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Lack of constitutional review violates new Vision 2036 – Dikgosi

Some members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi have indicated that the deficiency of a holistic review of the current old-fashioned Botswana constitution violates the newly established country Vision 2036. The country’s supreme law effected in 1965 and it has never been reviewed holistically since then.

The main contention of the dikgosi is that the constitution should be all “inclusive” and “recognise” all tribes in Botswana as per the Vision 2036. In the country’s new vision, citizens pointed out that the supreme law should be reviewed to reflect their assertion and aspirations of making tribes equal in black and white.  

This week, the tribal leaders highlighted during a debate of a motion sponsored by an eccentric Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of the Tswapong Region that the country needs to move with times and change the old law.

Through the motion, Modise had sought “that this Honourable house requests government to start the process of constitutional review, so that Batswana can be afforded an opportunity to make an input on the constitution that would be neutral, respectful and cognizant of every citizen of this country.”

The Tswapong region Kgosi was presenting the motion at Ntlo ya Dikgosi which was also graced by Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Eric Molale, Minister of Basic Education Unity Dow and Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Botlogile Tshireletso who were representing government.   

While putting the motion in perspective he asserted: “let me stress that what am saying is that we must have a constitution which treats all citizens equally. To put this into context, it’s not only me calling for making equal our tribes in the constitution but if you can look at the Vision 2036 as well it echoes this very well.”

“Bogosi will be a visible, functional and empowered institution of governance contributing to national development. Bogosi will continue to maintain social order and cohesion. The power of Dikgosi in community development and the management of public affairs will be continually reviewed and realigned to emerging needs. Botswana laws in respect of customary law and common law shall be harmonised. All ethnic groups will have equal recognition and representation at Ntlo ya Dikgosi,” posits the new Vision 2036 on page 26.

Modise pointed out to a fully attentive house when pondering on the highly sensitive and explosive motion that, “it is Batswana who speak through the Vision 2036, they demonstrate that the current constitution does not treat the members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi equally.”

According to Modise, what concerns him most about reviewing the more than 50 years old constitution is that he believes everyone should at this point concede that the supreme law needs an appraisal to conform to the contemporary times.

While he conceded that they all sit in Ntlo ya Dikgosi and look the same, the nation recognises that “our constitution is flawed, has loopholes and is discriminatory”.

“Batswana also indicated that we are not one and the same in Vision 2016. So they want to correct this so that we are equivalents in this house. They stated even in the previous Vision 2016 document page 25 that “in order to achieve transformation and meet expectation of Batswana, the Constitution and legal framework will be reviewed and reformed.”

If the government does not review the law, Modise stated that they will be working against the aspirations of Batswana as espoused in both the elapsed Vision 2016 as well as the new-fangled Vision 2036.

“Other dikgosi should be on the same league with the old known eight major tribes. Bogosi Act implies that we are equivalents but constitution points a different scenario. And the irony of it is that the constitution supersedes the Bogosi Act.”

He said the then amended Section 77, 78, 79 of the constitution did not address the whole constitutional deficiencies currently be-devilling Ntlo ya Dikgosi.

According to Section 77 of the constitution, under subsection 11 (1) (1) “there shall be a Ntlo ya Dikgosi for Botswana which shall consist of not less than 33 nor more than 35 Members which shall be constituted as follows— (a) one person from each of the following areas, which person for the time being performs the functions of the office of Kgosi in respect of such areas- (i) Barolong Farms in the Southern District, (ii) Chobe in the North West District, (iii) Ga Malete in the South East District, (iv) Ga Mmangwato in the Central District, (v) Ghanzi District, (vi) Goo Tawana in the North West District, (vii) Kgalagadi District, (viii) Kgatleng District, (ix) Kweneng District, (x) Ngwaketse in the Southern District, (xi) North East District, and (xii) Tlokweng in the South East District; (b) five persons who shall be appointed by the President; and (c) such number of persons, not being more than 20, as may be selected under section 78(4)(c) of this Constitution.”

Currently, members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi include Kgosi Puso Gaborone of Batlokwa (Chairman of the house), Kgosi Malope II of Bangwaketse (deputy chairman of the house), Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane from Bangwato, Kgosi Kealetile Moremi representing Batawana, Barolong are represented by Kgosi Botiki Motshegare while Kgosi Mosadi Seboko is sitting in for Balete.

There is also Kgosi Kgari III representing Bakwena, Kgosi David S. Toto II of Kgalagadi South, Kgosi Justice from Moseki, Gantsi East, Kgosi Tjazako Munduu of Ngamiland, while Okavango is represented by Kgosi Disho Ndhowe and Kgosi Lobatse Beslag represents Gantsi West.

Kgosi Kgomotso Boiditswe represents Serowe Region; Kgosi Peter Johane Chika III for Chobe, Kgosi Colly Cock represents Thamaga Region, Kgosi Itsoseng Gaoonwe on behalf of Letlhakeng Region, Kgosi Rapelang Khuwe of Tutume Region and Kgosi Nametso Alfred Kopelo from Molepolole Region.

Maun Region is represented by Kgosi Oleyo Ledimo, Kgosi Thebe Makwa is from Moshupa Region, Kgosi Letso Malema from Bobirwa Region, Kgosi Seate Marumo representing Kanye Region, Kgosi Tshipe F. Tshipe of Mahalapye Region and Kgosi Kgosidialwa Oledile Puso Moalosi for Tonota Region.

There is also Kgosi Kekailwe Moscow Tefiso of Ngwaketse West, Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of Tswapong Region, Kgosi Sekgoma Eric M. Moipolai from North East Region and Kgosi Moeti Monyamane representing Kgalagadi North.

The Specially elected ones include; Kgosi Isaac Titus, Kgosi Moffat Maiba Sinvula, Kgosi Nguvauva Salatiel-Nguvauva II, Kgosi Maruje III Thabo Masunga and Kgosi Tsholo Segwaba.

When supporting the motion Kgosi Masunga III Maruje who has been calling for not only a review of the constitution as well but a holistic approach to it said: “a Constitutional review is long overdue, I agree with Batswana on the Vision 2036 document, I believe it is and should be a holistic issue. So that Batswana can be afforded an opportunity to make an input on the Constitution.”

However Kgosi Kgari Sechele of Bakwena, Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete and Kgomotso Boiditswe of Serowe region shot down the motion insisting that they do not find the need and reason to support it, and that the status quo is fine.

Modise relied his assertion also on section15 of the constitution which states that “Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, etc. (1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (4), (5) and (7) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect. (2) Subject to the provisions of subsections (6), (7) and (8) of this section, no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any written law or in the performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority. 9 of 2005, s. 4. (3) In this section, the expression "discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons, attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, tribe, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.”

On his part, when responding to the motion, Minister Molale, said the motion touches on the very basic tenets of Constitutionality. “Already neutrality, respect, cognisance of every citizen’s right in this country are enshrined in the very same Constitution that you want to amend.”

“I posit to this Honourable House that our constitution as it is written is adequate, and takes cognisance of every citizen’s right. That is something that we must bear mind to and be knowledgeable of the fact that this constitution is still relevant and will remain relevant for some time.”

So, he added that: “I am positing that this constitution, in as far as the fundamental rights are concerned, is adequate and will remain adequate”. He said to fix that which isn’t broken can actually lead to having to fix more broken things that would have “broke by fixing the unbroken”.

“So I posit that it is not yet time to do an overhaul for our constitution because the laws that are there, in support of the provisions of this constitution are relevant and are effective. So, I further go on to say that to the extend therefore that the mover does not take issue with most of the chapters that make up this constitution, there is no basis whatsoever why the Government should undertake a holistic constitutional review, as opposed to seeking the amendment only of those provisions of the constitution relating to Ntlo ya Dikgosi.”

Molale indicated that the motion as he understands it refers to Ntlo ya Dikgosi and the manner in which Members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi ascend to the house. The OP minister said Ntlo ya Dikgosi as it is, is not a Constituent Assembly and that was done deliberately as it is a House of Representatives.

“When the constitution was amended the country was being divided into 12 districts, and so what seems to be irking some people is why some were/are still referred to as Dikgosikgolo. Remember there is nowhere in the law of this Republic where there is reference to Kgosikgolo. These are perceptions made by people for whatever reason that I would not understand and I have never understood,” Molale pointed out.

According to the OP minister, the constitution as it is and as amended, has provided for election of representatives of Ntlo ya Dikgosi.

With regard to Vision 2036 which was said to be calling for a constitutional review, Molale said the document is straight and forward and only states that “if there is a deficiency in implementing what is stated by the constitution that’s when we can review to improve”.

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Plight of GBV amid Covid-19

26th November 2020
16-days-of-activism

The United Nation’s UNiTE campaign has marked the beginning of 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence which will end in December 10 2020, under the global theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women — is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.

The UN Women’s generation equality campaign emphasises the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.

Furthermore, the UN Secretary General’s report maintains that this year is like no other. Even before Covid-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions.

Globally, according to United Nations, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.

Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.

Evidently they suggest that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified- in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.

“In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abused, forced marriage, and harassment,” said the UN.

According to the UN, in April 2020 as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 member states responded with their strong statement of commitment.

“In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to Covid-19. Yet, much more is needed,” said the report.

Moreover, they submit that as today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action.

“It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis,” contended the UN report.

For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.

According to Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, there is urgent need to end pandemic of femicide and violence against women.

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she emphasizes that as the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against women is taking the lives of women and girls everywhere.

Therefore, she is calling on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.

These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases, and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance.

“Data this mandate has collected since 2015 through my Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80% of victims are women.  Many of these femicides are preventable. Since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories,” she argued.

GBV in Botswana

UNFDP (United Nations Population Fund) Botswana cites that, locally over 67 percent of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.

“Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and normalization. Victims of violence, the majority of which are women and girls, can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death,” indicated UNFDP

In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered on Monday 9th November at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the snowballing of GBV incidences, saying, they have prioritized drafting of a Sexual Offenders Bill to be tabled during the sitting of the 12th Parliament.

“The Bill will establish a Sex Offenders’ Registry to record and publicise names and particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences. To date twelve districts have set up the District Gender Committees in Chobe, Kweneng, Kgatleng, Kgalagadi, Maun, Serowe, Selibe-Phikwe, North East, Bobirwa Sub District, Mabutsane Sub District, Goodhope Sub District as well as Mahalapye Sub District. These committees will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also address gender based violence,” Masisi said.

The President highlighted that the Botswana Police Service, which has been dealing a lot with GBV cases has taken swift action and introduced a Toll-Free number for reports on gender based violence. He further indicated that the Police will establish a Gender and Child Protection Unit

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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