Namibian Lives Matter, a Non-Governmental Organisation based in Namibia have this week announced its intention to report the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) to the African Commission for violation of human rights following the death of four citizens at the hands of Botswana’s army in November 2020.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) is a quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective (peoples) rights throughout the African continent as well as interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and considering individual complaints of violations of the Charter.
This includes investigating human rights violations, creating and approving programs of action towards encouraging human rights, and set-up effect communication between them and States (in this case Botswana and Namibia) to get first-hand information on violations of human rights.
The abuses of human rights is said to have occurred when the BDF shot dead the four men who were Nchindo brothers being; Tommy, Wamunyima and Martin (Namibians), together with Sinvula Munyeme (Zambian) – on 5 November 2020 – near Kasane in the Sedudu area in the Southern channel of Chobe River. Botswana has adopted a “shoot to kill” policy over poachers, real or suspicious, in her territorial space.
The BDF killed the “fishermen” with the belief that they were a syndicate of poachers believed to be part of a network responsible for cross-border organised poaching for rhinoceros and elephants, especially in the western part of the country (Okavango Delta and in the Chobe National Park).
The National Executive Chairperson of Namibian Lives Matter, Sinvula Mudabeti, told The Namibian newspaper this week that they are preparing petitions for violation of human rights against the BDF and Botswana.
“We are also considering petitioning the African Commission on human and people’s rights. Our legal experts will soon draft heads of arguments for further transmission to the African Commission against the Namibian and Botswana governments,” the group Chairperson said.
He further continued: “We will also file a complaint at the (Namibian) Office of the Ombudsman to compel the government to release the report on the investigation of the Nchindo murders and for the State to adhere to its demands.”
When reached for comment, BDF Spokesperson Colonel Tebo Dikole downplayed the matter in an interview with WeekendPost this week, emphasising that they put Botswana’s interest and sovereignty ahead of anything else and that they do not harass (or continue to) the Namibians as the group Namibian Lives Matter alleges.
“Kindly note that the Botswana Defence Force’s mission is exclusively to defend Botswana’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and national interests and does not entail the harassment of citizens nor the violation of neighbouring countries jurisdiction that include airspace,” the BDF mouthpiece, Dikole stressed to this publication on behalf of the BDF Commander, Lt General Placid Segokgo.
The BDF said this notwithstanding that there are fresh accusations levelled against the Botswana army for the unabated harassment of Namibians living along the border with Botswana by the BDF in the Zambezi region. The Namibian Lives Matter states that the BDF soldiers this year entered Namibian space with guns during their routine patrols invading Namibia.
“The BDF soldiers (were asked) why they had entered Namibia illegally and with guns. However, there was allegedly no response except that they were on patrol. The police were called to the scene but only came after the BDF helicopters left,” the Namibian NGO claims.
They maintained that this was not the only incident of harassment as many others had gone unreported, and they will now take the government to court as they have sufficient evidence that the government is failing to protect the people of the Zambezi region.
The then Acting permanent secretary in the Office of the President on behalf of the Botswana government communications, John Thomas Dipowe, released a joint statement between the two countries on the matter in December.
“Both governments recognise the need to adhere to the rule of law and at all times maintain respect for human rights by their respective law enforcement agencies in dealing with cases of this nature and that due process shall be followed by relevant authorities.
Going forward, an incident-free future is envisaged and desired by both governments and joint bilateral efforts will be put to play to avert a repeat of similar incidents,” it states. However, Dipowe did not state on how long the investigations into the killings will take and whether they will be made public — for closure on the matter.
The Botswana DanceSport Association (BODANSA) has been graced with a financial boon of P45,000 courtesy of Turnstar Holdings. This generous endowment is earmarked for the illustrious Botswana International Dance Sport Grand Prix Championships, which are scheduled to animate Gaborone from Friday to Saturday.
At a media engagement held early today, BODANSA’s Marketing Maestro, Tiro Ntwayagae, shared that Turnstar Holdings Limited has bestowed a gift of P45,000 towards the grand spectacle.
This enchanting space will also serve as the battleground for the preliminaries of traditional dance ensemblesâ€”spanning the rhythmically rich Setapa to the euphoric beats of Sebirwa, the spirited Seperu, the heavenly Hosana, and moreâ€”in a competition folded into the Traditional Dance Groups Category. The ensemble that dances into the judges’ hearts will clinch a grand prize of P10,000,” elaborated Ntwayagae.
He further illuminated that the cultural eve would not only celebrate traditional melodies but also the fresh beats of contemporary dance variants including Hip Hop, Sbujwa, Amapiano, among others, in a dazzling display of modern dance mastery.
Moreover, these championships carry the prestigious recognition by the World DanceSport Federation as a qualifying round for the Breakdance category for the Paris 2024 Olympics. “This is a monumental opportunity for athletes to leap towards their Olympic dreams during one of the penultimate qualifiers,” underscored Ntwayagae.
Looking ahead to March 2, 2024, the festivities will propel into the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena for the championship’s climactic showdowns encompassing Breakdance, Latin, and Ballroom Dancing.
In Botswana, a beacon of democracy in Africa, the right to participate in the political discourse is a cornerstone of its societal structure. It’s an avenue through which citizens shape the rules and systems that govern their everyday lives. Despite this, recent studies indicate that Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs) are notably absent from political dialogues and face substantial hurdles in exercising their democratic freedoms.
Research within the nation has uncovered that IWDs encounter difficulties in engaging fully with the political process, with a pronounced gap in activities beyond mere voting. The call for environments that are both accessible and welcoming to IWDs is loud, with one participant, who has a physical disability, spotlighting the absence of ramps at voting venues and the dire need for enhanced support to facilitate equitable involvement in the electoral process.
The challenges highlighted by the study participants pinpoint the structural and social obstacles that deter IWDs from participating wholly in democracy. The inaccessibility of voting facilities and the lack of special accommodations for people with disabilities are critical barriers. Those with more significant or intellectual disabilities face even steeper challenges, often feeling marginalized and detached from political engagement.
To surmount these obstacles, there is an urgent appeal for Botswana to stride towards more inclusive and accessible political stages for IWDs. This necessitates a committed effort from both the government and relevant entities to enforce laws and policies that protect the rights of IWDs to partake in the political framework. Enhancing awareness and understanding of the political landscape among IWDs, alongside integrating inclusive practices within political entities and governmental bodies, is crucial.
By dismantling these barriers and nurturing an inclusive political environment, Botswana can live up to its democratic ideals, ensuring every citizen, regardless of ability, can have a substantive stake in the country’s political future.
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.