Mogae says his organization has petitioned anti-gay countries in writing
NEW YORK – Renowned for his relentless fight against HIV/AIDS, former President Dr Festus Mogae, teamed up with together with the United Nations Secretary general, Ban ki-Moon this week and launched a scathing attack on countries opposed to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) rights.
The two opinion leaders further called on such states to reconsider their positions if they really value human rights. Botswana is among the countries whose laws are still considered to be anti-LGBT rights. However in terms of law enforcement, the country law enforcement agencies are not viewed as harassing the groups.
Before being appointed Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr Unity Dow last year spearheaded three sensitive cases of transgendered people after the Office of the President told her clients that ‘they were not recognized in Botswana laws.’ They eventually got assistance through her intervention. She had threatened to take the matter to court.
Speaking at the High Level LGBT Core Group Event in New York this at the United Nations headquarters, Mogae started off by quoting one of the renowned humanitarians, the late Mother Theresa when she said: “human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human beings entitlement by virtue of humanity”.
Mogae, who has been preaching a parallel message to President Lt Gen Ian Khama and churches on the issue, said protection of the rights of all sectors of the population, no matter how small the sector remains one of the fundamental responsibilitiesof any leader.
“A leader is not only responsible to the most powerful group, the richest, the loudest, the largest or those of similar political orientation. The smallest, most vulnerable, most disenfranchised, most excluded, most discriminated sectors of the population should remain highest in a leader’s priority and must be protected,” he charged to a loud applause from a full conference.
Mogae further said that laws in many Africa countries dehumanize those at highest risk for HIV, such as sex workers, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgendered people who use drugs, prisoners, and migrants. “Rather than providing protection, these laws render these sections of our societies much more vulnerable to HIV and unnecessary deaths due to AIDS related illnesses,” he said.
The former president further remarked in his long speech that in the African continent, one of the most fundamental ideals they have fought is that of non-discrimination on grounds of skin colour, religious orientation and other beliefs.
“We uphold these beliefs passionately, yet ironically, discrimination against LGBT is still upheld and justified by our nations and their laws. As champions for an AIDS Free Generation, we have written and appealed to the leaders in these countries to consider their positions and rights of LGBT, and we will continue our advocacy until justice for all is attained,” Mogae said to the applause of the audience.
The champions for AIDS Free Generation Programme is chaired by Mogae and is committed to speaking out strongly against discrimination of all groups, especially that of LGBT.
“Same sex sexual activity, the most basic right, is now legal in 25 countries in Africa. For the rest of our countries it is punishable by imprisonment of differing periods up to life and going as far as the death penalty,” he said.
South Africa is the most progressive country in Africa in all LGBT rights laws. In the Southern African region, which is the most affected by AIDS, only three countries do not criminalize same sex sexual activity for both men and women. In four countries it is not criminalized for women only while it is in the remainder criminalized for both sexes.
When he took over the podium, Ban ki-Moon pushed for equal rights for the community and urged governments to end discrimination.
Echoing the motto of the sustainable development goal 'Leaving No One Behind', Ban ki-Moon said this guiding vision could be reached only if everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender entity is reached out to. "In too many countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are among the poorest, most marginalized members of society," he said.
In Botswana gay and lesbian people suffer disproportionate discrimination and abuse. They are rejected by their families… kicked out of their homes … and face hard times at schools.
“Too many of our LGBT brothers and sisters are jobless, homeless and struggling to survive," the secretary general said.
The situation of transgender people is even worse overall, Ban ki-Moon said. "They have higher rates of homelessness, poverty and hunger. For individuals and their families, this is a personal tragedy. And for society, it is a shameful waste of human talent, ingenuity and economic potential," he added.
Botswana did not mention anything about LGBT rights at the UN despite this being a divisive issue in the country and internationally. The government has lost a court case in which these groups wanted to register as an organization.
The president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe created a furore at the Assembly on Monday when he exclaimed: "we are not gays!" to the applause of his African counterparts.
"We equally reject attempts to prescribe new rights that are contrary to our norms, values, traditions and beliefs. We are not gays. Cooperation and respect for each other will advance the cause of human rights worldwide. Confrontation, vilification and double standards will not," he said at the GA.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.