The LBGTI community which thronged the Gaborone High court on Thursday to hear a landmark case challenging the constitutionality of government’s criminalizing of same sex coitus was left confused as their case did not have a judge.
The case was filed before former Lobatse High Court Judge Justice Michael Leburu who was recently transferred to Gaborone High Court. According to information reaching this publication, Justice Leburu was supposed to leave to Gaborone with part-heard matters and it was decided that the same sex case was not one of them.
On Thursday the human rights advocacy group, Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) which has been admitted as amicus curiae (“a friend of the court”) came to the high court not knowing that their case was not transferred to Gaborone but remains in Lobatse as it is considered as a fresh matter yet to be sat down for argument. The Lesbians, Bisexuals, Gays, Transgender and Intersex community left the Gaborone High Court disappointed and confused by the happenings.
In an interview with WeekendPost on Thursday LEGABIBO lawyer Tshiamo Rantao said he only heard on Wednesday that Justice Leburu would not bring the case with him to Gaborone. To his knowledge, the case was transferred to Gaborone chambers. “For now I do not know who the judge is or will be. I also do not know when the case will be heard. The case has never been sat down for judgment… but I honestly believe this is not a fresh matter before Justice Leburu as it was part-heard by the same judge during the admission of LEGABIBO case which we won. The case was considered during the admission of LEGABIBO case, so it is not a fresh matter but was part-heard,” said Rantao.
Registrar of the Lobatse High Court is yet to decide the date of the case. In the case, which challenges the constitutionality of sections 164(a), 164(c) and 165 of the Botswana Penal Code, LEGABIBO is represented and supported by Tshiamo Rantao and the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC). LEGABIBO believes the criminalization of same-sex sexual acts perpetrate stigma, intolerance, homophobia and violence against the LGBT. On the other hand government is out to defend the constitutionality of the same-sex act law and court papers seen by this publication indicate that the state has come all out and engaged experts in matters of homosexuality.
In his writings about same sex relationships published on African Human Rights Law Journal in 2004, former University of Botswana Dr Emmanuel Kwabena Quansah believes the wind of change blowing through kindred liberal democracies for the decriminalization of homosexual practices will take some time to reach Botswana. He is of the view that the future recognition of same-sex relationships, one may conclude, lies mainly in the hands of those who wish to engage in this type of relationship.
“Despite the many obstacles faced by and prejudices shown against them by society, they must stand up and be counted in order to influence a shift in public opinion, leading to legislative and constitutional changes in the status quo. Their heterosexual compatriots are not likely to do it for them,” said Dr Quansah.
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.