The United States (US) government has through its Charge’d’ Affaires to Botswana, Michael Murphy, hailed the High Court for overturning the Botswana government’s attempts to prevent homosexuals, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGAGIBO) from registering as a society.
Two years ago, LEGAGIBO’s application for registration was rejected by the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs on basis that homosexuality was illegal in Botswana. But much to their relief after dragging the state to courts, Justice Tebogo Rannowane of the Gaborone High Court recently ruled in LEGAGIBO’s favour and ordered the government to register the group.
Speaking at a New Direction in Global Health seminar held in Maun, Murphy applauded the High Court verdict, overturning the government’s ban on LEGAGIBO, explaining that the group had been unable to register and be recognised as a legitimate organisation in the country.
He stated that the High Court’s decision had sent an important message that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, should have the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly in a democratic society.
The US envoy called for an end to political environments contributing to stigma and discrimination against various minority groups across the the globe, saying through the courage of civil society organisations like LEGAGIBO and the boldness of the judiciary, things were beginning to change.
He also stated that for effective HIV prevention activities for key populations which, he said includes bisexual groups, need to take place in parallel with efforts to tackle the underlying social drivers of the epidemic, including stigma, legal barriers and social and gender norms.
“I know that these are uncomfortable topics for some people, but they are also important public health issues, and they cannot be isolated from the broader HIV public health challenge,” Murphy stressed.
New Direction in Global Health is a newly launched initiative by the US government through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). It is a series of road-show seminars that bring public health experts together with district stakeholders outside Gaborone and Botswana media to exchange information on the research, best practices and successes in the response to HIV and other global health concerns in Botswana.
It is also aimed at persuading key policy makers at the district level to increase their commitment and coordination in the response to HIV and other global health issues.
The seminars are held in partnership with the District Multi-Sect oral AIDS Committees and the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA Botswana).
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.