The United Nations Common Country Analysis report for Botswana says women, members of the LGBTIQ community, people living with disabilities, indigenous people and detained people face power imbalances within Botswana’s society. This also includes migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, the poor, and those in rural areas.
These vulnerable groups face prejudice based on gender, ethnicity, national origin, income and disability, manifest through unequal access to services, resources and opportunities, stigmatisation and social exclusion.
According to the study, most international migrants in Botswana originate from India, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom, with 80 per cent falling within the 15–49 age group, i.e. the most sexually active and economically productive age group. Botswana’s 170,000 non-citizens in residence constitute 7 per cent of the country’s total population; of these, an estimated 30,000 live with HIV, with approximately 27 per cent receiving ART.
The UN indicated in their report that policies and practices that restrict access to essential healthcare services for migrants and refugees can reduce their access to information on HIV prevention and lead to them avoiding testing services and treatment for HIV for fear of arrest and deportation.
This means that fewer know their HIV status and can cause increased HIV prevalence through the practice of Multiple Concurrent Partnerships (MCP) and reduced access to prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT).
Furthermore, migrants are marginalised because of limited access to free, publicly financed antiretroviral therapy, despite the 2016 Treat All policy and the government’s National HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework 2018–2023 (NSF III) recognises non-citizens as a priority population requiring programmatic attention.
“Within the non-citizen population, prisoners and refugees have access to ART, but other migrants have to purchase antiretroviral from private facilities at a high cost. Non-citizen Populations who cannot afford ART treatment on their own include low-wage workers, such as maids, cleaners, hair braiders and other day labourers, and unmarried partners of citizens, including the unmarried mothers of children fathered by citizens.”
In this new report, the United Nations pointed out that non-citizens (including their children) were excluded from government COVID-19 food assistance during the April-May 2020 national lockdown.
Asylum seekers are held in prisons and prison-like conditions, including at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants. Poor conditions include a lack of adequate healthcare. The refugee population tends to face exclusion from tertiary healthcare assistance that requires referral to private health facilities.
THE LGBTI COMMUNITY
The United Nations also exposed how Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex persons in Botswana are treated. The organisation found out that members of the LGBTIQ community continue to face discrimination, which affects their access to healthcare and HIV prevention. Even though the Botswana High Court struck down laws making homosexuality illegal in 2019, little information is available on the size of the community and HIV and TB prevalence rates within it.
In 2017, the number of men who have sex with men (MSM) was estimated at 2,625 in 10 study districts leading to an adjusted national size estimate of 4,169.84. In the 2017 BBSS, condom use at last sex was reported by 77 per cent on average, with less than two-thirds reporting they always used condoms (61 per cent).
About 20 per cent reported engaging in sex work, 42 per cent were in concurrent relationships, and 40 per cent had (primarily casual) female partners in the six months before the survey, thus intersecting with the female population at large.
It was further reported that LBT women experience limited access to health care services, including sexual and reproductive health services. Transgender people are also unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity.
There are documented cases in which identity document barriers had resulted in delays in accessing health care. Access was impeded when health workers called the police after transgender persons presented identity documents that did not reflect their gender identity. In 2014, at least 75 per cent of HIV programmes and services for transgender persons were provided by civil society organisations (CSOs).
In a significant stride towards inclusivity, Botswana’s National Assembly has ratified the groundbreaking Persons with Disability Act. This legislation is a cornerstone in protecting the rights and promoting the economic well-being of individuals with disabilities
At the heart of this act is the creation of two pivotal bodies: the National Disability Coordinating Office and the National Disability Council. These institutions are set to revolutionize the integration of disability affairs into the national fabric, as outlined by the Minister for State President, Kabo Morwaeng. Morwaeng highlighted the alignment of this act with the global Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), underlining Botswana’s commitment to international standards in disability rights.
During his address to Parliament, Morwaeng disclosed Botswana’s inaugural CRPD report submission to the UN, underscoring the nation’s dedication to global dialogue on disability rights. Furthermore, he unveiled plans for a comprehensive assessment to understand the socio-economic realities of disabled individuals and their families. This initiative, complemented by the strengthening of existing programs, aims to empower this community, ensuring their integration and prosperity in society
Morwaengâ€™s call to action was clear. He urged a collective shift in developmental agendas to accommodate and prioritize disability issues, advocating for an inclusive societal framework.
An ambitious budget of P35,631,600 has been allocated to bridge gaps in Disability Economic Empowerment, alongside critical studies and the establishment of the National Emergency Operations Centre. Concluding his presentation, Morwaeng appealed to fellow governmental departments to allocate funds diligently to fulfill CRPD and Persons with Disabilities obligations, marking a new chapter in Botswana’s legislative history towards inclusive development.
Kabo Matlho, a luminary whose fame once graced the grand finale of My Star, is poised to enchant the music realm once more with an upcoming solo ventureâ€”an RnB and Hip-Hop Extended Play (EP)â€”heralding his grand resurgence after a hiatus that spoke volumes.
During a telephonic confab with our editors, the virtuoso, navigating the world from the confines of his wheelchair, confided that while the exact launch date of the EP remains shrouded in mystery, he is fervently working towards a mid-2024 reveal. Matlho shared the trials of his odyssey, especially the cold shoulder he received from the industry ambushes, crediting the harsh exclusion to his physical predicament.
“The scene calls me once more, for the absence has been both a sabbatical and a shadow. The road for an artist, enveloped in the embrace of wheels, is strewn with fewer welcomes and scarce stages. Yet, herein I forge my return, with the precise hour of my EP’s birth still nestled in the coming chapters, assuredly within this yearâ€™s embrace,” Matlho unveiled with a determination that shone bright.
Probed on his choice for a solo EP, the melody weaver expressed a desire to not only rekindle his essence but to stand solitary under the spotlight, nurturing his brand to vigor before possibly blending it with the talents of othersâ€”once his career phoenix rises anew from its ashes.
Elaborating on his Extended Play, Matlho shared visions of its essence, where the soul of RnB intertwines with the spirited rhythm of Hip-Hop, crafting an audial tapestry that not only returns to his roots but also ventures into previously uncharted territories of his musical domain. With resilience, Matlho faces the crossroads of his artistry, embracing the whisperings of Hip-Hop that tease the boundaries of his comfort, embarking on this path with a heart both apprehensive and ablaze.
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.