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Khama’s actions divide BNF opinion



CENTRE OF DIVIDED OPINION: Former President Ian Khama

Opinion within the Botswana National Front (BNF) is divided on whether the recent actions of former President Dr Ian Khama constitute tribalism or not. A veteran activist of Botswana National Front, also Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidate for Boteti West, Sam Digwa is defending Dr Khama on the recent consultative meeting with Bangwato in Serowe.

On the other hand, BNF’s Vice President Reverend Prince Dibeela is of the opinion that Dr Khama is playing a potentially dangerous tribal game.Since the epic fallout between him and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, Khama, who is a paramount chief, has been to Serowe twice to address his tribesmen and women on the acrimonious relationship between himself and the president. Some of those who attended the meeting even openly gave Dr Khama permission to resign from Botswana Democratic Party (BDP); a party founded and led by his father, Seretse Khama.

Reverend Dibeela contends that Khama or any leader for that matter, “should not appeal to their ethnic allegiances to address their political problems.”He added that Botswana has enough experiences from the continent to avoid the politics of ethnicity. According to Dibeela, politics and ethnicity should not be mixed. “What is happening at the moment is very curious. Many will remember that Dr Khama is not the first royalty to be a politician in this country. “We have had his father, Seretse Khama. There were others such as Kgosi Moremi and Kgosi Lotlamoreng. All of them besides Dr Khama have managed to keep the distance between politics and Bogosi.

They saw the value of respecting the sacred space between the two,” said the outspoken clergyman. He reckons that what is happening right now between Dr Masisi and Dr Khama is essentially an internal BDP problem which should have been referred to the party structures for resolution and not a tribe. Dibeela believes that if every individual were to involve his or her tribe each time they have a problem with the organisation they belong to, there would soon be tribal wars in the country.

But Digwa, who stands to gain from Dr Khama’s promise to decampaign Vice President Slumber Tsogwane for the Boteti West parliamentary contest, has a different view from that of his party number two. He argues that somebody’s home village is important because that is where to get guidance. “I do not see any tribalism here,” he said. Asked if it would be acceptable if Masisi went to his home village too to seek support against Khama, Digwa responded in the negative.

“Dr Masisi is Head of State and President of the ruling party while Dr Khama is none of those.“As such, it would be wrong for Dr Masisi to consult a particular tribe on this matter,” explained Digwa who is looking to benefit immensely from Dr Khama’s support. Digwa is contesting against Vice President Tsogwane who is also BDP Chairperson and incidentally in Khama’s hit list for the general elections this year.

The BNF activist recently attended Khama’s meeting at Serowe where he took to the podium to criticise Masisi for not respecting the Bangwato Kgosikgolo. “Masisi ga a masisi,” he said at the meeting.

Like Digwa, Roseline Matshome, former chairperson of the BDP communications committee, sees nothing wrong with Khama consulting his tribesmen on his problems with his party. “It is normal to seek support from your people because they know you better. The tribe was consulted when he was taken from them to join politics. It is only in order that he consults them back this time around,” said Matshome in an interview.

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Youth lament slow pace towards ICPD commitments



Young people representing Botswana at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) in Nairobi, Kenya last week have expressed disappointment at the slow pace at which governments are moving towards achieving ICPD25 ideals.

Trevor Oahile, a youth advocate and student at the University of Botswana participated at the Nairobi Summit to highlight on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of men and boys.
Oahile hosts a radio show sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Don’t Get It Twisted on Yarona FM. The show deals with issues that affect boys and men. Oahile participated in a panel discussion at the Summit on the involvement of men and boys in accelerating the ICPD promise.

He is of the view that countries needs to work together to end violence that is perpetuated by harmful gender norms that are antagonistic to progress towards the ideals of the ICPD agenda. “Botswana government and private sector are still challenged to invest a lot of money into implementing their commitments,” Oahile said, adding that Comprehensive Sexual Education on the other hand has to be rolled out to every school in the country.

“We also acknowledge that it is important to avoid stereotypes that impact decisions that people make. Men and boys often avoid certain services because they are known to be for girls and women,” Oahile said. Millicent Sethaile was at the Summit as a youth ambassador from an organisation called Her Voice, which funds and offers grants to smaller organisations that advocate for SRHR in communities. In her view the summit was significant because it was an opportunity for countries including Botswana to make commitments to fulfill the unfinished business of the ICPD made 25 years ago.

“What struck me the most is that I realised that Botswana has a long way to go to achieve the commitments she set for herself.”Sethaile also observed that the four commitments including to strengthen access to family planning, the reduction of maternal deaths, reduction of Gender Based Violence, provision of quality, timely and disaggregated data are activities that were already in the pipeline and have been discussed before. “I believe we now have to come up with actionable items that we can work on so that we can effectively deal with current challenges.”
For 18 year old University student Michelle Simon, the Nairobi Summit was a reality check, an opportunity to reflect and map the way forward.

“I realised that there are so many challenges, especially in Africa concerning SRHR,” Simon said. She also realised that Botswana has a lot of catching up to do to implement the commitments of the ICPD. “I also realised that issues including youth in power were left out.” Botho Mahlunge on the other hand comes back from the Summit with a conclusion that there are a lot of predicaments that young people find themseles in across the African continent including GBV and teenage pregnancy.

Programmes need to be intensified to ensure implementation. Mahlunge is also of the view that there is minimum youth engagement on issues that affet them the most. “Young people are tired of always convening about the same issues. It’s time to see the outcomes of Summits and Conferences,” Mahlunge said. She advised the youth to also be willing to engage when the oppotunity avails itself and to take up programmes that have been set to help them. Mahlunge said that failure to educate our young people on sexuality “is the reason so many girls are getting pregnant and infected with HIV.”

She said the continued exclusion of young people in rural areas from sexual and reproductive health and rights discussion is also to blame for the prevailing state of affairs. “Young people in rural areas are completely vulnerable. They are so far removed from the little information and services available to young people in urban areas,” Mahlunge observed.

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Safe communities for our women and girls – Moalosi



Gender Based Violence (GBV) has been identified as one of the critical issues that impede women, girls and men from fully enjoying their human rights and unleashing their potential. Delivering his State of the National Address (SONA) on Monday, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the rising statistics of those affected.

The National Relationship Study of 2018 revealed that 37 percent of women and 21 percent of men have suffered some form of violence in their lifetime, which occurred within Intimate Partner Relationships.

To address this problem, President Masisi says government will intensify the implementation of the National Strategy Towards Ending GBV. The Strategy focuses on the comprehensive care and support of GBV survivors; the Prevention of new GBV incidences; Strengthening national capacity to address GBV; Improving efficiency and effectiveness of the coordination and management of the national GBV response; and Strategic information and knowledge management on GBV.

Just last week, Botswana Non-Governmental Organisations represented at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, committed to ensuring that all is done to end GBV.CEO of Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre, Lorato Moalosi who was presenting on behalf of Botswana NGOs said having reflected on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda since 1994 and on what has changed on Sexual GBV, they are equally disturbed by increasing levels of SGBV in Botswana communities.

Her desire is to empower communities to come up with their own solutions to end SGBV. Moalosi told participants at the Summit that NGOs in Botswana commit to contracting and ensuring robust community engagement, including starting indigenous and disability movements on SGBV to galvanise and mobilise communities to prevent and respond to SGBV. Their plan is to also develop sustained gender transformative programmes that mainstream HIV and GBV, as well as to expand reach and coverage of services and create community safe spaces for the hard to reach, as well as improve services in urban areas.

“We commit to utilising social contracting and ensure NGOs lead in the prevention of SGBV and in the response to ending SGBV at community level,” Moalosi said, adding that they also commit to mainstreaming gender equality conversations and break the silence on SGBV.

“We can no longer hold back. Our communities have to be safe for our women and girls,” she said. The Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 that concluded hursday last week in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi represents a renewed, re-energised vision and community working together to act and deliver.

“Together, we will make the next ten years a decade of action and results for women and girls, keeping their rights and choices at the centre of everything we do,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.

Denmark’s Special Envoy for the ICPD25, Ambassador Ib Petersen said there will be no ICPD50 because women and girls around the world have waited long enough to have rights and choices.

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