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€¨
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.
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.