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How Basarwa of Ranyane lost against Gov’t

The 114 applicants wanted to be provided with water and other amenities

Residents of Ranyane settlement in the Gantsi District waited for almost a year for a judgement to be delivered at the Gaborone High Court, only to be told that as long as they have chosen to remain in a wildlife management area while others agreed to be relocated to other areas, they are not entitled to free services from government.


Residents had taken government to court over the termination of water services, mobile clinic and Draught relief programmes in their area. They demanded such services to be restored.


In a Judgement that took Justice Terrence Rannowane ten Months to prepare, Ranyane residents were told that the Council cannot be ordered by court to extend such services to unrecognised settlements such as theirs.


“In summary, I find that Ranyane is an unrecognised settlement situated within wildlife management area. The provision of services thereat including water and Ipelegeng programmes was a temporary arrangement and all the rightful beneficiaries and consumers of the services were aware of this arrangement. The termination of such services followed extensive consultations with the residents,” Rannowane ruled.


Rannowane reserved this judgment last year December and by the time he delivered the judgement on Wednesday this week; just two of the 114 applicants in the matter were present in court. The duo said it was because others could not make it to Gaborone on short notice owing to the long distance and the remote location of their Settlement.


Ranyane is located about 300 km East of Gantsi Township, making it around 1000 kilometres from Gaborone. It is inhabited mostly by Basarwa tribe, some Bangologa as well as Bakgalagadi tribes. It has a Headman, an elected Councillor as well as a specially nominated Councillor. According to the 2011 population census, the settlement had 182 people.


The attorney, representing the 114 applicants in the legal battle for restoration of services, Onalethata Kambai of Kambai Attorneys in Gaborone who represented them on voluntary basis said he had to travel to Ranyane to inform the people of the outcome of their court case.


“On the face of it, it is appealable, but we are going to consult the clients first. Left as it is, the judgment sets a bad precedence that people cannot co-exist with animals,” Kambai expressed his disappointment with the judgment.
However he insisted that it is the applicant who would make a decision of whether or not to appeal against the judgment.

Tale of Ranyane

The conflict of services between Ranyane and the Gantsi District Council started in 2011 following the population census which revealed that the number of people living in the area was going up. From then, the Council announced its plan to relocate the Basarwa who had settled in the area over the years to neighbouring settlements such as Bere.  Met with résistance from residents, the government then took away the only borehole engine which was pumping underground water to supply the settlement and the legal battle ensued.


One of the applicants in the matter Heebe Karakubis, 57, says she was born and grew up in Ranyane. The government insists that she was not born in Ranyane but rather a nomad who travelled from other parts of Gantsi District.


However the evidence she submitted before court was that she and other residents used to live on wild fruits and berries such as kgengwe and mokawa as well as hunting wild animals for sustenance around Ranyane area. The lifestyle changed after independence when the government passed laws banning hunting. Since then most residents earn their living by working in farms around the settlement and in government draught relief programmes such as Ipelegeng.


The explanation by government is that in the 1960s, boreholes were sunk along a stretch of land from Gantsi District to Lobatse known as the trek route boreholes. They were used for watering cattle which were driven on foot, donkey or horseback to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Lobatse and Ranyane was one of those boreholes drilled for such purpose.


Since selling cattle to BMC was not an everyday event, the boreholes were used for other purposes including as source of water for Basarwa who were ordinarily nomadic and lived around various pans during rainy season. The borehole was later used as an artificial insemination camp.


Ranyane residents told court that before the camp was established, there were Basarwa who were already living there. The government subsequently closed the artificial insemination camp and stopped operating the borehole. The Basarwa tribe continued living in Ranyane as they used to before independence.


Records from the Department of Animal Production show that Ranyane and other boreholes were decommissioned in the 1980s; and the artificial insemination camp was moved to Metsimantsho settlement.


In 1992, Ranyane residents say they requested the Council to provide them with a borehole engine so that they can draw water for the settlement. The very same year, officials from the Gantsi Land Board and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks informed the residents in a kgotla meeting that Ranyane was a Wildlife Management area and that their presence in the areas was obstructing the movement of the animals.


However three years later, in 1995 Metsimantsho Councillor Paul Mokgethisi, moved a motion calling for the re-opening of Ranyane borehole for use by Basarwa who were then residents at Metsimantsho, Ncojane and various pans such as Gakhwa, Zwgkata, Kaangwa, Dibakang, Uzwe, Ngwamasisi, Rulane and others.


The council adopted the motion since Basarwa in those areas, though generally nomadic, were living precariously during dry seasons. The motion according to the Council was adopted with understanding that Basarwa would get water temporarily at Ranyane until a settlement is identified for them. Since then the Council provided maintenance of the engine, constructed a reservoir and water reticulation pipes in Ranyane.


“The council undertook to operate the borehole as a temporary measure as it was within the wildlife management area and those who settled there were made aware of this arrangement and this included the then Councillor for the area. It was only in 1996 that people started converging in that area increasing the population from 39 in 1991 to 94 in 2001 and to 182 as per 2011 census,” Rannowane noted in his judgment.


The Gantsi District Council had argued that, following the reopening of the borehole in 1995, there was an influx of Bakgalagadi and other Tswana speaking farmers who left their farms and other communal boreholes to take advantage of free water in Ranyane. Some of them brought with them large numbers of livestock (300 herd per farmer) and quickly became dominant in decision making. This state of affairs did not help the situation and exacerbated the costly and unsustainable nature of the provision of services and the Council could not cope.


“It had become clear, it was averred, through kgotla consultative meetings that it was not the original Basarwa people who were intended to be temporarily assisted with water at Ranyane but other ethnic groups with large numbers of cattle who had incited them to renege from the original agreement. That was apparently because they had left their own farms and boreholes behind and were amassing riches at the expense of Council,” Rannowane further stated.


The Council stopped the operation of the engine on the 8th December 2011. The engine was in working order when removed. The Basarwa people were told the engine was removed because they were now sharing water with other tribes especially Bakgalagadi who had settled in Ranyane and reared more domestic animals.


However the Engine was brought back in 2012, but the Council was no longer providing free diesel. The residents had to sell their lifestock to buy the needed 210 litres of diesel which costs around P21 000.00 Month plus an extra P1000.00 for transporting it from Gantsi.


In the event the engine is malfunctioning, they have to go for many weeks or months without water as compared to when the Council was running it as it would immediately send an officer to fix it. The current engine used at Ranyane was bought by the residents after they mobilised their resources to buy it at a whooping amount of P10 000.00.


Although the court has reaffirmed the Council’s stance that Ranyane is an unrecognised settlement,  several developments and services were brought to Ranyane just like in all other areas within the Gantsi district including the installation of a Headman of Arbitration in 1998. A kgotla, shelter for mobile clinic and a toilet were constructed by Ranyane dwellers through the draught relief programme. They also fenced the Ranyane graveyard and debushed the main road through the same programme.


The Independent Electoral Commission even put up a polling station at the area during previous elections and the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Planning recognised Ranyane when a Councillor was specially nominated to represent Ranyane/Metsimantsho ward in the Gantsi District Council.

On the 1st May, 2013, the Council engaged in a house to house campaign where the people were told to relocate or suffer the consequences as the Council intended to terminate the provision of services by way of removing the borehole engine amongst other services.


On the 24th May 2013 there was an urgent meeting addressed by government officials and at the said meeting the Land Board Chairperson, Nelson Molepolole is said to have told the Ranyane inhabitants that they had to relocate otherwise the government would engage the Police and the Special Support Group to monitor those who refused to relocate. If fact Molepolole is said to have threatened those who refused to relocate that their houses will be demolished using earth moving equipment.


Some residents gave in to the forceful relocation while some resisted and successfully launched a legal action against government.


On July 2013, the then Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Olebile Gaborone addressed a meeting where he tried to persuade the resident to relocate but the majority refused. In one of the meeting the Minister promised that the government would respect the court order and would do nothing to contradict or disobey it.


That very same Month the government stopped all draught relief programme from Ranyane.


Before the programme was terminated, there were 40 residents of Ranyane employed on a rotational basis earning around P400 per Month. They relied on the money to support themselves and families. Since the termination of the programme they contend they do not have alternative employment or source of income and hence they have been reduced to live in dire destitution.


Some residents had to move to neighbouring settlements such as Kole and Metsiamanong where the services have not been terminated. Some relocated so as to take up work in draught relief programmes while others had to safe themselves and their livestock from thirst.


The resident are of the view that these unpleasant state of affairs were deliberately designed by the government to punish those who refuse to relocate from Ranyane and to compel them to move out and that in the absence of reasonable explanation for termination of the said services, the government’s conduct amount to unjustified and unfair discrimination in the distribution and provision of services.


The government stand is that it never intended to force Basarwa to relocate from Ranyane but rather that the house to house campaign of May 2013 was to “take the inventory of belongings of those who were willing to relocate and also to deal with possible family issues such as a situation where within a family some members would wish to relocate whilst others would want to remain behind.


It further suggested that the Basarwa prior to the influx of other ethnic groups had never shown any indication of reneging from the understanding that their stay was temporary.


The government further contended that the Bakgalagadi and Tswana Speaking groups influenced a motion to declare Ranyane a recognised settlement despite the low number of residents.


The government stand is that due to low number of residents coupled with the fact that it was located within a wildlife management area, Ranyane could not be declared a recognised settlement.


As regards the provision of drinking water, Rannowane concluded that the matter should be resolved with the Water Utilities Corporation, which is responsible for provision of such a service throughout the country and that the provision of a mobile clinic is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health not of the Gantsi District Council.

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

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Botswana ranked 129 in female MPs representation

26th July 2022
Minister of Finance & Economic Development Peggy Serame

The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.

The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.

Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.

The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.

The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).

Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).

The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.

Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.

This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors.
Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.

In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.

Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.

In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.

The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.

The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.

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