The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane has reaffirmed the Botswana Government’s position that it does not recognise any specific ethnic group as indigenous to the country. The Government maintains that all citizens of Botswana are indigenous regardless of their tribes or ethnic groups.
Minister Tsogwane reiterated Government’s position when addressing the 16th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) last week in New York in the United States. The Forum was held under the theme “Tenth Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Indigenous Peoples: Measures taken to implement the Declaration.” Botswana is one of the countries that voted in favour of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 when the declaration was adopted by the General Assembly. The declaration was informed by a study on the discrimination faced by the indigenous peoples throughout world.
The declaration is described at the most comprehensive international instrument that establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for survival, dignity, the well-being and the rights of the indigenous peoples of the world. A statement from the ministry says that the minister noted in his remarks that Botswana supports the UNDRIP even though she does not subscribe to the concept of labelling any particular tribe or ethnic group as “Indigenous Peoples.”
The statement further says that Tsogwane affirmed that all Batswana are equal before the law and that the country is against all forms of discrimination, including on the basis of colour, race, ethnicity, religion, gender or social status. In this regard, the Government is not comfortable with singling out any particular tribe or ethnic group as “Indigenous Peoples” to Botswana. The statement says the minister further indicated that Botswana recognises that some members of the population in several communities spread across the country are disadvantaged and marginalised, hence they deserve special attention.
“To this end, the Government of Botswana has developed policies and programmes tailored towards the needs of Remote Area Communities, covering areas such as land allocation, education and economic empowerment,” the statement reads. Indigenous people are defined in international or national legislation as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, and their cultural or historical distinctiveness from other sectors of the society that are dominant.
By this definition, it is given that Botswana do have indigenous people even though Government chooses a safer approach of saying all tribes and ethnic groups in the country are indigenous. The Khoisan known as Basarwa in Botswana, are regarded as the indigenous people in some of parts of the country like the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The san are also regarded indigenous peoples in a number of Southern African countries.
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.