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Khamas 35 proposal for MPs was shot down


President Lt Gen Ian Khama was willing to increase constituency allowance by 35 percent in the last Parliament but these efforts were shot down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) heavyweights who wanted Members of Parliament’s salaries to be addressed holistically.


MPs had complained that their travelling expenses were shooting through the ceiling hence sent a delegation to meet the President on the issue of constituency allowance. They indicated that Ministers were given two vehicles, Prado and the black ministerial vehicles whereas MPs got nothing. They had asked that the Prados be availed to them, but the President was of the view that increasing the constituency allowance could help.


The MPs had pointed out that Ministers are provided with two vehicles, a Toyota Prado Land Cruiser and a BMW to use on official business, therefore raising the need for such privileges to MPs when they go to address their constituents.  


Long-time serving legislators, like Daniel Kwelagobe did not support the piecemeal approach to adjusting MPs salaries and they shot down Khama’s proposal. In a brief interview Kwelagobe confirmed that he was against the approach and preferred a holistic review of Members of Parliament’s welfare especially salaries.


During the current session of Parliament, scores of Members of Parliament (MPs) will in the few coming weeks furnish the new Speaker of the National with a litany of welfare concerns they want addressed during the 11th parliament.


Some of the concerns that will be brought forward to the attention of Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe are understood to be legendary, and were brought before former Speaker Dr Margaret Nasha.


Among the issues which MPs wants to be resolved is the increment of constituency allowances especially for MPs who come from constituencies which are wide in area and require a lot of travelling to cover while addressing constituents.

Constituencies like Okavango, Ngami, Boteti West and Boteti East, Kgalagadi South, Kgalagadi North are amongst those which are not densely populated but are made up of widely dispersed settlements and villages.


In an interview MP for Okavango Bagalatia Arone have been vocal on the matter, says there is need to make improvements to the welfare of MPs in order to allow them to perform their duties effectively and efficiently.


Arone says at the moment the difference between his (Okavango) constituency allowance and a constituency allowance for MPs representing Gaborone constituencies is about P1000, yet as an MP he is expected to drive over 1000 kilometres from Gaborone to reach his constituency, and in addition to that distance he has to traverse the constituency in order to reach out to his constituents.


“We raised these issues to the Speaker of the National Assembly during the 10th parliament and a proposal was sent to Office of the President to make a decision but nothing has materialized yet,” said Arone.


Arone contend that an MP for a nearer and small constituency in terms of area like those in Gaborone will not have to through taxing expenses for him or her to address his or her constituents. The Okavango MP says in their proposal sent to the Office of the President during the last parliament, they made few requests including the option of being given a government vehicle to address their constituents.  


 “We are still to meet with the new Speaker because we do not know her commitment towards these issues. Addressing these concerns will depend on her good will and her attitude towards the issue of an independent parliament.”


Arone says under the current circumstances it is imperative that parliament is given its independence so that it can deliberate on issues of MPs welfare effectively. “We want parliament to prepare its own budget, presented by the Speaker of the National Assembly to parliament and approved by MPs,” stated Arone. Currently parliament budget is prepared by Office of the President and presented before parliament by Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.  


Meanwhile, former Nata/Gweta MP, Reiner Makosha, who was part of the delegation that went to see President Khama over the issue of MPs salaries, said he is aware that the President was willing to help on constituency allowances but other MPs wanted the entire perks reviewed.

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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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