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Dikgosi must enjoy equal status at Ntlo Ya Dikgosi Study

Members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi

The National Vision 2016 Council has put the mother tongue issue on its agenda and intends to facilitate development of an overarching national language policy  that would probably see the introduction of teaching in the vernacular in local schools and introduction of community radio stations.


In a mission to ensure that Botswana would be a tolerant nation by the year 2016 (next year), the Council has expressed its wish for the government to embrace other local languages in consonance with the ideals of the European Union (EU).


“Botswana is still to introduce teaching in mother tongue or language in the schools. This continues to be seen as some form of intolerance in certain quarters, especially among the minority groups who feel marginalised by government,” a draft report from the council on the matter has revealed.


The  report suggests that the council was mandated in a recent workshop with stakeholders to establish incentives for Batswana to speak at least one other local language over and above their mother tongue and therefore the introduction of teaching in local languages in schools would be a step in that direction.


Another mandate was for the Council to lobby for different Languages to be used in local publications.


“In the same way, there is still no room for ethnic languages in both public and private media and still no community radio stations to promote the different ethnic cultures and languages,” the report further reads in part.
The Council comes to a close next year September and by then it hopes to have achieved pillar number six which calls for a moral and tolerant nation.


The general view is that the current regime has been running an exclusive government which discriminates ethnic groups and their languages for close to five decades. The findings were not only made by the Council  but another independent body, the  Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) which says the unequal treatment of ethnicities is a creature of the country’s constitution.


According to BIDPA, the reforms to section 77, 78 and 79 of the constitution which were done at the begining of the Millenium did not go far enough. Suggestions were raised that Dikgosi from different ethnic groups must enjoy equal status at Ntlo ya Dikgosi and that other languages must be recognised and be introduced in elementary education.


Sections 77, 78 and 79 of the constitution recognised eight tribes as the major tribes and the rest were not given the similar status and were not even represented at Ntlo ya Dikgosi (House of chiefs). The eight tribes included, Bakgatla, Bakwena, Bangwato, Bangwaketse, Balete, Barolong, Bahurutshe and Batawana.This arrangement was perceived as discriminatory and the constitution was amended during president Festus Mogae’s tenure to do away with the discriminative sections.


The population of Botswana is divided into the main ethnic groups of Tswana people (79%), Kalanga people (11%), and Basarwa (or Bushmen) (3%) and the the remaining 7% consist of other ethnic groups including some speaking the Kgalagadi language, and 1% of non-African people.


In its 2014 report tittled, Elections and the Management of Diversity in Botswana, BIDPA revealed that the general view in the country is that the country constitution is very discriminatory and Batswana in general are not happy with it.


Botswana is a constitutional democracy with the constitution having been adapted from great Britain at independence in 1966. The constitution is generally respected and regarded by all citizens as the supreme law of the country and the country continues to use strictly two official languages, Setswana and English.


On a global basis however the country is generally rated highly in terms of tolerance for diversity and acceptance of differences between people, their religion, language, political affiliation and ethnic background but both BIDPA and the Vision 2016 Council agrees that the issue of language remains and perhaps needs to be discussed further for the nation to reach a consensus.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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