The Government has brushed off a proposal by the civil society over the establishment of a human rights institution and has thus opted to amend the Ombudsman Act to add the human rights element as well as catering for new generation rights.
This is in contravention of what the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) Working Group, comprising of Botswana Council of Non –Governmental organizations (BOCONGO), DITSHWANELO, Kuru Family of Organizations, LeGaBiBo, MISA Botswana and Rainbow Identity Association have been proposing in meetings with the Government.
The Government and the civil society had been working tirelessly behind closed doors to respond to international calls for the production of a Comprehensive Human Rights Strategy and National Action Plan (CHRSNAP). The two however differed on the framework of the institution.
The civil society had proposed a people-centred South African approach where the institution emerges as part of a larger national transition based on meaningful participation of Batswana while the Government has chosen to strengthen the Ombudsman.
The Government had initially sought assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to analyse the Ombudsman Act. The Government was thus advised on establishing a wholly independent institution but chose to stand by the Ombudsman which many have dismissed as a dormant toothless dog.
Khama this week in his State of the Nation Address, said Government is committed to implementing its obligations under the international human rights instruments it is party to, and the promotion of the rights of its citizens.
“We have taken the decision to establish an institution that will address issues of human rights. In this connection, legislation amending the Ombudsman Act and establishing a hybrid institution that will address issues of maladministration and human rights will in the near future be brought to the National Assembly,” he said.
He said that they have decided to develop a Comprehensive Human Rights Strategy and National Action Plan to address the commitments Botswana has undertaken under the various human rights treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Asked what they are amending the Ombudsman, Festinah Bakwena said they are expanding the Ombudsman’s mandate on human rights, further adding that the Ombudsman has been very much focused on administrative justice. “We have been behind and this is a giant step to promote and protect people’s human rights,” she said.
Ditshwanelo public relations officer, Tlatsetso Paline said that the Government, it seems, has taken a different path from what civil society proposed and “there is nothing we can do except to support them.”
The UPR NGO Working Group and other civil society organisations are committed to an NHRI which is an outcome of consultation processes through the CHRSNAP linked to the national development priorities. This, they say, will enable relevance, legitimacy and accountability of the NHRI to the government, institutions, civil society, the public sector and to the people of Botswana, living in both rural and urban areas.
“Once convinced that an inclusive process has preceded the establishment of an institution aimed at addressing priority areas of concern in the country, civil society will be in a better position to engage meaningfully with the NHRI. Only then, can it become an institution truly capable of promoting and protecting human rights, in an accountable and effective manner,” reads the civil society position paper.”â€¨â€¨
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.