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Disability Office introduces new data system



Lack of updated statistics on people with disabilities in Botswana has been one of the biggest challenges of the Disability Office in the Office of the President.

According to the Coordinator of the National Disability Policy and Mainstreaming Strategy Thomas Motingwa, the office now aims to have a sophisticated disability database and system that will not only be able to show the number of people with disabilities in different parts of the country, but also who they are, and the level and nature of their disabilities. The system according to Motingwa will be launched in the-not-so distant future in all districts of Botswana, funds permitting.

Motingwa said they have employed several instruments that help them to get statistics across the country. “We use what is at our disposal to get statistics across the country, for example through social workers in districts and the kgotla system in different areas,” he said. Currently, the office relies on a simple data management system. Meanwhile, the World Report on Disability estimates that there are 59 103 people with disabilities in Botswana, representing a 2.9 percent of the population.

Among current activities of the Disability Office is to include people with disabilities in programmes and development plans and ensure their participation in policies and laws that particularly affect them, and ensure that all impairments are catered for in these instruments. One other challenge is that employment does not come easy for people with disabilities, even for the qualified. So far, more than 90 people with disabilities are said to be employed by government though affirmative action, and others by the private sector.

One such beneficiary is Kefilwe Msiwurimwa, a married woman with two children. She first encountered the Disability Office in 2010, and it became instrumental in her enrolling for the internship programme in the department of immigration. In 2013, Msiwurimwa was offered permanent employment in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, and is currently employed as a Programmer in IT in the Ministry of Basic Education.

Msiwurimwa who is married to a visually impaired man lauds efforts of the Disability Office for also helping her to secure a residential plot. “The Disability Office transformed my life. My family now lives in a decent house and lives well,” Msiwurimwa said. The Disability Office, which is mandated to develop, coordinate the implementation of all policies, programmes and strategies aimed at empowering people with disabilities, as well as to monitor and evaluate them is also faced with challenges of housing, transport and training.

The Office has however, through affirmative action been able to facilitate tertiary education opportunities for students with disabilities who obtained lower points than the recommended 36 points. “Through affirmative action we have been able to augment affected students’ points by five points for them to qualify for sponsorship,” Motingwa said. He said that upon completion of their studies, students with disabilities are assisted to find employment without having to queue with their peers.

The office also through affirmative action ensures that people with disabilities don’t queue for land allocation, either residential or farm land. “We provide a covering letter to the concerned land authority for applicants with disabilities to be assisted quickly.”The office is also instrumental in ensuring that people with disabilities have access to medication, and medical equipment including wheel chairs and hearing aides and other assisting devices. Motingwa hopes that accessibility to infrastructure and buildings in schools and public areas will be made easier after amendments in the Building Control Code.

The Disability Office is pleased that disability is increasingly being viewed as a human rights issue, rather than health and welfare like in the past.
“People with disabilities are no longer an object of charity,” Motingwa said, adding that they are working hard to ensure that all barriers to their progress are removed.

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BRING IT ON Ignatius Moswaane ready to serve Francistown West again



READY TO LEAD AGAIN: Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane

Ignatius Moswaane is a former Francistown City Mayor and he served as Monarch Councillor until he took over the reigns as Francistown West constituency in 2014. The constituency had been in the hands of the late Tshelang Masisi before Moswaane took over.

Now the outspoken MP is ready to defend it.
He lists the construction of an additional secondary school at Gerald Estate, the undertaking of a P36 million streetlights project and construction of a road network at Monarch among some of his achievements both as Councillor and later MP.

“The peripheral servicing of the planned Central Business District (CBD) at Gerald Estate has been completed.  “Over and above that we have used the P10 million community development money from government to build houses, some of which we are renting out to public servants.“We have divided the constituency into three (3) clusters and each will have a multi-purpose recreational hall,” said the Botswana Democratic (BDP) Member of Parliament (MP).

He added that Gerald Estates and Phase 6 in Monarch will soon have a local center each owned by the VDC which will lease the shopping area to business. Moswaane initiated Monarch Development Centre to help the youth access government economic projects by, among other things, doing business plans for them for free. His next phase is to push for industrialisation of Francistown by using local resources. “Besides, Francistown must become an industrial hub for the region where, instead of SADC countries going all the way to Johannesburg and Durban to collect their cargo, the cargo is brought to the Francistown airport from their source be it Asia, or where ever by plane for the owner to collect the cargo here.

Our airport is under-utilised at the moment,” he noted. Another way of creating employment is for government to increase its efforts of using ISPAAD to help small scale farmers next to Francistown to grow fruits and vegetables to the extent that we do not import anything. Moswaane regrets government’s slow pace on allocating plots at Gerald Estates. “Since 2012 some 2500 plots have been serviced yet a lot of people from as far back as 1990s are on the waiting list because government is yet to allocate the plots.

The Minister had promised that the process would commence in December last year but nothing has thus far happened. If elected, I will follow up on the matter,” pledged the MP. He is also of the view that more resources should be invested in Nyangabgwe to make it a health facility of choice. “It should be turned into a state of the art hospital where special medical care is provided to attract even people from outside the country. The residents of Francistown need a district hospital,” he observed.

If he returns to parliament, Moswaane will move that the Youth Development Fund (YDF) be increased from P120million to P1billion and the Gender Economic Empowerment Fund from P50 million to P1 billion as well. Moswaane believes the country should build more technical colleges and brigades to carter for the thousands of students who leave school every year without the necessary grade needed as the entry threshold to tertiary schools.

In 2014, Moswane garnered 5304 votes against second-placed Habaudi Hobona of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who was voted in by 3461 voters. UDC was represented by Shatiso Tambula who managed a paltry 950 votes. This year Moswaane will have to fend off competition from Dira Moalosi of the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Mbaakanyi Lenyatso of the UDC.

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FREE AT LAST: LGBTI persons celebrate

Yvonne Mooka



CELEBRATION TIME: The LGBT community celebrated the historic ruling on same sex romance this Tuesday

Thapelo Matshameko, a transgender woman who last year was attacked at Trekkers night club in Gaborone is over the moon about the High Court ruling that overturned a law that criminalised same sex relations.

A trans-woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. In response to the ruling, she told The Midweek Sun that even though she has had it tough before with people calling her ‘Brazen’ and to stop behaving like a woman, she is now happy that the law recognises that they exist. She said that Batswana are now becoming tolerant towards Lesbians Gays Bisexual Transgender and Intersex persons.

“Recently I went out for dinner with my bae, and I came all the way from my house wearing a dress. People that know me loved it and my boyfriend loved it even more,” she says, adding that the verdict will also help other LGBTI persons that are in the closet to come out.

In a previous interview Metshameko pleaded for assistance from members of the public to help her do a surgery that would make her a complete woman. For Motswakgakala Sithole also known as Motswafere in music circles, the ruling shows that Botswana is one step closer to gay marriages.

“Thank you to all the visible gay people. We take punches for those hiding and those shaming us for being visible and exercising our rights. You guys attended court cases with pride and you have carried us to freedom,” he said.

He also thanked Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), lawyers in the case, the media, and friends of the LGBTI community for their support. Phio Kenosi who identifies as trans non-binary asexual woma-romantic, (romantically attracted to the feminine essence), was also ecstatic.

“It is obviously showing that we are moving in a new direction that is positive and inclusive towards sexual and gender minority,” he said.

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