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.
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.