Botswana government has been dragged before the High Court in Lobatse this week through an urgent application to withhold them against unlawful repatriation of Namibian refugees. According to court papers seen by Weekend Post, the refugees have requested for intervention before court to order government not to release the refugees from Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants and transport them back to Dukwi refugee camp.
They want the court to interdict government from deporting the refugees to Namibia/Caprivi Strip pending determination of the application. They also want an order declaration cessation of the 709 applicants’ refugee status as substantively unfair to the extent that same is unlawful. The refugees also request court to: “an order interdicting or restraining the government or anyone acting on their behalf from continuing with the repatriation of the refugees up until the reasons for their fleeing have no longer exist.”
Court papers indicate that the repatriation was scheduled on or before 11 July 2018 and now the fate of the refugees remains in the hands of High Court matter which is presided over by Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa. The case involves the government through the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security; Chairperson of the Refugees Advisory Committee; Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, and Officer in charge at Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants as well as Dukwi Refugee Camp Settlement Commandant Fortunate Majingo.
In his founding affidavit, Tyson Mujela, a Namibian refugee who doubles as 709 refugees’ spokesperson stated that the Botswana government is not cooperating with them at all despite the obligation. “It is clear that the government of Botswana does not want to play ball by responding to our attorney’s correspondences and by further proceeding with preparations for the repatriations which are constituted by such actions as releasing our children from schools and further deploying Special Forces to control patrols at the settlement camp,” the refugee pointed out in court papers.
He also raised the red flag that their movement is also heavily restricted movement both in and outside the camp. “Seeing that the government of Botswana intends to further its objective which is to repatriate Namibian refugees without having satisfied itself that the fear of persecution detailed above no longer exist and failing attempts to conduct a dialogue either in person and also by correspondence when the deadline, 11 July 2018, is fast approaching we had no other option but to take legal route.”
The refugees’ spokesperson highlighted that they have always been desirous to amicably solve the bottleneck between them and government of Botswana and that is why they had thought it necessary that they dialogue around the issue before they could take the legal route which was the last option. However Mujela pointed out that government failed to prepare a report in order to advice the minister of the reason why they should or should not be repatriated to Namibia.
He explained: “as the matter stands we are still recognized as refugees under the Act and therefore worthy of protection by law until proven otherwise.” As far as we are aware, the Namibian refugee said the reason for their fleeing to Botswana in the first place still exists and that the responsible minister have not said or done anything to gainsay this assertion.
The refugee also added that for Botswana government there is absolutely no prejudice to be suffered by them if a deportation or repatriation is stayed and the process is ordered to start afresh in an open transparent way. “In any event, we aver that having stayed in the country since 1998 there is nothing material urgent to warrant our deportation or repatriation,” he said.
Meanwhile it is understood that the government of Botswana continues with preparations for repatriations including discontinuing the refugees’ children from schooling at Nata Senior Secondary School. “There is high likelihood that the repatriations will take place on or before the 11th of July 2018 as scheduled. The government of Botswana has not made attempts to address our cries as the refugees,” the Namibian refugee said in the court papers.
Meanwhile, the 1951 Refugee Convention which was ratified by 145 State parties, defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them. The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom and this is now considered a rule of customary international law.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with the organ in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected. In the marathon case that may continue to put Botswana on the spotlight in how he relates to her refugees Dimpho Ramarumo and Martin Dingake of Dingake Law Partners represents the refugees while the government is represented by the Attorney General.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.