The provincial government of the North West in South Africa is funding a multimillion Pula research project in Botswana called the National Liberation Heritage Route (NLHR) in collaboration with North Department of Arts and Culture, Botswana Tourism and the Department of Museums and Art Gallery to trace, track, assess, identify, document and protect and propose for listing to the South African Heritage Resources Agency, sites which represent indigenous Africans Wars of Resistance and the struggle against apartheid.
A source close to the project Kopano Lekoma of Pitsane and ex-Umkhonto We Siswe combatant says, the project is an initiative of the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, as represented in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
The research project will on the other known as the Liberation Heritage Route and which may ultimately be made available to UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in order to preserve an important period in the history of South African liberation struggle which may also be made available for packaging as attractive tourism products.
The 2005 UNESCO World Heritage Committee 33rd General General Conference foregrounded the "Roads to Independence – African Liberation Struggles" specifically recommended the collection, documentation, conservation and commemoration of Africa's heritage and experience accumulated during the struggles for independence.
This project is a manifestation of this ideal and represents Botswana leg of the South African Liberation Heritage Route under the auspices of the North West Provincial Government.â€¨â€¨The NLHR focuses on the SADC member states generally whose liberation struggles had global, continental and regional dimensions.
This project will result in a series of sites that in combination expresses the key aspects of the South African liberation experience and the Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of global history( World Heritage Council, 2009).
This project complies with the vision of UNESCO and the AU, that the NLHR should first cover South Africa and ultimately encompass the rest of the SADC members states of Angola, Botswana ,Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with a potential of identifying other African states outside the SADC region.â€¨â€¨
The Roads to Independence African Liberation Heritage Project is therefore, a multi-country programme which acknowledges the importance indigenous Afriican resistance and the role of the liberation movements to the process of decolonization of the African continent as well as the role played by African countries in providing material and moral support to the liberation movements which led to the struggle for independence in Southern Africa, according to fomer First Secretary at the South African High Commission Nthaniel Serache. â€¨â€¨A significant part of this history stands to be lost unless it is collected, documented and made accessible to the public.
The project attempts to document and recognize the contribution of people and institutions to the liberation of the continent (Wadaw, 2013). Many of the personalities who were instrumental in the prosecution of the liberation struggle are no longer alive and those who are still alive have not documented their experiences in any detail.
There is therefore a gap due to the lack of transmission of information and knowledge to the younger generations. The project will therefore bridge the knowledge and information gap, says Dikgang Mopelwa, former South African High Commissioner to Botswana.
â€¨â€¨MEC for Arts and Culture Ms Tebogo Modise While recognizing the role of the liberation movements in the struggle for independence in Africa, the role of civil society organizations and ordinary citizens who contributed to the achievement of independence in various countries on the continent in often not recognized and there are still many liberation veterans past and present who have not been adequately recognized.
Consequently, the significance of the project goes beyond the singular acknowledgement of the role of the liberation movements, to a broader recognition of the role of African people and institutions in the attainment of freedom for the continent. It is a broader vision that informs the project and positions. It is a key element in the realization of the African Union vision.â€¨
Modise says, the project is viewed in the context of transnational serial nomination and part of the SADC serial nomination. The project is also based on the Decisions of the 32nd World Heritage Committee(Quebec City, Canada, 2 – 10 July 2008, item 10, "Global Strategy for a Representative, Balanced and Credible World Heritage List (WHC 08/32 COM IOB) as well as the African Position Paper on the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention adopted by the 29th Session of the World Heritage Committee, Durban, 2005, the Sixth Ordinary Session of the AU Summit of the Heads of States held in Khartoum on January 2096.
The project also addresses issues elucidated in paragraph 7 of COHC's Decision 32, COM 10 B especially providing a list of existing serial properties on the WH list and calling on state parties to submit a list of "all known and potential future nominations (whc.unesco.org) â€¨â€¨She says the research project will record and celebrate the neglected history of the African support for the liberation struggle in other African states.
The African liberation movement and the coordination work of Liberation Committee of the OAU is the single most influential factor in modern day Africa. As such it demands urgent attention lest an important part of the African history is lost. â€¨â€¨Much of the history was not documented or records of the clandestine nature of the struggle were destroyed to ensure the secrecy of the activists.
Many of the living figures are now approaching old age and there is an urgent need to record their oral histories – it is a race against time. In particular the role of women in the struggle needs to be documented, including the sacrifices made to support the activists.
Many internally and in the region who also played a critical role in support of the liberation struggle have not been acknowledged and out of the public domain, according to Modise â€¨â€¨Cultural heritage can include tangible and intangible things. The form may include monuments, buildings, sites, works of nature and works of man (UNESCO, 1972; Throsby, 1997).
The intangible includes traditions and customs (Snowball and Courtney). Heritage industry gives rise to cultural capital (Throsby, 2003) based on market and non-market values placed upon it or physical capital value (stock variable) and the cultural value respectively.
The two values are not independent. If the physical assets is not conserved and developed, the flow of services or cultural values will diminish. Cultural value is part of a nation's wealth and should be conserved for future generations.
It is defined by Throsby as "assets that embodies a store of cultural value separate from whatever economic value it might possess.â€¨â€¨Thus heritage sites produce economic values in the form of market value of the site itself from the income generated from tourism for example, as well as intangible cultural values setting apart cultural heritage sites from other sites.
Cultural capital is important for sustainable economic development. Just as ecosystems or environmental capital are essential for the maintenance of economic activity, so also can cultural ecosystems and cultural diversity be seen as an important component of infrastructure supporting a dynamic economy (Throsby, 2007:23).
A claim of a link between economic development and the preservation and documentation of heritage motivated the development of LHR in South Africa, however, says Snowball and Courtney, such correlation is often not easily determinable, due to non-market value of many of these benefits which are often quantified using methods like contingency valuation and in some cases, hedonic pricing, which have their own problems and biases (Ruijgrok, 2006; Snowball, 2008). Attracting funding for heritage is also often constrained by equally competing and deserving national priorities of a developing country such as education, health, etc. â€¨â€¨
The much-anticipated opposition unity talks that will see Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) engage Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are expected to kick off any time from now.
According to informants, the talks, which were preceded by-elections negotiations, aim to be as inclusive as possible. As the talks start, the UDC, composed of Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP), insist on retaining its preferred model of Umbrella; on the other hand, the BPF is proposing a PACT; and AP is in favour of an alliance model.
BPF is reportedly sceptical on the umbrella model and wants cooperation with the flexibility to allow other parties to join hands with UDC but without necessarily contesting elections using UDC symbols and colours.
BPF, which is currently the fastest-growing party, seems to be focused on self-actualization, self-preservation and securing institutional capacity in case of any political calamity. Although often profitable, cooperation politics can often leave individual political parties battered by political events and weakened beyond meaningful survival.
Discussions with some BPF members suggest that the party has big ambitions and harbour serious intentions of taking the BDP by its horns-all by itself-one day. “The position by some of our leaders is that the future of the UDC remains uncertain. The position and advice are that we should not put all our eggs in one basket. And the party elders think the pact model of cooperation is the safest under prevailing circumstances. Some, however, are worried that we should not overestimate our worth despite being the fastest-growing party in the country.
However, the matter is yet to be concluded once we receive the official invite,” revealed a BPF member of the NEC. Asked about the specifics of the pact idea, another high ranking party official revealed that the party Patron, Lt Gen Ian Khama and his brother Tshekedi Khama are among those who are for the election pact model.
BPF Spokesperson Lawrence Ookeditse has earlier this year told this publication that: “We have not settled on a model yet.” He also added that as a party, they are ready and willing to work with UDC, “but we will have our thoughts on how the cooperation or the talks should transpire, and they too will tell us their preference, and we will sit on the table to see how best to work together”.
AP heads into these negotiations with proposals of its own. On the model part, AP has expressed flexibility but want its partners to consider other models. AP believes that beyond the umbrella model, the coalition could also have a matrix to ensure that opposition parties select the best candidates for parliamentary and council seats.
AP, a splinter party of the beleaguered Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), asks for the constituencies allocated to BMD in the previous talks before it was kicked out on the eve of the 2019 elections.
AP, which garnered a popular vote of under 40 000 in the 2019 general elections, is confident that it brings tremendous value to the UDC, and state power could be within reach in 2024. To reconcile the various interest of political parties, the leaders have agreed to engage political experts in a bid to arrive at the best decisions.
“There will be no conveners because parties in the past believed that they (conveners) took decisions on behalf of the constituent parties, though they are not representing any. So, the idea is to rope in political experts to direct UDC and the negotiating parties as to which path of cooperation model to follow,” a highly placed informant said this week.
UDC convener Lebang Mpotokwane has also defended the umbrella model in the past, noting that it creates fewer problems for the participants. The negotiations will be the fourth opposition cooperation talks since the 2009 elections. The opposition has held talks in 2011, 2012 and 2017. The 2012 talks resulted in Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), which has been anchoring negotiations since then.
When the Chairperson of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Body invited member states to submit candidates for the vacant Director-General post for consideration, Botswana developed a keen interest.
It swiftly mobilized to beat the deadline, but the unions, upon consultation, nominated Justice Key Dingake as their preferred candidate, much to the government’s disappointment, who then decided to dump the whole issue altogether.
In accordance with the Rules governing the appointment of the Director-General and the decisions made by the Governing Body at its 341st and 342nd Sessions, the Chairperson of the Governing Body calls for candidates for appointment to the office of Director-General of the ILO through communication to all Governing Body members and all ILO Member States and candidatures must be submitted by a Member State of the ILO or by a regular or deputy member of the Governing Body.
The deadline for submission was on Friday, 1 October 2021, and candidatures were to be sent by postal or electronic mail to the following address to the Chairperson of the Governing Body. This publication had established that when Cabinet sat to discuss the issue, it was resolved that the unions as key stakeholders should be consulted and requested to submit a name for consideration. They did and offered Justice Oagile Key Dingake-a distinguished scholar and labour law expert whose contribution to the country’s labour fraternity is unparalleled.
When asked this week to share their side of the story, the unions said they were first invited to partake in the process by the government but never got a response after they nominated judge Dingake as an ideal candidate.
“We sent our correspondence to the Minister of Employment, Labour and productivity, Mpho Balopi, with our suggested name being Justice Oagile Key Dingake, but since then we never got a response,” said unionist, Tobokani Rari who further expressed disappointment at how the government has handled the matter.
Rari said that while he would not want to impute any improper motives to anyone, the developments rekindled memories of the government’s hostility towards Judge Dingake, who has been forced by circumstances to take his skills and wealth of experience to the benefit of other countries. Balopi did not respond to questions sent to him and did not pick this publication’s calls at the time of going to press.
Cabinet insiders say Dingake’s name spoilt the party and dampened the spirits. “In the list of nominated names, he was the leading candidate, but I guess the powers that be could not imagine themselves campaigning for him and doing all they did for the Executive Secretary of SADC Secretariat, Elias Magosi.”
Dingake’s sin, observers say, has always been his progressive, independent mind and family’s political background, all of which have always stood in his way to progress to the country’s judicial ladder’s ends.
It is understood that also in the mix and preferred by the state was former Attorney General, judge, and now Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations and other international organizations, Dr Athaliah Molokomme, who also has a background in human rights advocacy.
But insiders say many believed that the country should export Dingake to represent the country given his decorated experience and background. As a lawyer, Dingake represented 90% of Trade Unions in Botswana, drafted numerous Collective Labour Agreements, later presided overall trade disputes, including Collective Labour Agreements, and made determinations as Judge of the Industrial Court of Botswana.
Dingake has also written and lectured widely on trade, labour and human rights and holds numerous citations and awards for his work regarding peace, human rights, and social development. Had he contested and won, he would have been the first African to lead the ILO.
The ILO is built on the constitutional principle that universal and lasting peace can be established only if based on social justice. The ILO has been the source of such hallmarks of industrial society as the 8-hour day, maternity protection, child labour laws and a whole range of policies promoting workplace safety and peaceful industrial relations. Unique among UN organizations, the ILO has a tripartite structure involving governments, employers and workers.
ILO Director-General elections events lineup…
At its 341st (March 2021) and 342nd (June 2021) Sessions, the ILO Governing Body approved the following timetable for the appointment of the Director-General because the current term of office of the Director-General will come to an end on 30 September 2022:
1 July 2021: The Chairperson of the Governing Body calls for candidatures 1 October 2021: Last date for the reception of candidatures A week in January 2022: The Chairperson of the Governing Body conducts interviews with candidates for the position of Director-General based on the format and principles contained in document GB.342/INS/6 and the guidance provided by the Governing Body at its 342nd Session 14-15 March 2022 (344th Session of the Governing Body): The Governing Body conducts candidate(s) hearings 25 March 2022 (344th Session of the Governing Body): The Governing Body conducts the ballot for the election of the Director-General 1 October 2022: The term of office of the Director-General commences.
Botswana and the European Union (EU) appear to have been at each other’s throats behind the scenes since last year, with the EU saying it held several meetings with Botswana to convince her to address human rights issues.
This is contained in a 2020 Human Rights Report that reveals broad divisions in contentious issues boiling behind the scenes between Gaborone and the Union. According to the report, which was released recently, the EU says it “continues to follow closely three main human rights issues in Botswana: the application of the death penalty; the rights of LGBTI persons; and gender equality.”
“Botswana remains part of a small group of countries – in Africa and globally – which continue to retain the death penalty both in law and in practice. Three executions were recorded in 2020,” the report says. According to the report, the Botswana Government indicated that a public debate on the application of the death penalty should be part of its ongoing work towards developing a Comprehensive Human Rights Strategy and the related National Action Plan.
The report says further progress on the rights of LGBTI persons’ seen in 2019, when Botswana’s High Court decriminalised same-sex consensual relations, is still pending, subject to a final court decision over a government appeal.
“Finally, gender-based violence and the need to advance gender equality and women’s rights in society remain another challenge for the country. In response to the high incidence of gender-based violence – which has intensified in many countries during the current COVID-19 pandemic – the President and the First Lady launched a public campaign to fight gender-based violence and to promote equality,” the report says.
The report says the EU did not fold its arms and watch from the sidelines the human rights issues in question are concerned but confronted Botswana to have the contentious issue addressed. “The EU continued to engage with the Botswana Government, multilateral organisations, non-governmental organisations and the broader society in Botswana in three main areas: the death penalty, gender-based violence and empowerment of women, and rights of LGBTI persons, as well as on the support of media and implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations,” the report says.
The report says that in addition to ad hoc consultations and human rights-oriented outreach efforts, the EU engaged with the Botswana Government on human rights formally in the context of the Article 8 Political Dialogue, which took place in February 2020.
“The dialogue offered an opportunity to exchange views on EU’s and Botswana’s experiences concerning the three EU priority areas in Botswana (capital punishment, gender-based violence and rights of LGBTI persons) as well as other human rights challenges, while also exploring opportunities for EU-Botswana cooperation on human rights issues in the context of the EU-Africa partnership and at the multilateral level,” the report says.
In parallel to engagement with the government, the EU said it continued to maintain dialogue with representatives of civil society focusing on human rights and with UN organisations and other partners of the country.
“The EU continues to be the driving force behind the Gender Dialogue (in principle co-chaired with UN Women and the Gender Affairs Department in the Ministry of Immigration, Nationality and Gender), which brings together various stakeholders to discuss gender issues to chart a way forward regarding partnerships. The EU has also used public diplomacy efforts to stimulate broader dialogue in the country on human rights issues,” the report says.
The EU said it continued to provide financial support to projects funded through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, with activities focused primarily on helping Botswana tackle gender-based violence, strengthen the notion of gender equality in the country, and promote participation in political processes.
“With six projects already underway, the EU signed two new programmes, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to support victims of gender-based and domestic violence and defend the rights of marginalised people, with a combined budget of EUR 430,000,” the report says. It says one of the projects is designed to offer care services to victims of gender-based violence and provide clinical services, counselling, shelter, and a referral system for legal and social assistance. Another project provides legal, medical and psychosocial support to refugees, undocumented migrants and indigenous people.
It says Botswana remains an important like-minded partner for the EU on the human rights agenda at a multilateral level. “The country’s positive role on human rights in the multilateral context would be further strengthened by initiating a domestic process of reflection about the signature and ratification of several pending core human rights conventions and/or optional protocols (e.g. the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture, etc.)” the report says.
But the report acknowledged that Botswana is a stable and well-established democracy with a legal framework and institutions designed to guarantee respect for human rights in society. It says human rights complaints are addressed by the courts, with the government accepting decisions and implementing relevant rulings.
“Although the media scene in the country is relatively undeveloped, the World Press Freedom Index has noted a further positive trend concerning the role of the media in society (as was also the case in 2019) and has improved Botswana’s ranking from 44th to 39th place (out of 180 countries),” the report says. Meanwhile, this week, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi met with the EU delegation led by the managing director for Africa of the European External Action Services, Ms Rita Laranjinha.