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BDP is not anti-workers – Masisi

Vice President Masisi

Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said that government is not anti- workers as demonstrated by its attitude towards civil servants during the economic recession. He explained that Botswana government preserved civil servants’ jobs while other governments in different countries retrenching their employees.

Closing the debate on President Ian Khama’s State of Nation Address this week, Masisi told parliament that government continues to review the terms and conditions of service of civil servants with a view to improve them but noted that this should happen within the confines and limits of the economic performance.

Masisi said it was through government’s efforts in line with the International Labour Organizations (ILO) guidelines and international best practise that unionisation of much of the public service happened for the first time.

“Let parliament know that past transgressions from both sides have come and passed and now we offer to workers of Botswana a new deal- let us engage with mutual respect and work together to serve our nation,” he said.

Government has had a turbulent relationship with in the workers in the last few years resulting in the infamous 2011 public servants strike in which hundred thousands of employees took to the streets to protest government’s refusal to increase their salaries. In the ensuing circumstances government fired a significant number of employees, who were deemed to have breached their employment contracts.

However, Masisi said that withstanding, unlike many other jurisdictions around the world, including most of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) high income countries, Botswana did not respond to the economic downturn with either mass retrenchments or salary reductions in the public service.

“Instead we chose to protect jobs and cushion the effects of the crisis to Batswana, within our modest means. This underscores this administration’s commitment to upholding the dignity and welfare of its workers.”

Masisi said he is disappointed that Duma Boko, the Leader of Opposition dismissed in his statement the international accolades given to Botswana for good governance when it is clear that the studies are reputable as they rely on surveys of ordinary Batswana as well as domestic and international monitoring. “We want to take us back to the incident dating back to 2009 (Kalafatis murdering) that has long been addressed through the judicial process, and they accuse us of not coming up with nothing new.”

Masisi said he is of the firm believe that the past general elections were free and fair, despite opposition accusing BDP of using government media as a campaign tool. “As a legal professional, he (Boko) knows the legal definitions and framework of “free and fair” but in his submissions fails to elaborate the unfairness of the elections.” Masisi asserted that the international observers and the BDP are content with performance of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).  

The Moshupa-Manyana legislator said almost all MPs in parliament are direct beneficiaries of the exposure they got through the Department of Broadcasting Services prime debates for parliamentary candidates in each constituency. Masisi also argued that the arrangement was done in consultation with all political parties which took part in the general elections.

“I am surprised at the suggestion from some in this house that they did not receive BTV or radio coverage, as I recall seeing and hearing them myself. I wonder if they were confusing BTV and the Daily News for some other media whose political biases throughout the campaign were overt.”

Masisi, who is also the Minister of Education and Skills Development assured opposition MPs that government will work with them in an amicable way and will tolerate their  ideas. He said that is the essence of democracy as it promotes tolerance and appreciation for opposition.

Masisi said opposition MPs have the tendency of overlooking the achievements of the BDP noting that the relocation of De Beers in partnership with Botswana government on diamond aggregation and sales from London to Botswana was a landmark achievement. Masisi said, it is a very complex process but it was carried ahead of schedule. “Such translocation from a developed to a developing world, from northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere remains unparalleled,” he contended.

Masisi also pointed out to the establishment of state-owned Okavango Diamond Company as a commitment to ensure that citizens benefit from the country’s mineral endowment. Masisi also revealed that government through Economic Development Drive (EDD) strategy has produced 28 000 jobs since 2010.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.



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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.


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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.


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