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NO PUSHOVER: Dorcas Makgatho says in a political dog fight, she will nurse no one.

Dorcas Makgato, Member of Parliament for Sefhare-Ramokgonami constituency, will take no prisoners in future when defending Botswana Democratic Party and her constituency.

Makgato, who is also Minister of Transport and Communications, challenged former president Ian Khama during the weekend political rally at Sefhare to tell the nation why he hates President Mokgweetsi Masisi so much. According to her, it is the hatred for Masisi by Khama which has driven the former president out of the BDP. “The time has come for us to tell each other nothing else but the truth. The time has come for cowards to stand back and allow the brave to be at the coalface,” she said before telling her listeners that she has a crocodile skin.

“If he is a Kgosikgolo, he should leave politics and go to the kgotla because in politics, if you kick me I kick you back. “We are in the boxing ring and Khama expects me to nurse him. If he cannot stand the heat, he must leave the kitchen,” said Makgato whose view is that, Khama thinks he has the right to insult her because he introduced her to politics. Her rally comes on the heels of Khama’s rally in the constituency where the former President de-campaigned her in favour of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) candidate, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang. By decampaigning Makgato, Khama was making good on his threat to decampaign President Masisi and his supporters especially those in the party leadership following his much documented fallout with his successor, President Masisi.Khama has since founded the Botswana Patriotic Party (BPF) after leaving the BDP.

Matters came to a head when, in one of his forays into the Sefhare-Ramokgonami constituency recently, Khama reportedly said, “Dorcus o a ntlwaela,” which remark Makgato found too condescending to be allowed to go unchallenged. In retaliation, she allegedly insinuated that the late Sir Seretse Khama’s death in 1980 was the result of alcoholism. Annoyed by this, Dr Khama’s younger brother, Tshekedi, joined the fray casting Makgato as a frustrated woman who is inevitably going to lose the elections. Tshekedi reportedly threatened to “confront” her. Makgato used the Sefhare rally to deny the accusation that she insulted the founding President. “I am accused of having insulted somebody at the Chadibe rally which some of you here attended. Did you hear me insult anyone,” she asked the group of party activists from Chadibe who had also attended the Sefhare rally. In unison, they answered, “No.”

Makgato claimed that BPF leaders call her names such as drunkard and thief. “Those are not my names and as such I will not answer to them. “My names are Dorcus Makgato and those are the only names I will answer to,” said Makgato who promised to retaliate for any insult thrown at her. According to her, Khama has got neither discipline nor patriotism. “He is not showing discipline when he, without provocation, attacks an ordinary woman like me. “Nor is he being patriotic when he attacks the country from foreign land,” charged the Minister. Addressing the rally earlier, Lenkokame Sesoa, a councillor, had congratulated Makgato for her bravery.

“I was confronted by a man who wondered whether there were men in this part of the Bamangwato District considering the way Khama has been doing as he pleases and saying what he wants. “That man is grateful to Makgato who is the first person to call Khama to order despite the fact that she is a woman,” said Sesoa. Another BDP activist Moilwa Moilwa, warned the people against voting the UDC. “Khama must not deceive you into voting Gobotswang of the UDC.

“Has he ever voted Gobotswang himself? Only one party, the one represented by Makgato here deserves your vote. Makgato is not only an impactful MP. She is a competent Minister. “You cannot dump a Minister in favour of somebody who is not a Minister.” Obakeng Siamisang appealed to the people to take into consideration Makgato’s good track record when voting at the general elections this year. Another speaker Baakile Gobotswang said Khama has got a controversial track record. “Khama’s dictatorship as BDP leader led to the party split and the formation of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).

“For 10 years when he was Head of State, the public servants were given a meagre 3 percent. It was during Khama’s rule that our education declined with the pass rate plummeting to an all-time low,” said Gobotswang who noted that, political problems are not solved by the formation of a new party. He challenged the BPF to produce a manifesto so that people may know what the party has other than anger. Tekolo Gosego, yet another activist, lamented the intolerance on the part of BFP. “We have never fought with the other opposition parties over a freedom square,” said Gosego whose party, the BDP has apparently had quarrels with the BPF over freedom squares in the constituency.

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Youth lament slow pace towards ICPD commitments

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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

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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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