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Language politics excludes other

Botswana nationals who cannot speak neither Setswana nor English languages are excluded from important national surveys including democracy meters which are usually conducted by the Afrobarometer.

Professor Mogopodi Lekorwe in the department of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Botswana says the researchers are limited by the country’s policy which specifies two official languages of communication in the country. English and Setswana are the countries official languages.

Lekorwe admits that the language barrier is likely to keep out other tribes who speak different languages other than the two to participate in the surveys.

“Language is a political issue and there is no way we can go to the office of the President with a questionnaire translated into a language that has not been sanctioned by the authority,” Lekorwe explained.

He was actually responding to a question during a media briefing on the findings of round 5 of the Afrobarometer survey on Wednesday this week in Gaborone. Concerns were raised that the 1 200 individuals’ views could not possibly reflect that of the whole nation which has a population of just over two Million people.

However Lekorwe contended that although the number may appear to be small, the interviews were conducted in different parts of the country including the rural, semi-rural and urban area so as to get diverse views.

“A person who cannot speak either one of the official languages is eliminated from the interview,” Lekorwe further added.

He however explained that the survey would only include other indigenous languages if the government becomes liberal on what people can do with their language “as we go on, then we can include other languages in the interviews.”

The country’s constitution provides that no person shall be discriminated along tribal lines, but it does not talk about the language issue. In fact it is the same constitution that proclaims that the country’s official languages would be Setswana and English as the two languages are widely spoken around the country.

Lekorwe says if the interviews are to be made or translated into local languages, then it would have a direct implication on who to employ and that could violate the constitution that embraces the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. These fundamental rights are articulated as freedom of expression, assembly and association.

The Afrobarometer conducts face to face interviews in the language of the respondents’ choice, but limited to Setswana and English, with nationally representative samples of between 1 200 and 2 400 respondents. It does surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related issues across more than thirty countries in Africa.

Five rounds of surveys were conducted between 1999 and 2013 and round six is currently under way for 2014-2015. However none of the studies has so far included people who cannot speak the country’s official languages.

The language issue was raised at the media briefing, a few days after the former Speaker of Parliament; Margaret Nasha expressed concern at the continued reluctance by government to introduce indigenous language at primary schools so as to help young children grasp the education curriculum faster.

Nasha was speaking at a cultural night organised by Botswana Sector of Educators Union (BOSETU) in Gaborone recently.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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