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Family is a fading institution in Botswana – study


Family is a fading institution in Botswana and arguments relating to its death are centered on high rates of divorce, low rates of marriage and the high rate of cohabitation. Domestic violence is also said to be among the threats to the institution in the country.


According to a recent study titled “Botswana at cross roads; family and marriage, has the vision 2016 target met?” Botswana is plunged with polygamy, child marriages and the small house syndrome and apparently does not have a clear family policy addressing all family related issues which are widespread in the country.


In addition, the study revealed that working mothers face challenges relating to child care post maternity leave and also as a result childcare assistance needs to be enhanced.


Still with regards to child care, study states that more men are now embracing their family responsibility on the care for the children. “Previously child care was the duty of women. Today more men are willing to change their babies’ diapers,” it says.


An analysis of inter census statistics since 1971 shows a decline in marriage rates from 47.1% among men to 18.8% in 2011, and from 42.9% among women to 17.9%.


“Even though cohabitation increases and seems to define the now Botswana society, and that divorce rates have gone up,” an analysis of marriage statistics reports shows a positive trends where divorced persons ultimately re-marry, accounting for 6.9% in 2001 and 9.5% in 2012.


In addition, an analysis of marriage statistics reports since 2001 shows a positive picture where the crude marriage rate has increased from 4.87 in 2002 to 5.04 in 2012. The highest crude marriage rate was observed in 2007 and 2008 accounting for 5.69 and 5.78 respectively.


According to the study, like families across the world, the institution of family in Botswana has undergone and still undergoes changes. These changes, it says come with the fact that social values, as packages of culture, do change over time. There are considerable concerns about the status of the family since the 1980’s that saw the law reforms committee tasked with the responsibility to look into the family laws.


It points out that Botswana does not have a specific family policy but a number of interrelated instruments as policy measures as far as family formation, strengthening and protection are concerned.


“These include the 1997 National Population Policy (and the revised) which recognize the family as “the basic unit of production and reproduction and the importance of providing it with necessary protection and support to enhance the health and welfare of its members; the marriage Act (2002), this Act outlaws child marriages; the Matrimonial Causes Act (2001) which makes it not easy to dissolve a marriage except under four laid down conditions; and the labour laws which recognize the employees’ family roles by providing for paid maternity leave.”


It is understood that Maternity leave allowance has since been increased to at least 50 percent but government provides 100 percent to civil servants. Leave concession is also said to be accorded to single fathers and mothers. Transfer policy has however been established to deal with family problems arising from spouses living further apart from each other due to employment commitments.


“There has also been law reforms around the family. These include the Affiliation Proceedings Act (1999), Abolition of Marital Power Act (2004), statute Act (2004), Domestic Violence Act (2008) and Married Persons’ Property Act (2014),” study posits.


In terms of counselling, the civil society, traditional rites of passage and churches play major roles in facilitating the strengthening of families by offering pre and on marriage counselling. The research highlights that the Reanyalana government project is said to have gone further to marry members of the society who have been cohabiting.


The study is an evaluation of status of the family in Botswana in light of the Vision 2016 pillar of “a united and proud nation.” It concentrated on trends of marital statuses from marriage registration records and censuses as well as policy and law reforms and impacts on the life of the family in Botswana.


It emphasizes that:“Botswana needs a clear family policy addressing all family related issues including polygamy, child marriage, and small house syndrome which are also rampant in the country.”

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

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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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