Botswana recently joined other nations across the world in commemorating World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The commemoration was held under the theme ‘’Committed to the Cause- Working on the Frontline to End Human Trafficking.’’
This theme emphasizes the commitment from front line officers to end human trafficking, which is somehow a new pandemic in Botswana. The crime of human trafficking is complex and dynamic, taking place in a wide variety of contexts and difficult to detect. One of the greatest challenges in developing targeted counter-trafficking responses and measuring their impact is the lack of reliable, high-quality data related to the scale of human trafficking and the profile of victims.
Trafficking in Persons means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Thomas Mmusi says from February 2019 to date, Botswana has recorded sixteen cases of human trafficking that are before the courts. ‘’We have a total of forty-nine victims of human trafficking that need shelter, access to health facilities, food, clothing and other forms of protection.’’
Mmusi further indicated that these statistics may not necessarily reflect the situation on the ground, saying there is a need for continuous public education campaigns to ensure that no one is left behind, not even those residing in the most far-flung areas of Botswana.
Frontline officers are central to the effective administration of national anti-human trafficking agenda, the Defence Minister said. We depend on them to detect, refer and protect victims of human trafficking and their efforts also work to ensure that the crime is not committed with impunity, Mmusi noted.
Botswana along with the rest of the world is currently seized with challenges emanating from the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘’COVID-19 has forced us to transition to doing business, and executing our day-to-day affairs in a different manner.
We were warned by the UN through a research brief that the COVID-19 restrictions and the subsequent economic consequences are likely to exacerbate migrant smuggling and cross border trafficking of persons as people are going to be pushed to seek greener pastures. Such a development would further apply strain on criminal justice system that will have to cope with the influx. In fact, it may even underscore the covert nature of the crime.’’
The Ministry says, to curb this new pandemic on top of the already deadly pandemic COVID-19, they conducted in excess of twenty targeted trainings for frontline officers in order to increase detection and protect victims.
Mmusi said his Ministry has also taken a decision to develop the biennial trafficking in persons report for the country. ‘’I intended to launch the inaugural publication which will also be available online before the end of the year. This report will foster strategic partnerships, which will in turn, ensure the effective operationalization of our anti-human trafficking act. It will also assist to disrupt trafficking supply chains and unearth trafficker modus operandi.’’
For his part, Moshupa Kgosi Kebinatswene Mosielele indicated that government turns a blind eye to human trafficking that is happening to minor tribes, something he says has been going on for quite a stretch now. ‘’I want government to look into this situation with a view to encouraging equality within our tribes. We have people trafficking children from minority tribes to work at cattle posts and towns even, to come and become slaves of the elite of this country.’’
Traditional leaders have observed that there are the elite who own the ranches across the country, particularly in the Kgalagadi area. ‘’I have observed that myself. It is a heart breaking encounter and the conditions of these minority tribes are distressing.
The rich trafficking people from the neighboring communities to operate in the farms, literally making them slaves. I have not seen any action taken against these elite people. This can probably be because the legislators are the ones continuing these immoral acts,” he said.
He implored government to work around the clock in ensuring that this new pandemic is eradicated, saying there is no point in pointing fingers at other countries without necessarily looking in what is happening in the country.
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.