Botswana Defence Force has explained why former President and former Commander Lt. Gen Ian Khama was not invited to the commemoration of the Fallen Heroes held at the Three Chiefs Monument earlier this week.
In an enquiry by WeekendPost the Director of Protocol and Public Affairs, Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Colonel Tebo Dikole confirmed that they were aware that the Former President was not invited. He established that attendance of BDF events by Former Commanders are strictly by invitation. Dikole explained that Khama’s designation as ‘Former President’ precedes that of Former Commander hence the reason he did not receive an invitation by the BDF despite having invited all Former Commanders to the ceremony.
“Yes, Former Commanders were invited to the Fallen Heroes Commemoration albeit Former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama was not invited as his designation “Former President” precedes that of a Former Commander,” Dikole said. Dikole said it is worth noting that since the inception of the Fallen Heroes Commemoration in 2011 it is worth noting that since the inception of the Fallen Heroes Commemoration in 2011 when it was dubbed Lesoma Commemoration to date, no Former Presidents have been invited to attend the ceremony.
Precedent has been set where the invite is extended to the current President and his Vice President as was the case on the 27th February 2019. He however indicated that in the past they have had serving Presidents attending with their Vice Presidents (Former President Lt Gen Dr SKI Khama and the late Former Vice President Lt Gen MS Merafhe, Former President Lt Gen Dr SKI Khama and Former Vice President Dr PHK Kedikilwe, Former President Lt Gen Dr SKI Khama and Former Vice President MEK Masisi), and in 2019 His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi and His Honor the Vice President Slumber Tsogwane were in attendance as it has been the norm.
Khama’s snubbing has polarised the public with some questioning why former president was not invited yet he was the Commander of BDF at some point and that most Fallen Heroes died under his tenure. Khama served as BDF commander from 1989 until his retirement in 1998 to take up a role in politics.
Dikole explained that it is not the discretion of the BDF to control who lays a wreath or pays tribute to its heroes and heroines who are laid to rest in various towns and villages of this country including extension 14 cemetery therefore what Khama did was not erroneous. “Please note that the 14 members who are laid to rest at Extension 14 cemetery perished in 1978 during Former Vice President Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe's tenure as the Commander of the BDF while at the time Former President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama was his Deputy.”
After receiving the invitation Khama, accompanied by Botswana Democratic (BDP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Nata-Gweta constituency, Polson Majaga, laid a wreath at the Extension 14 cemetery in Gaborone. Masisi had already laid a wreath at the Three Chiefs Monument earlier that day. Speaking to this publication Khama seemed to be surprised as to why he did not receive an invitation from the BDF, stressing that as former commander he had expected to be invited.
“I was not invited, I do not understand why I was not invited because as Former Commander of the BDF it is within my right,” Khama said. Khama, however said not being invited could not stop him from commemorating the “Fallen Heroes” as this is what he usually does every year. “I am doing this because not being invited should not stop me from commemorating the Fallen Heroes. It is what I do yearly and will continue doing,” he concluded.
This event which was known then as Lesoma Commemoration Day was first commemorated in 2011 at the Extension 14 cemetery where the remains of the fifteen (15) deceased members of the BDF lie entombed. After careful introspection it was changed to Fallen Heroes so as to include other members of the BDF who passed on in the line of duty.
While in Gaborone this commemoration takes place here at the Three (3) Dikgosi monument, other commemorations are also being observed today at Thebephatswa Air Base, Francistown Donga Camp, Lesoma Village and Eastern Military Garrison in Selibe Phikwe to recognize the fallen heroes in different parts of this country.
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.
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.
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.