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.
Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).
Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model. BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.
“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.
Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.
Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board. However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.
He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.
“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).
“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.
“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.
Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.
“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.
“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.
WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs. High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.
The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.
“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.
As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.
“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.
Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.
“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.
The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.
“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.
BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.
“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.
Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.
In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.
“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.
The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.
“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”