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Khama won’t sign SADC gender protocol

Despite the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Developments (SGP) reaching closure, President Lt Gen Ian Khama is still not keen to sign the protocol and adhere to its conditions.

The (SGP) which calls on SADC member states to empower women, eliminate discrimination, and achieve gender equality and equity will lapse in September 2015.

Khama who was recently appointed deputy Chairperson of SADC deputising Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, has long argued that the protocol timeframe was unrealistic. Botswana, which houses the SADC headquarters has not yet signed nor ratified the protocol.

It has now proved that efforts made by Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisation (BOCONGO)’s gender sector to lobby President Khama to sign the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development have not been successful.

“Since the endorsement of the protocol we have been advocating through forums and engaging Botswana government appealing to it to sign the protocol, but our efforts turned fruitless,” explained BOCONGO Executive Director Bagaisi Mabilo in an interview.

Mabilo explained that the government through the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu revealed that their decision was final Botswana will not engage in the protocol assignation.

She expressed that despite reports which indicate Botswana’s good performance on gender issues, there are pertinent burning issues of gender affliction in Batswana. Mabilo stressed that signing the protocol could have legally forced the government to improve on the gaps.

In August 2008, heads of state of SADC agreed on a legally binding instrument for achieving gender equality in the form of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development (SGP). The SGP has 28 targets to be achieved by 2015, also the deadline for the eight targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Out of the 15 SADC countries Botswana and Mauritius were only two States that did not sign the SADC Gender Protocol.

The protocol’s objectives compelled member states to provide for the empowerment of women, to eliminate discrimination and achieve gender equality and equity through the development and implementation of gender responsive legislation, policies, programmes and projects. It also called for them to harmonize the implementation of various instruments to which SADC member states have subscribed to at the regional, continental and international level on gender equality and equity. To address emerging gender issues and concerns and also to set realistic, measurable targets, time frames and indicators for achieving gender equality and equity.

Refusing to sign the protocol according to the 2012 Botswana Gender Protocol Barometer, Khama argued that mandatory language used in crafting most of the clauses that Botswana considers critical and that some of the timeframes were unrealistic. He criticized that some of the measures have serious resource implications that Botswana cannot guarantee.

“Other international instruments allow member states to sign and register their reservations on clauses that they are uncomfortable with. This option was not available to Botswana since the SADC Treaty does not allow for adoption of any Protocols with reservations,” argued Khama.

Khama also complained that there is discomfort on the provisions around widows as he stated that it does not apply to Botswana.

Despite refusing to sign the protocol Khama emphasized that Botswana identifies with it and is committed to the objectives of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development highlighting that the country’s policies and programmes as well as resources allocated to the sector demonstrate that and will continue to do so.

“Botswana has fulfilled most of the requirements in legislative reform as well as socio-economic policies.  This is demonstrated largely by the increasing numbers of women, both in government and the private sector who hold executive, director and ambassadorial positions,” Khama was previously quoted in media reports.

Gender Links Botswana’s country manager, Gomolemo Rasesigo has rubbished Botswana’s reasons for not signing the protocol and criticized that the country not signing the protocol would lead to it being left behind in issues of gender developments while other signatory countries are close that gap.

Rasesigo thrashed claims by Botswana government that they are aligned to the objectives of the protocol. She also complained that Batswana women are still subjected to gender problems. Rasesigo argues that there is still more to be done to assist women and it could only be achieved if Botswana is legally bound to the protocol objectives

She quoted Article 12 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which states that “States Parties shall endeavor that, by 2015, at least 50 per cent of decision-making positions in the public and private sectors are held by women including the use of affirmative action measures as provided for in Article 5.”  
Rasesigo argued that SADC member states that have signed the protocol are reaching above the target of 50 percent whilst Botswana currently trails at below 30 percent.

Currently the member states are running their 15 districts level summits (DLSs) taking place in Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The DLSs present an opportunity for the countries to take stock of the progress made in attaining gender equality at the local level. After the district summits the countries hold their national summits before the SADC regional summit.

Councils from the SADC countries have committed to the Centres of Excellence (COE) for Gender in Local Government Programme. It is underscored that the councils have developed gender action plans aligned to the 28 targets of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development that is also aligned to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which both close at the end of this year (2015).

Botswana is also moving on with its district level summits, which are being held respectively in all districts of the country. The country’s national summits are scheduled to be held in Gaborone. For the first time the SADC regional summit will be held in Botswana alongside the 35th SADC Heads of State summit in the same year.

All the summits are reported to form part of a larger campaign led by the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance to strengthen the SADC Gender Protocol in line with the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) of the post 2015 agenda that will come into effect later this year.  The Alliance has a mandate to lobby for the protocol and also monitors for its implementation by members that have signed and ratified the protocol.

Rasesigo complained that it was a shame that that Botswana as regional host of the SADC summit have not signed the protocol.

WeekendPost understands that as the 28 targets of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development lapse in 2015 the targets will have to be reviewed in line with those of the Sustainable Development Goals for the post 2015 gender agenda of 2030.

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Details emerge in suspected Batswana poachers in Namibia

28th June 2022
suspected Motswana poacher arrested

New details about a suspected Motswana poacher arrested in Namibian and his accomplice who is on the run were revealed when the suspect appeared in court this week.

The Motswana Citizen who was shot and wounded by Namibia’s anti poaching unit is facing criminal charges under criminal case number (CR NO 10/06/2022) which was registered at the Divundu Police Station in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East Region on 10 June 2022.

It is alleged that a patrol team laid an ambush after discovering a giraffe’s fresh carcass in a snare wire and hanging biltong.  According to the Charge Sheet, the suspect Djeke Dihutu, aged 40 years, is charged with contravening and transgressions of Nature Conservation Ordinance andcontravening Immigration Act 07 in Mahango Wildlife Core Area, Bwabwata National Park. Dihutu’s first court appearance was on the 17th of June 2022, Rundu and it was postponed to the 07 July 2022. He is currently hospitalized in hospital under Police Guards.

Commenting on this latest development, the Namibian Lives Matter Movement National Chairperson Sinvula Mudabeti applauded the Namibian Anti Poaching Unit for its compliance with what it called the universal instrument on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/169.

“We are aware that the duties of the police carry a great deal of risk, but our police has shown that they have a moral calling and obligation to protect even foreigners suspected of serious crimes on Namibian soil,” said Mudabeti.

According to him, whereas the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) have “very low moral ethics, integrity, accountability and honesty, the Namibian security agencies has shown very high levels of ethical leadership in the discharge of their duties even under duress.”

He said Namibian’s anti poaching unit has exercised one very important value, that is, the use of force only when it is reasonable and necessary. Mudabeti said this is in harmony with international best practices as enshrined in Article 2 of the UN instrument on law enforcement conduct, “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.

Our police have protected the life of a Botswana poacher and accorded him dignity, which is very foreign to our Botswana counterparts,” he said. He said article 3 of the same instrument above, calls for Law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

“This provision emphasizes that the use of force by law enforcement officials should be exceptional; while it implies that law enforcement officials may be authorized to use force as is reasonably necessary under the circumstances for the prevention of crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of suspected offenders, no force going beyond that was used by our Police,” he said.

Furthermore, Mudabeti said, whereas the universally accepted norm of the law of proportionality ordinarily permits the use of force by law enforcement, it is to be understood that such principles of proportionality in no case should be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved.

“Our police have used force proportional to the situation at hand. Great work indeed! Article 6 urges law enforcement officials to ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required,” he said.

Mudabeti said the Botswana poacher was immediately taken to hospital whereas the Nchindo brothers who were captured on Namibian soil, beaten, tortured and executed while pleading to be taken to the hospital we left to die.

“The Namibian Doctor gave evidence in court that Sinvula Munyeme’s lungs showed signs of life (during the autopsy) and that he could have survived if he was accorded immediate medical assistance in time but was left to die while BDF soldiers looked and possibly ignored his cry for help,” he said.

Mudabeti said unlike in Botswana where there are no clear separation of powers between the BDF, Botswana Police Service, Department of Intelligence and their Directorate of Public Prosecutions,” we have a system that allows for checks and balances and allows our people and foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law to be accorded the right to a fair trial.”

He said Botswana citizens are treated with dignity when apprehended in Namibia and not assaulted, tortured and executed. “We are a civilized country that respects international law in dealing with non-Namibian criminals. The Namibian Police have not mistreated the Botswana poacher but have given him the benefit of the doubt by allowing due processes of the law to be followed,” he said.

He added that, “We are a peace loving nation that has not repaid Botswana by the evil that Botswana has done to Namibia by killing more than 37 innocent and unarmed Namibians by the trigger happy BDF.” He concluded that, “Our acts of mercy in arresting Botswana citizens should never be mistaken for cowardice.”

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Gov’t, Unions clash over accommodation

28th June 2022

The government has reportedly taken a decision to terminate provision of pool housing and subsidy for civil servants as it attempts to trim the public service wage bill.

This emerges in a dispute that is currently before the Labour Office headquarters lodged by unions representing thousands of civil servants across the country. This publication understands that the decision to cease providing pool housing and rental subsidy for public officers is part of proposals that government put on the table during its negotiations with public service unions in order for it to adjust salaries.

A letter from Labour Office addressed to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) shows that the directorate is cited as the First Respondent. The letter is titled, “Dispute lodged: Cessation of provision of pool housing and subsidy for pubic officers.”

“This serves as a notification and requirement to a mediation hearing,” the letter informed DPSM. According to the letter, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Land Board &Local Authorities &Health workers Union (BLLAHW) who lodged the complaint are cited as the Applicant.

“Please come for mediation hearing. The hearing will be conducted by Mr Lebang. The hearing is scheduled for date/time 29th June 2022, 09: 00HOURS at Block 8 District Labour Office, Gaborone. Please bring all relevant documents,” reads the letter in part.

According to a document described as a proposal paper on the negotiations on salaries and other conditions of employment of public officers by the employer (government), the government did not only propose to stop providing accommodation to civil servants but also put a number of proposals on the table.

The proposal papers states that the negotiations (which have since been concluded) cover three government financial years; 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. The government proposed an across the board salary adjustments as follows; 3% for the financial year 2022/23 effective 1st April 2022, across the board salary adjustment of 3.5% for the financial year 2023/24 effective 1st April 2023 subject to performance of the economy and across the board salary adjustment of 4% for the financial year 2024/25 effective 1st April 2024 subject to performance of the economy.

The government also proposed phasing out of retention and attractive (Scarce Skills) Allowance with a view to migration towards clean pay, renegotiate and set new timelines for all outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement, executed by the employer and trade unions on the 27th August 2019, to ensure proper sequencing, alignment and proper implementation.
The government also proposed to freeze public service recruitment for the 2022/23 financial year and withdraw the financial equivalence of P500 million attached to vacancies from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

Another proposal included phasing out of commuted overtime allowance and payment of overtime in accordance with the law and review human resource policies during the financial year 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The government argued that its proposals were premised on affordability and sustainability adding that it was important to underscore that the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers was taking place at a time when there were uncertainties both in the global and domestic economies.

“Furthermore there is need to ensure that any collective labour agreement that is concluded does not breach the fiscal deficit target of 4% of GDP,” the proposal paper stated. The proposal paper further indicated that beyond salary adjustments, the Government of Botswana is of the view that a more comprehensive consideration “must be taken on the issue of remuneration in the public service by embracing principles such as total rewards compensation which involves taking a fully comprehensive and holistic approach to how our organization compensates employees for the work.”

The proposal paper also noted that, “Clearly, the increase in salaries and changes to other conditions of service which have monetary consequences will further increase the proportion of the budget taken by salaries, allowances and other monetary based conditions of services.”

“The consequential effect would be a reduction of the portion that can be used for other recurrent budget needs (e.g. maintenance of assets, consumable supplies such as medicines and books) and for development projects,” the proposal states.

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BPF NEC probes Serowe squabbles

28th June 2022

Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee will in no time investigate charges party members worked with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) membership to tip the scales in favour of the latter for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship in exchange for deputy seat in a dramatic 11th hour gentleman’s deal, leaving the ruling party splinter under the political microscope.

In a spectacular Sub-council election membership last Thursday, the ruling BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego beat Atamelang Thaga with 14 votes to 12 for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship coveted seat and subsequently the ruling party’s councilor Bernard Kenosi withdrew his candidacy in the final hour for the equally admired deputy chair paving the way for Solomon Dikgang of BPF, seen as long sealed ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ gentleman’s agreement between the contenders.

Both parties entered the race with a tie of votes torn between 12 councillors each, translating for election race that will go down to the wire definitely. But that will not be the case as two BPF councilors shifted their allegiance to the ruling party during the first race for Chairmanship held in a secret ballot and no sooner was the election concluded then the ruling party answered back by withdrawing its candidacy for the deputy chair position to give BPF’s Dikgang the post on a silver platter unopposed.

BPF councilor Vuyo Notha confirmed the incident in an interview on Wednesday, insisting the party NEC was determined to “investigate the matter soon”. “During the race for the Chairmanship, two more BPF voted for alongside the ruling party membership. It was clear Dikgang voted alongside the BDP as immediately after the vote for Chairmanship was concluded, Kenosi withdraw his candidacy to render Dikgang unopposed as a payback,” Notha added.

As for the other vote, Makolo ward councilor will not be drawn for the identity preferring instead to say: “BPF NEC will convene all the councilors to investigate the matter soon and we will take from there.” Notha will also not be drawn to conclude may be the culprit councilors could have defected to the ruling party silently.

“If they are no longer part of us they should say so and a by-election be called,” was all he could say. As it stands now, the law forbids sitting Councilors and Parliamentarians from crossing the floor to another party as to do so will immediately invite for a new election as dictated by the law. Incumbent politicians will therefore dare not venture for the unknown with a by-election that could definitely cost their political life and certainly their full benefits.

Notha could also not be dragged to link the culprit councilors actions to BPF Serowe region Chairperson Tebo Thokweng who has silently defected to the ruling party and currently employed by the party businessman and former candidate for Serowe West Moemedi Dijeng as PRO for the highly anticipated cattle abattoir project in Serowe.

“As for Thokweng he has not resigned from the party but from the region’s chairmanship,” he said. WeekendPost investigations suggest Thokweng is the secret snipper behind the recruitment drive of the votes for the elections and is determined to tear the party dominance in Serowe and the neighbouring villages asunder including in Palapye going forward.

This publication’s investigations also show BPF’s Radisele and UDC’s Mokgware/Mogome councilors are under the radar of investigations for the votes-themselves associated with the workings and operations of Thokweng.

“NEC will definitely leave no stone unturned with their investigations to get into the bottom of the matter. Disciplinary actions will follow certainly,” Notha concluded, underscoring the need to toe the party line to set a good precedent. For the youthful councilor, the actions of his peers has set a wrong precedent which has to be dealt with seriously to deter future culprits.

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