No free ARV for foreign prisoners 7 months after judgment
The government continues to deny foreign prisoners free access to anti retroviral drugs (ARVs) despite a court order that ruled against such a conduct seven months ago.
The government through the Attorney General’s (AG) office, which is the legal advisor to the President filed fresh opposing papers to court this week that the government would not comply with the court order which was issued last year August in Gaborone because it has since appealed against the judgement.
The AG office acted following a new application by some foreign prisoners demanding that they be given the life saving medication.
The decision by the government to refuse to provide the foreign prisoners with ARVs was declared invalid by Justice Bengbame Sechele last August after two Zimbabwean nationals, currently incarcerated at the Gaborone prisons for various crimes took the matter to court.
When making the judgement, Sechele made several findings in support of the rationality and importance of ARV treatment. He declared that the denial of free medication was not only a violation of the prisoners’ rights as enshrined in the country’s constitution, but poses danger to the very citizen inmates the government has tried to protect.
“Against the above a catch 22 situation arises as the non treatment of non citizen prisoners poses danger to the very citizen inmates the respondents have tried so hard to protect,” pointed out Sechele then. He further ruled that it was a breach of duty owed to the prisoners by the government to be provided with basic health care services.
The contention was that the government’s indifference towards the medical needs of prisoners can amount to torture and implied that the state was impermissibly withholding medication as a form of extra punishment for foreign inmates.
The government was therefore ordered to enrol prisoners whose CD4 cell count had dropped and reached the threshold for ARV enrolment under the treatment guidelines.
Nonetheless the government has to date not honoured the ruling as it still believe it has to limit the rights of foreigners in as far as access to free medication and other services are concerned due to budgetary constraints. Meanwhile the prisoners who are represented by the Botswana Network on Law and AIDS (BONELA) would be aiming to get the government to pronounce as to what weight budgetary considerations should play in the assessment of this case.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.