Newly appointed Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Bogolo Kenewendo has promised to dedicate her energies towards improving the state of young people and women during her tenure in parliament.
Kenewendo who was sworn in last week became one of the rarefied women to grace the legislative house since independence. On the back of the recently released ‘The Global Gender Gap Index’ report, which ranks Botswana 126th in the world in women political empowerment, Kenewendo has vowed to use available platforms in parliament to advocate for wider participation of women in leadership positions.
“It is true we’re faring badly in that respect,” she nodded. “Women need to be capacitated to be able to participate in elections, in respect to building their confidence, in public speaking and helping them to be more assertive,” she told Weekend Post in an exclusive interview. “Papers have been written before about women participation in elections and representation in parliament, and women who came before me such as Mma Nasha and Mma-Tshireletso have made contributions with regard to women empowerment. There is nothing much to talk about, I can only continue working on the foundation they have laid.”
Kenewendo, who is the founder of Molaya Kgosi, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at providing mentorship to women in leadership, said she wishes Botswana could have many women who are as resilient as the likes of Margaret Nasha, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Botlogile Tshireletso. “Women also have to stand their ground and make their presence felt. Because it is not all about being empowered, it is also about you bringing yourself forward. The same thing applies to youth,” she said.
Nasha served as cabinet minister from 1994-2009 and was later appointed first female Speaker of the National Assembly. Venson-Moitoi is currently the longest serving member of parliament alongside Slumber Tsogwane. The two were first elected in 1999, the former entering through the Specially Elected dispensation.
Meanwhile Tshireletso is considered the “Iron Lady” of Botswana politics having surged through BDP ranks to the top. Kenewendo has observed that many youth have managed to make significant breakthroughs at local government level; something which she said should also be translated into parliament seats.
The 29 year-old former Econsult economist said she will use the women caucus as conduit to motivate reforms which will empower women in various leadership positions, not only in politics but other areas as well. Kenewendo has also noted government’s not being responsive enough to meet the needs of the young people and its reluctance to embrace their ideas.
“Youth are driven by innovation, want things to be done in a swift manner, a business environment which is generally favourable,” she observed. “We need to support them, even in ideas which we don’t understand. We must avail subsidised funding, and enable them to flourish.”
Kenewendo who is a firm believer in the youth had in the preceding day told parliament in her maiden speech to the house that “young people are smart, driven and resilient, and are all looking for an opportunity to rise up.” This was contrary to Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Biggie Butale’s opinion of the young people in his earlier contribution.
The newly appointed Assistant Minister had torn the youth apart, saying their failures were mostly driven by lack of hunger to succeed and laziness. Kenewendo said the NDP 11 should carry the ideals and aspirations of the young people, because at the end of the 2036 vision, 20 years from now, the plan should show how it impacted the lives of the youth of today.
“We should not just look at today, we should also look at their future because someone who is 20 years today would be 40 years at the end of Vision 2036,” she said. “During that period, the plan should show how is going to impact on the lives of the young people.” “Like I said in parliament during my contribution, businesses and investors do not care that we are a landlocked country, they are looking for a place where they can easily do business hassle free and reap the best rewards,” she said.
Kenewendo has observed that Botswana lacks agility and is moving at a snail pace, hence other countries such as Rwanda are able to perform better. “Some of them came here to benchmark in Botswana, then went back to implement because they have agility. The world is moving faster, so we need to be agile.”
She said even global markets have opened up, and there is a need to take advantage of that. While there is a general belief that think tanks and maverick individuals such as Kenewendo do not have a place in the current BDP set-up, Kenewendo has promised not to subscribe to such thinking.
“I was asked about the issue of ending up being politically suffocated on Radio this week, and I said I will not be suffocated. First of all, I have a strong foundation, my positions on various issues have been well documented in various publications, and such positions will not change,” she said. “I have been in different forums including a background in consultancy and my support structure will not allow me to fall.”
Kenewendo has conceded that she took a substantial pay cut to the legislature, something which she said should not be “a big deal”. She was however cagey on sharing her political ambitions, “I am here to serve as specially elected MP, that is it for now, but if you had asked me few years ago, or two months ago if I wanted to join politics, I would have not told you.”
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.