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.
Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.
“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).
Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.
A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.
The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”
A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.
The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.
This has since been denied by the Ministry. In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.” Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”
The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term. “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja. He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”
Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation. Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.
It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.
Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.
A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.
The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.” According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.
“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.
Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions. It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.
“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.
Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.
Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.
According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.” Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.
It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from. “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.
Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems. It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation. Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.
It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.
“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions. Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.
“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions. Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”