Many married couples in Botswana are continuously opting for divorce and the number is increasing annually – records from High Court of Botswana indicate.
The statistics paint a dire picture of the current status of divorce in the country. Weekend Post has established that as the marriages increases, the divorce rate also shoots up as far as registered cases at the High Court are concerned. According to the statistics, just this year 2017 to date, 893 divorce cases have already been registered with the High Court. In this number 237 cases have been completed and 656 are still pending. Before the year, in 2016, a soaring number of 1316 cases were recorded still at the High court while 604 have been completed and 712 are still pending.
The numbers have increased from 2015 in which 1190 were registered, which was also an increase from 1088 in 2014. According to the official statistics, since 2013 to date, a whopping 5648 cases were registered for divorce and the number is expected to puff up. More statistics point out that divorce rate in Botswana has been increasing over the years registering 56% in 2008 while 2009 was 60% whereas in 2010 the rate was 70% and it has been relatively and steadily increasing since then.
Earlier this year, in February, at the official opening of the legal year in Gaborone, Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo noted that as per court statistics, cases registered in 2016 were very high as compared to cases recorded prior in 2012. According to the Chief Justice, the statistics show that people no longer respect marriage and that the marital vows are no longer sacred as they used to be in the past. “I am constrained, as I have done in the 2011 and 2013 Legal Year Addresses, to express concern regarding the high divorce rate for a small population as ours. My interactions also reveal that my concerns are not misplaced as they are similarly shared out there,” the Chief Justice pointed out then.
He added that though there is no magic wand to this matter, suffice to state, that as a nation we must arrest the situation by utilising the time tested restorative interventions and the traditional extended family system to keep the marriage and family set-up intact. Dibotelo also told the gathering at the legal year that Psychologists say children are the most affected by the escalating divorce rates. He also observed that, anyone, irrespective of their station in life, may find themselves having to evoke the provisions of the Matrimonial Causes Act, CAP 29:06 seeking for a divorce.
Research turned up indicates that in our legal system in Botswana, an applicant can divorce on one of the four grounds provided by the relevant Act. Adultery; Unreasonable behaviour; Desertion for a period exceeding 2 years; and Living apart for a continuous period of more than 2 years and with the other party consenting to the divorce are said to be some of the grounds for divorce at court. Weekend Post has established that the escalating divorce cases have been relatively correlating with the increasing number of marriages over the years.
According to Statistics Botswana data from the Department of Civil and National Registration (CNR), trends in Marriages between 2005 and 2014, the number of marriages registered was on an increase. “Marriages increased drastically from 4,601 in 2011 to 5,214 in 2012 and continued to steadily increase to 5,591 in 2014,” the statistics indicate. The trend only shows a downward spiral during the period 2009 to 2011 which incidentally was the period when the world was experiencing an economic downturn.
The statistics report also shows that the highest proportion of marriages was registered in Gaborone, which accounted for about 12 percent of all marriages. It was closely followed by Kweneng East, and then Ngwaketse South. Ngamiland West registered the least number of marriages constituting 0.1 percent of all marriages. It indicates that the proportions of males and females marrying differ across different occupations. In 2014, the highest proportion (15.8 percent) of males marrying fell within the category of legislators, administrators and managers. Marriage for females was highest (34.6 percent) for those who were not employed.
The crude marriage rate gives the number of persons marrying within a specified time period per 1,000 population of all ages. The report shows that the crude marriage rate for Botswana is steadily increasing from 4.54 in 2011 to 5.45 marriages per 1,000 population in 2014. The crude marriage rate was highest in 2007 and 2008 with around 6 per 1,000 population. The report at the marriage section includes time series table of marriages that occurred from 2005 to 2014. It also includes tables on age at marriage, previous marital status, profession of both the groom and bride and the district of marriage.
According to a renowned Social Worker lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB), Kgomotso Jongman, some people get into marriage for the wrong reasons, and that’s is why the divorce rates are escalating at the alarming rate. He told Weekend Post that some people are enthralled by a wedding day as opposed to marriage or life after the wedding day, and this mostly spells doom for the future of them in marriage as it may lead to divorce. “We need to understand more about marriage and wedding. I have observed that in some instances people get fascinated by a mere wedding day as opposed to a marriage. So they eventually cannot cope. For them it is all about the white dress, exclusive rings and their friends admiring at them,” Jongman said.
The academic added that there is also a societal pressure from all corners including from work coallegues, from church, relatives and the community, people on social media all wanting you to get married. They may say that you are getting old and you need to get married, he observed. So the problem, the marriage Counsellor said is that people are not marrying because they are ready but rather want to fulfill the societal pressure. The Social worker at the highest institution of learning also pointed out that the world we live in is more “materialistic” and so the people are marrying for materials.
“People nowadays want partners with lots of resources so that they may divorce them later so as to benefit handsomely out of the deal. They are attracted to materials. Sometimes they stick around with their partners for 2 years and seek divorce then court grant them divorce,” he highlighted. The pre-marital, marital and post marital Counselor, through his observation and interaction with the married, said some get hitched at an early age when their maturity is wanting. For example Jongman said he has witnessed some tertiary students getting married and later divorcing when the going gets tough.
“In terms of the students for instance, issues of unemployment contributes, as they want security. After they graduate and after finding a job for themselves sometimes they opt out.” Husband, he explained that only have control while the young woman is not yet working, and after they find work they do as they please. This leads to insecurity and abuse, and then they later withdraw from home followed by divorce, he said. The Social Worker said divorce has awful implications particularly for children.
“When parents divorce, it’s dire for children. They never involve children, or want to know their emotions on the matter. Next thing they say children should choose which parent to go stay with and I wonder how do we expect children to choose between their parents?” he wondered. The professional marriage Counselor hinted that following a divorce, the children’s emotions then become unstable and depressed and others eventually commit suicide feeling that they may have contributed to their parents’ divorce.
On the divorcing parties and for the mere fact that they invested feelings – divorce is emotionally draining and also leaves couples financially exhausted. “To re-adjust to life without the other partner takes time. Others jump into the next relationship prematurely while others would not want to get in a relationship anymore.” The society on the other hand discriminate divorcees and look at them as failures.
Botswana’s efforts to accelerate key economic reforms got a boost following the approval of a $250 million loan by the World Bank today. The Programmatic Economic Resilience and Green Recovery Development Policy Loan (DPL) will support the implementation of Botswana’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan and is designed to strengthen COVID-19 pandemic relief while bolstering resilience to future shocks.
This DPL is also designed to support reforms to strengthen private sector development and promote green recovery. It is the first-ever World Bank budget support operation for Botswana and the first of two planned operations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a great burden on the country’s economy, its people, and firms. With this operation, the World Bank will support the government’s reforms to ensure social spending reaches the poorest and assists Batswana who are most affected by the Covid-19,” says World Bank Country Director for Eswatini, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly.
“This operation will also support reforms to attract private sector investments, contribute to diversification of exports, and increase job opportunities towards a green economy”. The operation provides both financial and technical support for government reforms to implement a Single Social Registry and to improve targeting of social spending on the most vulnerable while strengthening systems for future shocks.
It will also help strengthen the business environment for increased SME-led job creation and economic diversification through improved access to finance for individuals and small and micro enterprises (SMEs). Furthermore, the program will help Botswana to build the foundations for sustainable, “green” growth by supporting reforms to increase production of renewable energy by independent power producers, promoting and regulating rooftop solar energy generation, and embedding climate change considerations in environmental assessments.
DPLs are used by the World Bank to support a country’s policy and institutional reform agenda to help accelerate inclusive growth and poverty reduction. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a real gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 7.9 percent in Botswana in 2020 – the largest in the country’s history.
This has also led to a depletion of existing fiscal buffers and has constrained revenue collection, reduced Government’s capacity and resources needed to accelerate the implementation of structural reforms and threatened to reverse progress in poverty reduction.
World Bank Group COVID-19 Response Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has committed over $125 billion to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history.
The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery. The Bank is also providing $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments.
University of Botswana Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, has lost support of the university staff, with four unions joining forces to demand his removal from office.
When he was appointed Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana in December 2017, by the then Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Alfred Madigele, Professor Norris was hailed as an angel sent from heaven.
Professor Norris succeeded Professor Thabo Fako, after the latter led the University during turbulent times — with the university experiencing financial challenges and dwindling enrolment numbers.
Four years down the line, Professor Norris’ presence at the University nauseates many. Academic staff together with manual workers want Norris shown the door as soon as yesterday.
University of Botswana Academic Senior Support Staff Union, (UBASSSU), University of Botswana Staff Union (UBSU) and University of Botswana Manual Workers Union, in a petition submitted to Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Douglas Letsholathebe, called for the dismissal of Norris. The unions said that under the leadership of the Professor, UB staff members suffered immeasurable pain, agony and frustration, and their welfare is entirely overlooked.
The unions petition Professor Norris on a number of issues: blurred roadmap, inflationary adjustments of salaries, security services, corporate governance, teaching and learning resources, deteriorating infrastructure, staff victimization as well as appointment of staff undemocratically.
In their entreaty, staff members say that Vice Chancellor has failed to provide a clear roadmap to guide a wide range of operations within the University. Prior to Norris’ arrival, they say, UB had developed a strategy using its own scholars, led by Prof Thapisa and Prof Moahi respectively.
“They executed the assignment efficiently with intricate insider knowledge of the institution and a global academic outlook. The result of the process was later subjected to external review by consultants, even though the process was later abandoned at huge cost to the University. The Vice Chancellor is three years into this post, but he has done nothing to show, and always blames staff or his predecessors for the problems at UB,” the unions said in their petition.
The petition signed by UBASSSU President, Motsomi Marobela, acting on behalf of Manual Workers Union President, Oneile Mpulubusi and Ghadzani Mhotsha (Staff Union President), argue that Norris relishes grand standing and cheap rhetoric to project a positive image of the University to outsiders while the institution faces monumental challenges.
“Even the so-called new strategy was imposed on the staff, since unions were never consulted. Staff in faculties were threatened and bullied into submission whenever they revealed flaws in the strategy. In short, this strategy lacks the critical ‘buy in’ from those charged with implementation, something which is crucial for any new strategy to succeed.”
Professor Norris, a renowned scholar, has been fingered in being reluctant to advance staff salaries, something which has been done four years ago. Unions claim that despite several shots to alter this status quo, efforts proved vain.
“The Vice Chancellor has dismally failed to bring about any meaningful action to ascertain that staff remunerations are adjusted to mitigate the effects of inflation, despite his attention being drawn to the erosion of the buying power of University staff. UB staff salaries have not been adjusted for a duration of four years, despite numerous attempts by the trade unions (UBASSSU, UBSU and Manual Workers Union) to appeal on behalf of the constituents for his intervention,” reads part of the petition.
University management are said to be relaxed when it comes to the security of the organization, petitioners claim. They stress that this has happened several times in recent years whereby management has allowed private security contracts, which augment the in-house UB security, to lapse before they can float a new tender.
The loan schemes that the University gets into on behalf of employees, is said to be another dare giving staff workers grief, perpetuated by Vice Chancellor Norris.
“It has happened several times that the contract between the financiers and the University lapses before anything is put in place for employees to continue getting financial assistance. Quite recently, it was communicated by a memo from Staff Welfare and Benefits Office that the loan scheme with FNB is coming to an end on the 30th April 2021 and this communication was made on the 29th, just a day before the end of such contract. This again shows lack of proactiveness on the part of management which is led by the VC,” said the petition.
The Vice Chancellor is said to be overreaching in UB administrative structures. Professor Norris, who chairs the Staff Appointment and Promotion Committee (SAPC), hosts illegal Pre-SAPC meetings, which are usually attended by Human Resources and Executive Management, and make decisions on who to appoint, promote or whose contract to renew before the substantive meeting of SAPC.
The Vice Chancellor, disgruntled petitioners say, uses SAPC to rubber stamp the executive decision – this amounts to corruption. “Three years in the institution he has virtually run the university alone. The core and critical Deputy Vice Chancellor posts of Academic Affairs; Finance and Administration; and Student Affairs, have not been filled. Instead he has appointed people on acting positions and he is shuffling them around as he pleases. Those he prefers have been acting for over two years, which is contrary to the Employment Act.”
Professor Norris is a researcher and lecturer, having served in different capacities in Botswana, the United States of America and South Africa.
Prior to joining UB, he was Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BUIST), a position he held since 2016. He is the sixth Vice Chancellor of UB.
Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has announced the return of the Youth Development Fund (YDF), after it was put on suspension by Government last year.
The fund however, has been slashed from P120 million to P104 million with the total number of projects expected to shrink. The YDF programme was temporarily suspended last year due to shortage of funds.
The programme introduced in 2009 by government, was a way of improving the lives of the youth as well as helping to fight unemployment.
When addressing the media, Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare said the ministry has resolved to start receiving applications for 2021/2022 Youth Development Fund from 09 June 2021 to 10 August 2021.
Rakgare said government was worried about the high numbers of unemployment hence the resolve to restart the YDF programme even in the midst of the pandemic.
He however revealed that due to budget challenges and the continued restrictive environment imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, there would be some modifications to the implementation of YDF.
“Due to budget challenges the allocation for the fund in the current financial year has been reduced from P120 million to P104 million. Constituencies will thus be allocated less than the usual P2 million, which means that the number of funded projects will be significantly reduced,” he said.
He further said priority for funding shall be for businesses with the potential to create a higher number of jobs and those that address key government priorities.
The sectors to be prioritized include; Manufacturing, Agriculture, Tourism, Technology, Digitization and Innovation. Moreover, the threshold for YDF financing remains at P100 000.00 for individuals and P450 000.00 for youth industries or co-operatives.
In addition to funding youth projects, the Minister said P14, 393,066.77 will be reserved for completion and implementation of Special Projects such as development of Land-banks, mentorship partnerships and trainings.
All changes to the YDF programme are to apply only for this year while a comprehensive review is undertaken. The target is to have the revised programme implemented in the next financial year.