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UDC endorses Councillor’s gay lobby

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) says that they support homosexuality and decriminalization of same sex activities as they are guaranteed in the party constitution.

WeekendPost has established that from a legal perspective the party has a clear position on the matter as espoused in its constitution while on the contrary the party would not explicitly pronounce it from the political angle.

This publication has gathered that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) law makers are also skating on thin ice on taking a standpoint on the issue of homosexuality as they dread for political expediency.

However, according to UDC’s Information and Publicity Secretary, Moeti Mohwasa, the UDC constitution guarantees Second Generation Rights and that “obviously touches on homosexuality and other issues of interest currently neglected”.

Mohwasa told WeekendPost in an interview on Thursday this week that “the issue of homosexuality and decriminalization of same sex activities is a human right issue – and as a party we do recognize all human rights issues. Therefore, in other words, if the issue of gays and lesbians is a human right issue then it’s guaranteed in the (our) constitution.”

Mohwasa however asserted that although the party has not taken a specific position on homosexuality, there is no need to make such pronunciation as the answer lies in the party’s supreme law – the constitution. “It’s a constitution that guides the party,” he stressed.

Mohwasa was speaking to this publication at the backdrop of UDC/GCC Councillor, Seargent Kgosietsile’s victory in his controversial bid to lure colleagues at Gaborone City Council (GCC) to pass the motion to “request government to consider decriminalization of same-sex sexual activities to support HIV/AIDS programmes and policies”.

The motion eventually passed after receiving opposition from only one BDP and Specially Elected Councillor, Macdonald Peloetletse who would not be seconded on his resistance to the motion.  

In essence the motion, by the maverick Councilor for Marulamantsi ward seeks to lobby the law making body of Botswana – the National Assembly – to decriminalize same sex sexual conduct by amending the country’s penal Code.

GCC does not have the powers to amend the laws of the republic but only the legislators have the prerogative to do so under the confines of its functions.

When supporting Kgosietsile’s motion during the debate, another UDC Councillor representing Block 9 ward, Sesupo Jacobs, highlighted that the motion to decriminalize same sex conduct is in line with the UDC manifesto and approach under pillar 4.

The said pillar states that“‘no one is left out’: a system in which all citizens are entitled to protection under the constitution and are brought to the social and economic mainstream of our society by accessing appropriate services that are beneficial and well managed.”

UDC Councilor invited former President Festus Mogae to motion debate

Former President Festus Mogae who is a well-known proponent of decriminalization of homosexuality was also invited but the invitation was withdrawn at a later stage after the motion could not proceed on the first date (last week), and consequently was not able to pitch up on the ensuing date.

Homosexuality activists including Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) and Botswana Network on Ethic law and HIVB/AIDS supporters were present during the debate.

Previously and subsequent to the motion postponement, human rights lawyers like Phazha Molebatsi of Ndadi Law Firm as well as law maker Kgosi Lotlaamoreng Montshioa II also graced the public gallery to show support for the motion on the day allocated for its debate.

BDP MP Tshireletso also backs UDC Councilor

Meanwhile it is understood that Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso who has not spared publicly declaring her support for legalizing abortion, prostitution and homosexuality has also told Councillor Kgosietsile of her support on the motion.

“She sent me a text message yesterday and assured me of her undying support on this motion,” UDC Councilor told the GCC chamber when debating the motion.

Tshireletso is also expected to table a similar motion in the coming weeks on the same topic of amending the Penal Code to decriminalize same sex sexual activities. As a member of the ruling party in the national assembly, which banks on its majority, she is expected to rally her colleagues – amid their reluctance to discuss such sensitive issues which have deep reservations on the society.  

GCC falls in the steps of alandmark CoA ruling

Recently the supreme and ultimate court – Court of Appeal has ruled that a homo sexual organization, LEGABIBO is at liberty to register and advocate for their rights in a legal manner.

In most cases it is homosexuals who indulge in same sex sexual activities that the Council is lobbying law makers to decriminalize.

It is public knowledge that in Botswana the Panel Code criminalises same sex sexual conduct under sections 164 as well as 167.

According to Penal Code Section 164 under unnatural offences; “Any person who (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits any other person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.

In section 167 it states that through indecent practices between persons; “any person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another person, or procures another person to commit any act of gross indecency with him or her, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any person with himself or herself or with another person, whether in public or private, is guilty of an offence.”

In decriminalizing same-sex sexual relationships, Kgosietsile stressed that it will minimize and end stigma and discrimination associated with it.

“Who am I talking about when I say same sex people? I am talking about Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) individuals in Botswana. The people I speak of are Batswana, our brothers, sisters, children, parents, relatives, colleagues, leaders, subordinates, employers, employees; just to mention a few,” the UDC Councilor said.

He gave an example of Mozambique which he said legalized acts of homosexuality and therefore Botswana can follow suit. “Refer to recent changes in Mozambique where acts of homosexuality were decriminalized.”

‘Fire churches’ body still denounces homosexuals as “unholy”

Meanwhile, the umbrella of ‘fire churches’ in Botswana, Evangelist Fellowship Botswana (EFB) has described homosexuality as ‘unholy and immoral’.

“We as EFB believe that the infallibility of Scripture in these matters is non-negotiable. There is no right to do wrong. Batswana know what is right and wrong and have defined that in their Penal Code. Any change to Batswana's self-defined moral sanctions should not be left to a few individuals to decide, but should be put before the nation through a referendum,” Master Matlhaope, President of EFB cautioned recently in an exclusive interview with WeekendPost.

Matlhaope reiterated that homosexuality as a practice is criminal and “must remain so”, and added that it is of extreme importance to note that Batswana have not condoned homosexual behaviours or tendencies as is indicated in a recent Afrobarometer study. The research indicated that majority of Batswana abhors and shuns it, as per “the bible and Tswana customs”.

The umbrella body of ‘fire churches’ maverick leader maintained that Botswana should not allow herself to be pressurized by the current wave of transient trends which are perpetuated by international pressure groups. He added that these groups have organized to disadvantage and punish nations that are determined to preserve their own culture, identity and norms – and “this type of pressure is unethical and wrong and must not be tolerated”.

“Such practices despise the very foundations upon which this nation is built on,” he asserted. He highlighted that "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people" (Prov 14:34), and submission to Biblical norms holds hope to our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

“We submit that civil laws should be based on what is morally right. There should be no civil right to do a moral wrong,” Matlhaope stressed.

What the law and international instruments says on homosexuality

Section 3 of the Botswana constitution posits that: “whereas every person in Botswana is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his or her race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest to each and all of the following, namely- (a) life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law.”

The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which Botswana ratified in July 1986, article 2 contends that: “every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.

Article 4 of the same Charter states that “human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.”

LEGABIBO extends gratitude to UDC Councillor for his bravery

According to a statement released on Thursday, the Lesbians Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) thanked Hon. Sergeant Yellowman Kgosietsile, “for reaching out to the LGBTI community and contribute to elimination of stigma and discrimination, addressing exclusion of LGBTI, fighting homophobia and helping LEGABIBO to access structures which have always been difficult to access”.

The statement states that they also commend the Gaborone City Council for allowing Hon. Yellowman Kgosietsile to table such a motion and actually passing it. “We acknowledge that this is the first time in the history of LGBTI advocacy that Council conversed on LGBTI issues.”

“This action is important to the LGBTI community because it aims to enhance the health, wellbeing, inclusion and non-discrimination of the LGBTI in Botswana. In addition, the honorable GCC house calls for the inclusion of LGBTI in HIV/AIDS interventions and education of health care providers, echoing the position that LEGABIBO represents.”

Furthermore, the organisation said it is grateful for the forward thinking of politicians such as Kgosietsile and honourable members of the Gaborone City Council for their dedication to contributing to HIV response and protecting the marginalized groups.

“We acknowledge that the mandate of the honourable house is not to change laws, but we appreciate their efforts to lobby for change and make recommendations to law makers in their respective positions. Their contribution shall be cited in the history of LGBTI advocacy in Botswana.”

LEGABIBO also called upon all politicians to emulate this example by Kgosietsile and Gaborone City Council to lobby for legal reform and make recommendations for law makers.

Meanwhile BCP Councilor for Government ward Mohamed Sobhan will also table a related motion – but on same sex marriage – to pile pressure on Parliament to make necessary amendments to allow for such.

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No deal was made with Disney World – Tsogwane

16th April 2021
disney-carlifonia-park

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has been touring the entire world since occupying Presidential office in 2018. Few months down the line, he flew to Florida in the United States of America where he landed at the Disney World.

This is the world’s largest entertainment complex opened in 1971, with four theme parks (consisting of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

Upon his return in the country from the fairytale land, Masisi said Botswana struck a partnership with Disney World. The partnership primarily focused on turning the country’s capital, Gaborone, into an international tourism and leisure destination.

“We have struck a partnership with Disney World as a company. They focus on making people happy and bringing tourists. I want tourists in this country. Visa restrictions are out. They will be issued on arrival. I have tasked Minister Makgato’s Ministry to categorize taxis so that there can be value in the taxi industry.

I am very committed to making Gaborone an international venue center and this will bring revenue to our country,” Masisi said at the time. Masisi, has now appointed Makgato as Botswana’s High Commissioner – designate to the Commonwealth of Australia.

However, two years later, there is no sign of Gaborone being turned into a tourism hub. In fact, the partnership Masisi struck with Disney World never emerged. It is now becoming more of a pipeline dream, and politicians are keen to know what really transpired.

In a dramatic turn of events, Masisi’s flanking Minister, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng, slammed Vice President Slumber Tsogwane with questions on this said ghost partnership, demanding answers on Masisi’s long dead promise.

Vice President Tsogwane told Parliament on Thursday that Masisi was looking for investors to come and do business in Botswana, either in partnership with government or the private sector.

“The President and his delegation engaged in meetings with the management of Disney World to identify opportunities for the company to collaborate with in Botswana. There were a number of opportunities Mr. Speaker for collaboration that were identified to be followed up with by bilateral negotiations with various institutions.

The key area that was identified for collaboration was the implementation of an enhanced customer care training and development akin to that of Disney World.

The Botswana Public Service College was assigned to collaborate with Disney World, to roll out a training programme which will achieve excellent customer service for the public sector in Botswana, Tsogwane said via virtual Parliament.

He further said representatives of Disney World visited Botswana on a fact finding mission in May 2019.

“While in Botswana, the team toured selected sites such as Gaborone bus rank, Tlokweng Boarder post, and Department of Roads, Training and Safety offices amongst others. Following this, Disney World produced a scoping report which detailed training and engagement timelines for consideration by government,” said Tsogwane.

In fulfilment of their procurement requirement, Tsogwane said Disney Institute was requested to submit a proposal based on their scoping report indicating associated cost implications. He said, Disney declined to submit citing that it does not deal directly with government.

“After being advised by their Disney World Board, they therefore advised Botswana government to deal with another company in the United States of America, which according to them does the Disney World way. This never proceeded because our interest was on Disney World and not any other company that point in time.”

As a result, Tsogwane told Parliament that no deal or contract was signed with Disney World. “The issue of easing of restrictions which is part of the question, between any two countries is a matter that is negotiated through diplomatic channels and whenever agreements are reached, proper communication is made. With regard to Visa restrictions between Botswana and the US, Tsogwane says they will continue discussions on how to ease restrictions,” he said on Thursday.

Morwaeng wanted Tsogwane to update Parliament on: Government’s deal with Disney World, the terms of the deal propounded by the President in March 2019; Whether the deal was signed, when it was signed and clear specifics of the deal and its benefits to Botswana tourism; when visa restrictions between the two countries (Botswana and the United States of America) will be eased and visas issued on arrival as per the Disney World deal pronouncement; and If the deal struck with Disney World was not just mere electioneering talk that will never see the light of the day.

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Gov’t has no budget for Magosi’s SADC chase

12th April 2021
Elias Magosi

Despite the government of Botswana’s ambition to have one of its own to lead Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) since its establishment in 1980, the Presidency says there is no budget specifically dedicated to the campaign.

The Government has released the name of Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Mpedi Magosi, as the candidate for the SADC Executive Secretary position. Magosi is expected to face off with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) candidate, Faustin Mukela. The position will become vacant in August this year.

However, despite the optimism the Botswana Government has not yet set aside a budget to assist Magosi to win against the seemingly DRC giant. “We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country’s ability to effectively fund any new project. This campaign is not an exception. As such, we do not have any budget for the campaign. However, we have so far managed to take advantage of His Excellency the President’s working visits to the neighbouring countries to also carry out the campaigns,” Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang, explained.

Botswana has housed SADC since the establishment of the then SADCC in 1980, but has never occupied top most leadership positions at the SADC Secretariat.  “We therefore, strongly believe that we should also have an opportunity to contribute to the management of our regional body as it continues to drive the important issues of regional integration industrialization and socio-economic development.

This will also profile Botswana as a strong advocate of regional integration,” he responded to this publication’s questionnaire as to why the Government wants to occupy the plum post. SADC is a Member State driven organization. As such, Leagajang said, needs a well-grounded Executive Secretary with a blend of management and leadership acumen; a transformational leader with political awareness and integrity; private and public sector experience; a deep culture of corporate governance; as well as strategic agility and result-oriented consummate diplomat.

“These are the unique attributes of our candidate,” he said. So far President Mokgweetsi Masisi has visited nine out of 16 SADC member states on a working visit and also taking an opportunity to present to them his candidate.

“The countries have appreciated this effort and we remain hopeful. However, it is important to note that this is a democratic and competitive process which must be respected,” he responded when asked about the reception and assurances from various countries to cast a vote for Magosi.

In 2018, when Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenged for the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, the government appointed former President Festus Mogae to be the campaign leader. Does the Government have anyone apart from Masisi to help with the campaign?

“The campaigns for the candidate are strictly led by the Government of Botswana. Since this is a candidate for Botswana, not just the Government, it will be appreciated if all Batswana, including the media, could also shoulder the responsibility to campaign for the candidate in their own spheres of influence,” Leagajang responded.

While there are sceptics on Magosi winning against the DRC man, the Government is confident and believes that with the unique traits that he possess, Magosi stands a chance. He is said to be a strong advocate of justice and fairness as he has played this role in his current role as PSP and in his previous roles as PS and in the private sector. He has helped individuals and companies to find justice and fairness in most of their dealings with Government.

Magosi is also said to be a proponent of corporate governance and which he has relentlessly pursued in most of his career including in Government and other sectors. A strong believer in following laid down procedures and laws. “He carries a variety of skills as an HR expert with experience in different sectors, a strategist and an Organization development specialist.

His experience and exposure spans government, parastatal, private sector and at regional level as well, thus making him a suitable candidate for the regional role. He has worked with governments, businesses, development partners and politicians and is comfortable navigating through all of them,” Leagajang concluded.

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Mzwinila’s P4.3 Billion gamble to keep water flowing

12th April 2021
orth-South-Carrier

The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila looked a politician set to shoot the moon as he laid bare his billions of pula development agenda recently in Parliament.

His Ministry’s combined Recurrent and Development Budget Proposals for the 2021/ 2022 Financial Year is pegged at Four Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty – Five Million, two Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P4, 365, 219, 560). This is a budget 38.3% more than the allocation for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.

Mzwinila preluded his request to parliament with a demonstration that his Ministry has no champagne taste on a beer budget – indicating that his ministry’s expenditure at the end of February 2021P2.111 Billion or 96% of development budget; and P910 million or 90% of the recurrent budget.

Notwithstanding the budget dust, the Minister justified this year’s increase in the Ministry’s total budget. He attributed the escalation to the commencement of major projects under the water sector. These include the implementation of the North South Carrier (NSC) 22.2 covering various sub projects. Mzwinila noted that these are all public value projects which are aimed at improving the lives of Batswana.

Mzwinila’s Ministry has projected that the sum of Nine Hundred and Sixty –Three Million, Nine Hundred and Forty – Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P963, 947, 560) be permitted for the Recurrent Budget and stand part of the 2021 / 2022 Appropriation Bill ( No. 1 of 2021).

“55% of the Recurrent Budget is geared towards the Revenue Support Grant for 12 Land Boards and their subordinate authorities while the sum of P5 Million is allocated to the Real Estate Advisory Council (REAC). The remaining 44% is proposed for the Ministry Departments.”

The sum of Three Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, Two hundred and Seventy –Two Thousand Pula (P3, 401, 272, 000), for the Development Budget was approved and stand part of the same schedule of the appropriation (2021/2022).

When breaking down the Development Budget, Minister Mzwinila noted that Water Supply and Sanitation projects will account for P1.098 Billion to finance the Maun Water and Sanitation project, Molepolole Sanitation projects and the Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation.

With all the implementation bottlenecks troubling several projects in the country, Mzwinila had to satisfy the question of whether his Ministry demonstrated a dire need for the budget with reference to its execution of the budget for the financial year 2020/2021 and its delivery of strategic initiatives and projects?

Mzwinila’s pitch found favour with parliament and his ministry will get an aggregate budget of P3.198 Billion for the 2020/ 2021 Financial Year. Within this allocation, P2.188 Billion is for the Development Budget and P1.010 Billion will cover the Recurrent Budget.

The Minister revealed his strategic interventions for land management, water and sanitation services. Highlighting that efforts by Government to provide serviced residential land to citizens on the waiting list are being hampered by limited resources. He shared that his ministry needs P94 Billion to cover such costs which will directly link to water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications and storm water drainage leading to the allocation of 4 587 plots on un-serviced land.

The minister projected that 22 952 un-serviced residential plots are planned to be allocated in the next financial year. However, there is a trend where allocated land remains fallow and undeveloped which raises misgivings that the requests could have been made on speculative plans.

Mzwinila noted that in the spirit of forging stronger International connections, the Ministry will in June 2021 sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Land matters between Namibia and Botswana with the aim of opening doors to the creation of Dry Ports in the country, facilitate international trade through Walvis Bay Sea Port.

Botswana is already challenged by scarcity of naturally occurring water resources due to the aridity of the country creating persistent water shortages. The type of infrastructure required to improve national water security is a true reflection of intensive investment needed in the water sector The Minister stressed.

“An emerging issue such as the COVID -19 pandemic poses serious challenges as the control of the virus requires reliable water supply. In an effort to mitigate the challenge, the Ministry has undertaken extensive bowsing throughout the country which included the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with pervasive water shortages, plus an additional forty one (41) un-gazetted settlements.

Operational costs due to bowsing were at an average of P6 Million per month before the COVID-19 pandemic and increased to an unsustainable amount of the order of P13 Million per month, since the beginning of the State of Emergency in April 2020,” the minister shared.

Through the support of a World Bank Loan, the Ministry is implementing several initiatives under the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) project. Through BEWSE the Raw Water Pricing and Abstraction Strategy will assess the pricing of water in a manner that enables the provision of water to support new economic development, the strategy is planned to be completed in June 2021.

The Ministry has commenced the development of a long term National Water Security Strategy to improve resilience to climate change impacts. The strategy development entails prioritization of the proposed future mega water transfers such as the Chobe – Zambezi water transfer, the Atlantic Ocean water transfer to Botswana through Namibia and Lesotho – Botswana water transfer.

Following the signing of the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa in November 2017 for the Lesotho –Botswana Water Transfer project, a 24 months contract for a combined prefeasibility and feasibility study for the development of a bankable Lesotho – Botswana Water Transfer project feasibility study was signed and is to be completed in 2022.

One of the Ministry’s famous major water supply projects such as the North South Carrier (NSC) 2.2 has experienced hiccups; having tenders for contract 1 (Masama to Mmamashia Pipeline) and Contract 2 (Mahalapye to Masama Pipeline) cancelled due to budgetary constraints.

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