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‘PILANE IS HOMOPHOBIC’

Yvonne Mooka

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Advocate Sidney Pilane has attracted the wrath of an international symposium in Johannesburg for the ‘anti-gay’ remarks he made recently in the landmark case involving Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana.

Pilane, who is representing the Attorney General’s Chambers in the case, argued in court that homosexuality is unAfrican and does not correlate with the traditional values of Batswana. “As things stand Botswana is being forced to abandon its moral values. The courts should be conservative and measured,” he said then. He also said that there was no substantial evidence to indicate that Batswana’s views on homosexuality had softened in the past years

He cited the Kanane case of 2004 before the Court of Appeal, which indicated that Batswana were hardened against acceptance and tolerance of homosexuals, adding that Penal Code provisions could be revisited when the time was right. At the end of Key Populations Reach Programme regional symposium in Johannesburg, whose mission was to evaluate the programme after its three years, Pilane’s name featured and it was in no flattering terms.

“This is just unfortunate and a display of ignorance. I wonder if the lawyer knows what homosexuality is and what being African and unAfrican is,” said Adolf Mavheneke, Regional Policy and Advocacy Specialist at SAfAIDS. In an interview with The Midweek Sun, Mavheneke said Pilane needs a dose of the boxes and binaries so that he can understand better issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. “It is this moral narrative which entrenches stigma and discrimination,” he said.

He added that Pilane’s remarks are the narrative empty of the inclusive agenda which aims at defining the world in the commitment to end HIV by 2030. “We cannot take in measures, practices and sentiments that put one of our own as lesser human. To be different is the peak of humanity and human diversity and the understanding and respect for that diversity is the moral signature and truth we should preach,” he said.

Established in 1994, SAfAIDS is a regional non-profit organisation based in Harare, Zimbabwe that works to promote ethical and effective development responses to sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV and tuberculosis (TB) by working to influence changes in policy and social practices through advocacy, communication, and social mobilisation. It was one of the organisations engaged in the KP Reach programme.

SAfAIDS’ primary target group is policy makers and the most vulnerable and marginalised communities, whilst their secondary target group is the general population that requires a specific service. SAfAIDS works in partnerships with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith-based organisations (FBOs), AIDS Service Organisations (ASOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs), and the media to reach their target populations.

Meanwhile, Pilane is reported to have asked in Court what was so important about ‘sex’ that homosexuals could “not do it” without upsetting the laws, saying that they were conducting their affairs behind closed doors anyways.

Pilane further wondered whether legalising homosexuality indicated to the public that there was room to change the law to accommodate “unnatural behaviour”, and asked rhetorically: “Should those who partake in bestiality (sleep with animals) also come here and demand that laws be changed to accommodate them?” LEGABIBO is represented by Tshiamo Rantao, and the applicant, a gay man, is represented by Gosego Lekgowe. The ruling is set for June 11.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

The MidweekSun Admin

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University of Botswana students are bracing themselves for the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Contenders are fighting tooth and nail to appease the electorate. Three camps are in contention to fill the 13 council positions.

Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Moono-wa-Baithuti has the onerous task of defending all the 13 seats which they hauled at the last elections of 2018. “As Moono wa Baithuti, we have lots of achievements. We are on the verge of getting the student bar open, so we need to go back and fix what we started,” said UDC’s Tumelo Legase who is vying for the position of Vice President.

He said they have advocated for student empowerment policies and are also proposing a third arm of student representation. “We have the SRC and the Judiciary, what we need is the student Parliament so that we have a large number of leaders who can independently attend to problems across the university.” The dark horse in this race is the University of Botswana’s Alliance for Progressive (AP) which will take another leap of faith despite their loss in the previous election.

They are rejuvenated and redefined. Candidate for Vice President Karabo Bokwe said central to their mandate is making the welfare of the student community a priority. “We want to help eradicate school policies that border on oppression, and through new polices call for initiatives that come with enterprenuership benefits to students.”

AP candidate for Information and Publicity, a first year Criminal Justice student Gracious Selelo said they are more united than other parties even at national level. “We don’t have internal squabbles within our party, we are more focused and can deliver our mandate easily,” she noted.

However the ruling party’s BDP GS-26 will come with all guns blazing after an embarrassing defeat in the previous elections. Preparations have been made and the GS-26 is looking to take the elections by storm.

According to their Presidential Candidate Boniface Seane, they come with the message of hope that addresses the current status quo at the University.“The university is not functioning so we drew three policies that embrace inclusiveness. We want to lead collectively with the students, through the student body meetings which the previous SRCs have failed to do. “We will consult with the students with no discrimination.”

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Healthcare system to improve

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The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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