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Does the Bogosi Act preserve the primacy of Bogosi? (Part II)

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
Eagle WATCH

Last week, we looked at sections 4, 5, 6, 13, and 15 of the Bogosi Act, Cap. 41:01(‘the Act’) which deal with the definition of the word ‘Kgosi’, recognition of a Kgosi, designation of a Kgosi, removal of a Kgosi, and withdrawal of recognition of a Kgosi respectively.

We should have also discussed section 14. Section 14(1) provides that ‘any person who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Minister deposing or suspending him or her as Kgosi may appeal in writing to the President against the decision within two months of the giving of the decision.’ Section 14(2) provides that ‘an appeal under this section shall not operate as a stay of execution of any order made by the Minister and such order shall be of full force and effect until such time as it is otherwise disposed of on the appeal.’

Though, in our view, it would be in the public interest that an appeal to the President operates as a stay of execution, we do not take serious issue with section 14 since an affected Kgosi can approach the courts for any appropriate relief, including a stay of execution. Last week, we concluded that sections 4, 5, 6, 13, and 15 do not preserve the primacy of Bogosi since they not only diminish Dikgosi’s powers, but also put Bogosi at the risk of politicisation, putting tribal and national harmony at risk.

We recommended that to remedy this defect, the Constitution and/or or the Bogosi Act, preferably the former, needed to be amended to provide for a Bogosi Service Commission (BSC), with powers similar to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).  We suggested that the BSC, whose membership should be largely people knowledgeable on Bogosi and customary or cultural matters, could be vested with the powers to recommend the recognition, discipline (through a Disciplinary Tribunal), suspension, removal or de-recognition of Dikgosi.

In our view, the statutory provisions in this regard could be such that once the BSC makes a certain recommendation, the Minister is compelled to act in accordance with such recommendation in the same manner that the state President is so obliged in the case of judges in terms of section 96(2) of the Constitution of Botswana which provides that “judges of the High Court shall be appointed by the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission”.

Such provisions could, in our view, go a long way towards entrenching Dikgosi’s security of tenure, a cardinal requirement for their independence. We argued that Dikgosi’s independence is cardinal not only because Dikgosi have a judicial function, but also because they should be apolitical since their subjects are of different political persuasions. This week, we consider sections 17(b), 20 and 27 of the Act. Section 17(b) provides that ‘It shall be the function of every Kgosi to carry out any lawful instructions given to him or her by the Minister.’

Some have taken issue with this section, arguing that the Minister may, in terms of this section, give a Kgosi an instruction which, though not unlawful, is inimical to the interests of his or her tribe or Bogosi in general, or is even inconsistent with the provisions of the Act. They argue that considering that the Minister is a politician who belongs to a political party, he or she may use this section to give instructions whose object is to further his or her political party’s interests.

Section 20(1) provides that ‘the Minister may issue directions in writing to any Kgosi, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, for the better carrying out of the provisions of this Act.’ Misgivings about this section have been given for the same reasons as discussed in relation to section 17(b) above. It, however, has to be noted that the Minister cannot give directions which are inconsistent with the provisions of the Act.

In our view, this limitation on the Minister’s powers, just like the limitation at section 17(b), is sufficient to safe guard the rights of Dikgosi, especially because the court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate on disputes thereof is not ousted by the Act.  Section 20 (2) provides that ‘any Kgosi who without good cause fails to comply with any directions given to him or her by the Minister shall be liable to be reprimanded, suspended, stoppage of increment of salary or deposed in accordance with the provisions of section 13.

As discussed last week, most, if not all, Dikgosi and many commentators are opposed to the Minister being bestowed with the power to discipline Dikgosi, let alone remove a Kgosi from office. Just to refresh our minds, some Dikgosi are on record arguing that since their positions are attained by birth, and they are responsible for a whole tribe, and politicians are, in fact, their subjects, they should rank above politicians.

In their view, it is, therefore, anomalous that a Minister, who is a politician, should have the power to recognise them, supervise them and withdraw their recognition. As stated in last week’s article, Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele of Manyana is on record saying “we have always maintained our stance that de-recognition of a Kgosi by the Minister should be removed. As a Kgosi you are born a leader so there is no how someone, a politician can have powers to de-recognise you.”

Many Dikgosi argue that the politicians’ power to recognise, supervise and de-recognise them not only makes them lose the respect of their subjects, but also has the possibility of being abused and used to further political objectives, something which would have dire consequences for tribal and national harmony. But some have argued that section 20(2) is consistent with the Constitution of Botswana since it limits the Minister’s power, ensuring that he or does not abuse it by, for instance, using the power to meet an irrational purpose.

This, they say, is because, in terms of this section, a Kgosi can only be disciplined or removed if he or she, without good cause, fails to comply with any directions given to him or her by the Minister.  They argue that provided that the affected Kgosi demonstrates that he or she had good cause for failing to comply with any directions given to him or her by the Minister, discipline or removal cannot be visited upon him, and, if it has, would be set aside by a court of law.

I agree. My view in this regard is fortified by the fact that the court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate on disputes thereof is not ousted by the Act. Dikgosi can, therefore, rely on our courts, which are independent, to vindicate their rights. We now go to section 27. Section 27(1) provides that ‘notwithstanding any provision of any enactment to the contrary, no court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any cause or matter affecting Bogosi.’

If one reads section 27(1) in isolation or before reading section 27 (2) they may be alarmed thinking that our courts have no jurisdiction to adjudicate on any matter or dispute related to Bogosi. But that is not so. Section 27 (2) provides that ‘for the purposes of this section "cause or matter affecting Bogosi" means any cause, matter, question or dispute relating to any of the following-(a) the designation of any person as a Kgosi or the claim of any person to be designated or (b) the recognition of, appointment to be, or suspension of a person from being a Kgosi.’

In terms of section 27(2), the courts’ jurisdiction is only ousted in relation to any cause, matter, question or dispute relating to the designation of any person as a Kgosi or the claim of any person to be so designated or the recognition of, appointment to be, or suspension of a person from being a Kgosi. However, the courts have jurisdiction over all other matters, including those related to the reprimand, stoppage of increment of salary or deposing or de-recognition or removal of a Kgosi in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Act.

Some people argue that the ouster of the courts’ jurisdiction with respect to the designation of any person as a Kgosi or the claim of any person to be so designated as well as the recognition of, appointment to be, or suspension of a person from being a Kgosi is an unjustifiable limitation of one’s right to access to the law. I agree. In my view, there is no reason, even the often-cited public interest, national security or public order considerations, for someone who believes he or she is entitled to be designated as Kgosi to be denied the right to approach the courts to assert such right.

The same applies to someone who is aggrieved by the Minister’s decision not to recognise him or her as Kgosi; not to appoint him or her as Kgosi, or to suspend him or her from being a Kgosi.  Lastly, we look at section 28. It provides that the Minister may make regulations for any matter which is required to be prescribed or for the better carrying out of the provisions of this Act and without derogating from the generality of the foregoing, such regulations may prescribe-  (a) the general conditions of service of;  (b) the procedure for taking disciplinary actions against; and  (c) the punishment which may be awarded for breaches of discipline by, persons appointed under this Act.

In our view, whilst there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this section, there is need for a provision that the Minister shall make such regulations after consultation with Ntlo ya Dikgosi. Certainly, it is Dikgosi themselves who would know better what is best for them.

*Ndulamo Anthony Morima (LLM, LLB) is the Managing Partner of Morima Attorneys

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Appendicitis: Recognising the Signs

29th March 2022

Many a times I get clients casually walking into my room and requesting to be checked for “appendix”.  Few questions down the line, it is clear they are unaware of where the appendix is or what to expect when one does have it (appendicitis). Jokingly (or maybe not) I would tell them they would possibly not be having appendicitis and laughing as hard as they are doing. On the other hand, I would be impressed that at least they know and acknowledge that appendicitis is a serious thing that they should be worried about.

So, what is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix; a thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Often the inflammation can be as a result of blockage either by the faecal matter, a foreign body, infection, trauma or a tumour. Appendicitis is generally acute, with symptoms coming on over the course of a day and becoming severe rapidly. Chronic appendicitis can also occur, though rarely. In chronic cases, symptoms are less severe and can last for days, weeks, or even months. 

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always ends up in the operating theatre. Though the appendix is locally referred to as “lela la sukiri”, no one knows its exact role and it definitely does not have anything to do with sugar metabolism. Appendicitis can strike at any age, but it is mostly common from the teen years to the 30s.

Signs to look out for

If you have any of the following symptoms, go and see a Doctor immediately! Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in acute appendicitis;

Sudden pain that starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen within hours

The pain becomes constant and increases in severity (or comes back despite painkillers)

The pain worsens on coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking or deep breaths

Loss of appetite

Nausea and vomiting

Fever

Constipation or diarrhoea

Abdominal bloating/fullness

Diagnosis

The doctor often asks questions regarding the symptoms and the patient’s medical history. This will be followed up by a physical examination in which the Doctor presses on the abdomen to check for any tenderness, and the location of the pain. With acute appendicitis, pressing on and letting go of the right lower abdomen usually elicits an excruciatingly unbearable pain. Several tests may be ordered to determine especially the severity of the illness and to rule out other causes of abdominal pain. The tests may conditions include: blood tests, a pregnancy test, urinalysis, abdominal  “How do ultrasound scans work?” ultrasound (scan), CT scan or MRI Scan.

Treatment

The gold standard treatment of acute appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix known as appendectomy. Luckily, a person can live just fine without an appendix! Surgical options include laparoscopy or open surgery and the type will be decided on by the Surgeon after assessing the patient’s condition. Painkillers and antibiotics are also given intravenously usually before, during and after the surgery.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications such as;

Appendicular mass/abscessIf the appendix is inflamed or bursts, one may develop a pocket of pus around it known as an abscess. In most cases, the abscess will be treated with antibiotics and drained first by placing a tube through one’s abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube may be left in place for a few hours or days while the infection is clearing up but ultimately one would still have surgery to remove the appendix.

Peritonitis – without treatment, the appendix can rupture/burst. The risk of this rises 48–72 hours after symptoms start. A ruptured appendix spreads the infection throughout the abdomen (peritonitis). This is life threatening and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

Death – The complications of appendicitis (and appendectomy) can be life threatening, only if the diagnosis has been missed and no proper treatment has been given on time. This is rare though with the evolved medical care.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email  HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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A degree of common sense

7th February 2022

Here’s a news item from last month you may have missed. In December 2021 the University of Staffordshire announced it would be offered a degree course in pantomime! Yes, that’s right, a degree in popular festive entertainment, the Christmas panto.

We used to have one here, put on by the Capitol Players, though it seems to have fallen away in recent times, but the spectacle is still alive and well in the UK, both in local ad-dram (amateur dramatic ) societies and on the London stage and most of the major cities, these latter productions usually featuring at least one big-draw name from the world of show business with ticket prices commensurate with the star’s salary.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the pantomime format, it consists of a raucous mixture of songs and comedy all based around a well-known fairy or folk tale. Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk & Dick Whittington are perennial favourites but any well-known tall tale goes. There is no set script, unlike a play, and storyline is just a peg to hang a coat of contemporary, often bawdy, gags on, in what should be a rollicking production of cross dressing – there has to be at least one pantomime dame, played by a man and always a figure of fun, and a Principal Boy, ostensibly the male lead, yet played by an attractive young woman.

As an art form it can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the Commedia Del’Arte which used a mélange of music, dance, acrobatics along with a cast of comic stock characters so it has a long and proud theatrical tradition but you have to wonder, does that really qualify it as a suitable subject for a university? Further, what use might any degree be that can be acquired in a single year? And last but not least, how much standing does any degree have which comes from a jumped-up polytechnic, granted university status along with many of its ilk back in 1992, for reasons best known to the government of the time? Even more worrying are the stated aims of the course.

Staffordshire University claims it is a world first and the masters course is aimed at people working inside as well as outside the industry. Students on the course, due to start in September 2022, will get practical training in the art form as well as research the discipline.

“We want to see how far we can take this,” Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden said. The role of pantomime in the 21st Century was also going to be examined, he said, “particularly post Me Too and Black Lives Matter”. Questions including “how do we address the gender issues, how do we tell the story of Aladdin in 2021, how do we get that balance of male/female roles?” will be asked, Prof Marsden added.

Eek! Sounds like Prof. Marsden wants to rob it of both its history and its comedic aspects – well, good luck with that! Of course that isn’t the only bizarre, obscure and frankly time and money-wasting degree course available. Staying with the performing arts there’s Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Bath Spa University. Sounds like fun but why on earth would a circus performer need a university degree?

Or how about a Surf Science and Technology degree at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth). Where the one thing you don’t learn is….how to surf!

Then there is a  degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough. No, I hadn’t heard of it either – turns out it’s a college of further education in Preston, a town that in my experience fits the old joke of ‘I went there once…..It was closed’ to a ‘T’!

Another handy (pun intended) art is that of Hand Embroidery BA (Hons), offered at the University for the Creative Arts. Or you could waste away sorry, while away, your time on a course in Animal Behaviour and Psychology. This degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel. Cockroaches have personalities according to the subject specs– you couldn’t make it up.

Happily all these educational institutes may have to look to their laurels and try to justify their very existence in the near future. In plans announced this week, universities could face fines of up to £500,000 (P750m), be stripped of their right to take student loans or effectively shut down if they cannot get 60 per cent of students into a professional job under a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. Further, at least 80 per cent of students should not drop out after the first year, and 75 per cent should graduate.

The rules, published by the Office for Students (OfS), aim to eliminate ‘low-quality’ courses by setting new standards & requiring courses to improve their rating in the TEF, the official universities ratings system. Universities not meeting the new standards will not be able to charge full annual fees of £9,250. Unconventional courses that could fall victim to the new rules could include the University of Sunderland’s BA in Fashion Journalism, where students learn essential’ skills such as catwalk reporting and the history of Chanel.  They have only a 40 per cent chance of entering highly skilled work 15 months after leaving.

At University College Birmingham, BSC Bakery and Patisserie Technology students – who learn how to ‘make artisan bread’ – have a 15 per cent chance of a professional job within 15 months. Universities minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the move, saying ‘When students go to university, they do so in the pursuit of a life-changing education, one which helps pave their path towards a highly skilled career. Any university that fails to match this ambition must be held to account.’

OfS found that at 25 universities, fewer than half of students find professional work within 15 months.  Business and management courses at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8 per cent) were among the least likely to lead to graduate-level jobs.  Asked to comment, the University of Sunderland said it always looked ‘to find ways to improve outcomes’; University College Birmingham said data on graduates and definition of ‘professional work’ was limited. I’ll bet it is! As the saying goes, ’what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. What a pantomime!

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Why regular health checks are important!

7th February 2022

With the world still reeling from the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and the latest Omicron variant (which is responsible for the ongoing global forth wave) on everyone’s lips, we should not forget and neglect other aspects of our health.

While anyone can get infected with corona virus and become seriously ill or die at any age, studies continue to show that people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, cancers, or mental illness are at a higher risk of developing serious illness or dying from covid-19.

It is a good habit to visit a doctor regularly, even if you feel healthy. Regular health checks can help identify any early signs of health issues or assess your risk of future illness hence prompting one to take charge and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other non-communicable diseases (even communicable) can often be picked up in their early stages, when chances for effective treatment are high.

During a health check, your doctor will take a thorough history from you regarding your medical history, your family’s history of disease, your social life and habits, including your diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and drug intake. S/he will examine you including measuring your weight, blood pressure, feeling your body organs and listening to your heart and lungs amongst the rest. Depending on the assessment, your doctor will notify you how often you need to have a health check. If you have a high risk of a particular health condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent health checks from an early age.

Diet – a healthy diet improves one’s general health and wellbeing. It is recommended that we have at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. Physical activity – regular physical activity has significant health benefits on one’s body, mind & soul. It contributes to preventing and managing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills and improves overall well-being. According to the world health organisation (WHO), people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity at least four days in a week. Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, gentle swimming and social tennis.

Weight – maintaining a healthy weight range helps in preventing long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also vital for one’s mental wellbeing and keeping up with normal activities of daily living. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference annually. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently and a stern management plan in place.

Alcohol – as per WHO reports, alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Healthy drinking entails taking no more than two standard drinks per drinking day with at least two alcohol-free days in a week.

Smoking –Nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, many different types of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Every year, at least a whopping 8 million people succumb from tobacco use worldwide. Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers through second-hand smoke exposure. It is not ‘fashionable’ if it is going to cost you and your loved ones lives! If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor and get help in quitting as soon as possible to reduce the harm.

Blood pressure: Hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. Have your blood pressure checked annually if it is normal, you are aged under 40 and there is no family history of hypertension. You might need to have it checked more frequently if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Your doctor will be there to guide you.

Dental care – eating a low-sugar diet and cleaning and flossing the teeth regularly can reduce one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Visit a dentist every six months for a dental examination and professional cleaning, or more frequently as per your dentist’s advice.
Blood tests – annual to five-yearly blood tests may be done to further assess or confirm risk of disease. These may include blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, liver function, tumour markers, among other things. They may be done frequently if there is already an existing medical condition.

Cancer screening – various screening techniques can be done to detect different cancers in their early or pre-cancer stages. These include; skin inspections for any suspicious moles/spots, two-yearly mammograms for those at risk of developing breast cancer, Pap smear or the new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years, stool tests and colonoscopy (every five years) for those at most risk of bowel cancer, prostate cancer screening for those at risk (over 45 years of age, family history of cancers etc.). Discuss appropriate tests with your doctor.

Vaccinations – You should discuss with your doctor about the necessary routine immunisation, in particular; the Covid-19 vaccines, an annual flu shot, a five-yearly pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one or you are immunocompromised and any other boosters that you might need.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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