Fake news have caused chaos in the just ended 2019 General Elections and left an egg on the face of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). IEC operates under the auspices of Office of the President (OP), which is under the grip of the governing party, an interested player in the elections of Botswana.
The recent elections have raised questions of integrity and its outcome remains in doubt from certain quarters especially opposition political parties. This led to numerous election protests in IEC, which had tussled in court following petitions and appeals from opposition parties. The election disputes saw 24 petitions lodged with the High Court, in which two were withdrawn before hearing, 15 petitions were dismissed on preliminary points of law while seven progressed to trial.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Kabo Morwaeng had told Parliament that subsequently 14 were later dismissed at Court of Appeal which was said to not have jurisdiction over National Assembly election petitions. IEC has ascribed and attributed these election protests and prevailing state of affairs to fake news era and abuse of social media by among others, media and the public.
IEC Spokesperson Osupile Maroba told WeekendPost that elections are very sensitive and are conducted in accordance with strict compliance to the electoral laws, and therefore any single occurrence of publication of fake news could have far reaching implications. “The disinformation and fake news perpetuated the already existing perceptions on the integrity of the IEC. The public subscribe to what they read on social media and any news, fake or authentic, is considered as the truth by those who read them and influence their response,” he pointed out.
According to Maroba, some of the common fake news during elections included announcing wrong opening and closing polling hours, declaring winning candidates before conclusion of counting, using it to confirm to their candidates or agents that they have voted for and false declaration of polling day prior to issuance of the writs of elections. “These fake news compromised the integrity of the electoral process and further confused the public,” he decried.
He continued to restrain social media users to exercise caution when discussing sensitive processes, while adding that disinformation through fake news may lead to sensationalization of issues and trigger election instability in the country. Meanwhile Leader of Opposition Dumelang Saleshando also expressed his worry in Parliament immediately after last elections that fake news and foul language dominated social media from all quarters.
“You will agree with me that to describe the 2019 elections using phrases like political maturity, tolerance, respect for one another and peace smacks of denialism,” he asserted. According to Saleshando even intraparty contests leading to the national elections were characterised by intense friction leading to court interventions, with some losers being labelled Manyasa after many years of loyal service to the country. “The first election under the leadership of President Masisi has brought to the fore, the weaknesses of our system and how it can be abused for electoral gains,” the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Vice President asserted.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.