Connect with us

Govt appeals homosexuals court victory

Minister of Labour & Home Affairs: Edwin Batshu

After being listed as the international highlight of 2014 in a report by the United Nations Special Rappoteur recapping “monumental” events for 2014, LEGABIBO-the country’s gay and lesbian group’s landmark victory has forced the Government to seek alternative ways to plead with the courts to reverse the unwanted group’s victory.

Government filed the appeal during the festive break, protesting the November high court ruling that the government had acted unconstitutionally in blocking LEGABIBO registration.The Botswana Penal Code describes homosexual acts as offences against morality.

Justice Terrence Rannowane declared that the 20 applicants were entitled to assemble and associate under the name and style of LEGABIBO, further adding that the organisation was entitled to be registered as a society.

 "In a democratic society such as ours, freedom of association, assembly and expression are important values duly protected by our Constitution. The enjoyment of such rights can only be limited where such limitation is reasonably justified in a democracy. It is also not a crime to be a homosexual," said Justice Rannowane.

"Refusal to register LEGABIBO was not reasonably justifiable under the Constitution. It violated the applicants' rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly as enshrined under Sections 3, 12 and 13 of the Constitution of Botswana," said the judge.

In their grounds of appeal, the Government says that the courts erred in fact by finding that they (Government) conceded to LEGABIBO being entitled to protection in several sections of the Constitution of Botswana.

“Whether or not LEGABIBO exists as a class of persons who are so entitled was an entirely legal question to be determined by the courts, and government’s affidavit only sought to justify an infringement of any of LEGABIBO’s rights’ provided they were found to be entitled to them,” reads the application.

The AG argues that the court erred in law and misdirected itself by recognising that the application ‘bore all the hallmarks of a review application’ but proceeded to determine it as an application brought under section 18 of the constitution. Applications under the same section, they argue, are brought under order 70 of the high court rules, and the arguments which are allowed under the two types of application are vastly different.

“We understood the matter to be a common law review application and were prejudiced in argument as a result of the court adopting this unprecedented and conflated procedure,” argues AG.

The government further finds fault with the courts saying they made a mistake in fact and in law by finding that LEGABIBO had made out a case for common law review application, further adding that no grounds necessary for establishing a common law review application were alleged in the founding affidavit. “The court erred by allowing LEGABIBO to argue grounds of review which it had not pleaded in its founding papers,” they say in their court papers.

The government further states that the court erred when applying the test of Wednesbury unreasonableness on the judgement. The scope of enquiry should have been whether a reasonable decision maker similarly positioned, would come to a similar conclusion.

“The court instead considered whether the government decision was reasonable/correct to the court, which constitutes an undue interference of the Minister’s discretion to make the decision in question. The court turned itself into the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, which is impermissible,” charges the AG.

The court, the AG says, failed to consider that a reasonable decision maker similarly positioned, may conclude that the registration and consequent activities of LEGABIBO may lead to popularization of acts criminalised at section 164 and 167 of the penal code.

“The court failed to consider that a reasonable decision maker may find the registration of the society to be repugnant to the provisions of these written laws,” argues AG who continued that the court erred concluding that the objects of LEGABIBO would not run contrary to ‘good order’ as described in the Society Act.

The government further says the court erred in finding that ‘homosexuals exist as a class of persons entitled to protection in the constitution, adding that they (Government) were not entirely incorrect when they said persons of homosexual nature are not recognised in the Constitution as the court in the case of KANANE V.THE STATE had rule.

The Government further charges that ‘the court erred in finding that homosexual persons are included within the definition of the word ‘persons in section 3,7, and 13 of the constitution’.

Then court is accused of having sidelined other pronouncement of the court of appeal, particularly the KANANE V.THE STATE 2003.Ther court they say should have considered itself bound to this decision of the Court of Appeal. The group had already re-applied for registration after winning a case which the government is now appealing.

Continue Reading


ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

Continue Reading


Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

Continue Reading


Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

Continue Reading