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Morwaeng’s remuneration of politicians Bill halted

Standing Committee on Remuneration (Members of the National Assembly, councillors, Ntlo Ya Dikgosi and Specified Offices) was withdrawn and will be tabled normally in the July sitting.

The Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Kabo Morwaeng first presented the Bill to the general assembly in February 2021 but later withdrawn after facing stiff resistance. On March 31, 2022 Morwaeng yet again tried to table the Bill brought under ‘unclear’ certificate of urgency but it yet again faced resistance in the follow of Parliament. The Bill has not yet reached its maturity as it was re-published in the Government Gazette on March 25, 2022.

One Member of Parliament said the Bill which was first published on February 19, 2021 was withdrawn because clearly the stakeholders were not consulted. “Specified officers were not defined either. The Bill was brought under certificate of urgency without convincing reasons why the Minister would want to deny stakeholders the chance to scrutinise the Bill. The Minister is asking Parliament to pass the Bill as it is urgently but it is not yet matured,” he said.

He added that it is unclear why the Bill is urgency. The legislator asserted: “However the opposition is likely to reject the Bill. Our position is that like other similar committees before it the proposed committee lacks independence. The role of the Minister and its composition makes the committee to be under the tight grip of government”.

Another MP who also did not want to be named said the influence of the Executive on the committee is immense. “Unconfirmed reports suggest that the committee will serve the interest of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party in respect of managing their succession plan.

It is said that the party seeks to replace the current Vice President Slumber Tsogwane with a loyalist like Minister Peggy Serame. As such they want to introduce a pension for the position of Vice President and a monthly allowance for the First Lady,” he said.

The object of this Bill which Morwaeng intends to present to the National Assembly is to establish the Standing Committee on Remuneration (Members of the National Assembly, councillors, Ntlo Ya Dikgosi and Specified Offices). The committee shall be responsible for assessing the remunerations and conditions of service of members of the National Assembly, councillors, specified offices and members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi.

The committee shall be composed of members appointed by the Minister such as a Chairperson, who shall be a retired Judge or a legal practitioner with at least 10 years of experience. There shall be a person with experience in political matters and a person with experience relating to Bogosi. Other members shall be persons with experience in public administration or human resources, law and financial matters.

Ex-officio members of the committee and shall have the right to vote. These are Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry responsible for Presidential Affairs, Justice and Finance. The Minister responsible for finance shall appoint the secretary for the committee.

“The functions of the committee shall be to assess the remunerations and conditions of service of members of the National Assembly, councillors, specified offices and members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi and make recommendations to the Minister and the Minister responsible for finance within 30 days after any assessment under Subsection (1) has been made,” read the Bill.

The committee may, in the exercise of its functions, order any public officer or any government entity to provide any information in the possession or under the control of such officer or entity. Subject to the provisions of this Act, the committee shall regulate its own procedure for meetings. “The committee shall have at least two meetings in a year for the discharge of its functions, and such meetings shall be held at such places and times as the Chairperson may determine.

A quorum for a meeting of the committee shall be a simple majority of its members. A member shall be paid such allowances and such travelling, accommodation and subsistence expenses incurred during his or her service on the committee and shall be determined by the Minister.

“If a member appointed under Section 3(2) is present at a meeting of the committee at which any matter in which the member or immediate family member of the member is directly or indirectly interested in a private capacity is the subject of consideration, the member shall as soon as practicable after announcement of the meeting, disclose such interest and shall not, unless the committee, otherwise directs, take part in any consideration or discussion of, or vote on, any question touching on the matter.”

When a member fails to disclose his or her interest in accordance with Subsection (1) and a decision by the committee is made benefitting such a member, or an immediate family member of the member, such member or decision shall be null and void to the extent that it benefits such member of family member. “A member who fails to comply with the provisions of Subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P10, 000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both.”

A member shall observe and preserve the confidentiality of all matters coming before the committee and such confidentiality shall subsist even after the termination of their terms of office or their mandates. Any member or any person to whom confidential information revealed through working with the committee shall not disclose the information to any other person unless he or she is required to do so in terms of any written law or for purposes of any judicial proceedings.

Any member or any other person who contravenes the provisions of this Section commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P10, 000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or both.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

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.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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