Human rights organisations, the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) and Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) have not taken kindly to the position and remarks uttered by Evangelist Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) and their attitude towards minority group of gays and lesbians.
Recently the church umbrella body, EFB, has been lobbying the government of Botswana to appeal a High Court ruling that ordered the gay organisation to legally register. However the government did not appeal the matter during the stipulated time given by the courts to do so.
LEGABIBO went to court following the registration rejection by the department of Civil and National Registration under the auspices of Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs under the pretext that homosexuality is unlawful in Botswana. Consequently, LEGABIBO went to court for intervention – and court ruled in favour of the gay movement.
The church movement has since poured scorn at the court judgement arguing that ordering the registration of LEGABIBO whose objects are to advocate for recognition and protection of homosexuality is a hammer to the society’s moral conscience, adding that “the judgment is likely to cause a spin in an acceleration of moral deterioration and moral bankruptcy which will add to the already burden of lawlessness and social ills in our society.”
In response BONELA and LEAGABIBO this week fumed at the church movement during an interview with the WeekendPost. They stated that, “EFB should not and must not be allowed to dictate or influence who can or cannot be registered with the registrar of societies.” The two human rights organisations argue that LEGABIBO were applicants just like any other body that wanted to register.
“The moment EFB is allowed to do so; we can all kiss our freedoms goodbye because we will wake up to the entire nation being run by a certain church denomination.” They continued: “should this happen, we are at the risk of having institutions that are different to them being outlawed; it could be a church that does not fall under their church body or an organisations that deals with women rights, any religion outside its belief being banned in Botswana and certain constitutional provisions stricken out.”
LEGABIBO Coordinator, Caine Youngman urged all Batswana to respect each other and to respect rights provided for by the Constitution. He referred the EFB ‘for their convenience,’ to the constitutional provisions of Section 13 which provides for the protection of freedom of assembly and association, Section 12 which provides for the protection of freedom of expression and also Section 15 which provides for protection from discrimination.
According to LEGABIBO Coordinator, Botswana is a constitutionally run sovereign state and its sovereignty trickles down to individual autonomy of every Motswana hence all are recognised as individuals. “Every Motswana is protected and respected before the law,” he told this publication, adding that respect before the law means one has the platform to point out where he/she thinks he has been hurt or prejudiced.
“The lesbians, gays and bisexuals of Botswana did just that. The registrar of societies denied this community their constitutional right to associate and they pointed it out. The High Court of Botswana following the law, agreed with these Batswana. The ruling was that this community has the right to associate as provided by the Constitution of Botswana. The Constitution of Botswana has made provisions that are to be respected and adhered to for peace, tolerance and justice.”
Youngman attacked the EFB saying they are toying around with such provisions and highlighted that EFB is a body that followed the same processes LEGABIBO engaged with to get registered. “They used the same legal provisions to register as a way to exercise their freedom of association.”
The gay organisation lamented that it is hypocrisy for EFB to then turn around and call for LEGABIBO not to be registered considering they benefitted from the same provision.
BONELA and LEGABIBO reminded EFB that there are people who do not believe in the existence of EFB, its mandate and its practices but they all respect their existence because they have a right to associate despite being different from them.
Some of people are from traditional churches, some spiritual, and some are non-Christian believers but they tolerate EFB’s existence not because they agree with them, but merely because it is EFB’s right to associate with like minded people.
According to the two human rights organisations, the difference between the Constitution and EFB is that the constitution caters for everybody – be it a Muslims, Catholics, Zion followers, non religious person, gay, heterosexual, worker, student, children, senior citizens etc. As long as one is a human being in Botswana, they contend the Constitution applies to them. However, they highlighted that same cannot be said about EFB as it only caters for those who associate themselves with EFB.
EFB is an Umbrella body of Evangelical, Pentecostal and Para Church organizations in the country that has a membership denomination currently standing at seventy nine.
BONELA and LEGABIBO believe that if we start singling out who can be protected by our laws and who cannot, who has the right to be heard and who doesn’t, who has the rights to express themselves and who doesn’t, then we are making ourselves vulnerable to all sorts of abuses by overzealous bodies.
“Since it is not your liberties at stake it might seem okay. Today they are calling for LEGABIBO not to be registered. Tomorrow it will be you and those you peacefully associate with. The question to all of us is ‘who is next on their hit list?’ Will it be radio stations because they are said to be playing ‘ungodly music?” or who, they asked.
Meanwhile LEGABIBO Coordinator confirmed that his organisation has submitted all the documentation necessary to process their registration and now awaiting respond from the department (Civil and National registration).
LEGABIBO is a human rights organisation whose mandate is to represent the interests and protect the rights of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex community in Botswana while BONELA is a non-governmental organisation committed to integrating an ethical, legal and human rights approach into Botswana’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.