation because in this era of advanced technology, one doesn’t necessarily have to go to school to learn from the grassroot. The use of technology has made it easier for people to acquire skills and knowledge, and still do exceptionally well without being in class.
“Of course, a bit of it is common sense but I make use of the internet to learn more on how I can improve my craft. It is quite unpretentious to do a prank because they are real-life situations, so its not much of a big deal. I needed people to learn and I think I came at the right time because most people are online, and the reception is just incredible.”
He however shed light on his first video shot in Shakawe that went viral, subsequently leading to speculations of his crew’s arrest. Given Carter was however not arrested instead he was brought before the police for questioning.
“We were not arrested as people may think. We were called to write statements on what the prank was all about and we were released the same day. I believe maybe we went too far in what we depicted in the video because it’s something that the society is not yet ready to accept, but it has been happening for a long time,” he told WeekendLife.
In many Western countries, pranksters do this for a living through YouTube accounts and subscriptions. “As it is currently, I do not have a YouTube channel. I am still building a platform and I’m certain very soon it will be up and running. I am primarily focused on taking my craft to the people, and let people know more about what I do. So technically, it has been about familiarising people with the art.”
Even though that’s the case, Given Carter says there is room for paid partnerships and endorsements. After all, there is an entire crew which need money to pay the bills. He says with so much ideas spinning in his head, there is need for financial support to be able to dish out more seeing that people love his works and how realistic his pranks are.