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Justice Moroka blasts Unions

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Trade unions should not only be seen as “mere peddlers of the democratic rhetoric” but become custodians of democratic principles, Francistown High Court Judge Lot Moroka has advised.

Officially opening the ongoing Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) congress in Palapye on Monday, Justice Moroka told unionists that trade unions should instead be seen as champions of the democratic process.

“It is my deep rooted belief that trade unions can achieve the foregoing by ensuring that they run their affairs in a democratic manner. Too often organisations find themselves at war as a result of a tyranny perpetuated by the minority or vice versa,” he said.

According to Justice Moroka, for trade unions to help build an inclusive nation, they should themselves run an inclusive organisation which protects the rights of the minority as jealously as they protect those of the majority.

“This therefore is a challenge to you to endeavour to run a clean house. Democracy is in itself not only an expensive undertaking but a culture that needs to be cultivated and strongly inculcated amongst the masses,” explained Moroka.

He said there is an overarching need for trade unions to be united in their quest to achieve amongst others economic prosperity and parity for the working class. For his part, former Secretary General of COSATU, Zwenlinzima Vavi advised BOPEU to ensure that there is no gap between union members and union leaders.

“They must be organically linked, so that no one, no counter force, is able to exploit the gaps that have opened up, and divert us from our historic mission. We have to be models of accountable democracy,” explained Vavi.

He said as the former COSATU leader he has learned that many union leaders are not merely supporting pro-capitalist policies, but are themselves in business, using workers’ money which is invested in trusts and funds, to enrich themselves, even becoming involved in companies in which unions members are in dispute with the employers.

“COSATU, once a bastion of integrity and democracy, regarded by large sections of the public for its high moral and political authority has degenerated, and has been captured and manipulated by anti-working class forces,” he said.

BOPEU is holding elections today in which Andrew Motsamai is defending his position as President against his first Deputy Sikalame Seitiso.

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Violence against LGBTI community is fuelled by some leaders – LEGABIBO

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Recent remarks made by some politicians present enough proof that violence and discrimination towards the lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans*diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community is fuelled by some community leaders.

These are the sentiments shared by Media Advocacy and Communications Officer for LEGABIBO Matlhogonolo Samsam following media reports that some politicians were against the recent decriminalisation of same sex relations. In a statement, the LEGABIBO officer expressed “grave disappointment in the disrespectful comments made by some of the political figures” as published in The Midweek Sun. In the article entitled: “Homophobic Leaders! – Opposition politicians don’t want gays, lesbians,”  Independent Parliamentary candidate in Gaborone Central, Jafta Radibe is quoted as saying that “homosexuality is not a Setswana culture and that the President of the Republic of Botswana owes the nation an explanation how he came to legalize same sex relations.”
Radibe had complained that President Mokgweetsi Masisi did not consult Batswana before legalising homosexuality, adding that homosexuality is not Setswana culture and that the president owes the nation an explanation how he came to legalise same sex relations.

“The Law didn’t go through Parliament. It went through backdoor. Batswana need to know how it came about,” he said, adding that Batswana are still shocked.According to Radibe, men should not sleep with other men. “When a man sleeps with another man, his anus gets loose and in the long term, he will have to wear diapers. O nna segole,” he said.The Parliamentary candidate had earlier expressed disgust at government on radio during parliamentary debates, saying legalising same sex relations was a huge mistake.

He still stuck by his words during the interview with The Midweek Sun that he is against homosexuality and is never going to change his stance on the matter.“Government should have just let gays do their things the way they have been doing it without any legal recognition. It doesn’t make any sense.“When a man sleeps with another man, where is reproduction in there? But again I hear some of them became gays because of the love of money,” he stated.His take is that any man who has feelings for another man needs help and counselling. He also believes that homosexuality is a spiritual attack and that gays initiate others into it.

The way he sees it, gays should seek deliverance from churches. “I know a lot of men that were once gay but have since stopped after being delivered. Now they love women too much,” he said.
Radibe is not the only one from the opposition who shuns gays. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) triplets Ford, Thaga and Mopedi also mocked homosexuals last weekend at Tshekedi Khama’s launch warning the MC that ‘if he voted for the BDP, he is going to marry another man.’ They would also point to another woman in the crowd, telling her she would be made to marry another woman should she vote for the BDP and Masisi.

Earlier this year, BPF President Biggie Butale also lamented that Botswana was turning into Sodom and Gomorrah because of legalising homosexuality.“My personal opinion is that we are on our way to Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s a terrible decision. We have opened a pandora box,” he told The Midweek Sun back then.His take was that the court ruling is going to open floodgates for other undesirable things such as gay marriages, gays adopting children and gay parades.However it remains to be seen what will happen next as the Attorney General has appealed the court ruling in the case against Lesbians Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), which decriminalised same sex relations.

In response, Samsam notes that “sexual diversity has been with us since the beginning of time and one identifying as LGBTIQ is natural; what is not a part of our Setswana culture is hate, disrespect and exclusion of Batswana. Secondly, the decision made by the High Court of Botswana to decriminalise consensual same sex-sexual activities is a ruling which was made independent of the Botswana Government – the judiciary system of Botswana is independent and just. Mr Radibe claiming that ‘the law didn’t go through parliament and went through a backdoor’ undermines the legitimacy and independence of the Courts. The judiciary plays a vital role in ensuring that laws are followed and constitutional rights of all Batswana are protected.

“Community leaders need to acknowledge the diversity of our society and that all Batswana are entitled to enjoy their fundamental rights to Freedoms of Expression and Identity and the Rights to Liberty and Sexual Autonomy. Furthermore, by claiming that people “become gay because of the [their] love for money” and “that gays initiate others” is misleading and only contributes to the misconceptions about LGBTQ persons. There is no such thing as recruiting and initiating people into homosexuality. Lastly, religion is not to be used as a weapon of hate towards LGBTIQ individuals, but needs to be used to promote inclusion, love and Botho!

LEGABIBO wishes to caution political members to refrain from using the LGBTIQ community to decampaign other politicians, but rather one should be able to stand on their own merit, quality and worth. Politicians need to bear in mind the fundamental principles of democracy, human rights and the respect for rule of law and refrain from making utterances that will compromise the safety and security of others.  A true democratic and progressive leader should promote non-discrimination, diversity, dignity and respect for other all Batswana. LEGABIBO encourages all Batswana to practice their democratic right to vote this coming elections.

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INSIDE PANDOR’S BOX

Keletso Thobega

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EYEING VICTORY: Shaffie Pandor is hopeful he will become victorious and become Lobatse MP

The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) is deliberately being “driven to the ground” through privatisation to render it easy prey for some BDP “fatcats” and their cronies.

This is the contention of Shaffie Pandor, the Alliance for Progressives’ parliamentary candidate for Lobatse. He replaced Walter Sebate, who pulled out of the race two months ago to focus on a business project.  Pandor told The Midweek Sun that now that BMC was being privatised, there was need to audit the institution first. “BMC has a lot of land so if it is privatised where does this land go?” he asked before offering an opinion.

“We know that one of the reasons BMC was driven to the ground is because some “fatcats” including some BDP members and their cronies were eyeing the lucrative vast land owned by the company,” he said. Although BMC’s spokesperson Brian Dioka had not responded to our questions at press time, the beef parastatal has insisted in past comments that the company’s restructuring was motivated by market demands rather than politics. BDP’s secretary general Mpho Balopi was not immediately available Tuesday at press time either. Pandor, who is unfazed by his late campaign trail, said that he could not refuse when his comrades asked him to step in.

He is working closely with seven youthful AP council candidates.
Lobatse is one of the highly contested constituencies in the country. Former MP Nehemiah Modubule is fighting to regain his seat under the Botswana Movement for Democracy ticket.
Orapeleng Kakoma of UDC is promising fresh leadership, while Kamal Jacobs who lost the BDP primaries has resurfaced as an independent who curiously was recently launched by Botswana Patriotic Front patron Ian Khama.

It is a nail-biting race and the tallied results will have many on the edge of their seats when they are finally announced. But Pandor is confident that AP has what it takes to turn around Lobatse which has now been branded a “ghost town.” Economic revitalisation, he said, was vital and the fact that Lobatse is the oldest town in Botswana carries rich historical heritage which could be tapped into to create tourism returns. He also pointed out that shortage of water is a big and urgent problem in the town. He warned President Mokgweetsi Masisi not to touch the funds allocated to NS2 Master Water Project in Lobatse. “In the unfortunate event that Masisi takes power, he should not consider touching that money because it was set aside to improve water in Lobatse,” he said.

He added that many people in Lobatse still lived below the poverty line to the extent that many households still cannot afford to connect power in their homes. The 44-year-old is no political novice. He sits on the AP central committee. His political roots can be traced to Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).  He dumped the party in 2016 following the Bobonong fiasco. He said he decided to join the AP because it upholds values that resonate with his political ethics. Pandor comes from a political family. His mother is a councillor for BDP in Phitshane Molopo while his father is political activist and BNF stalwart Hussein Pandor, known as “Matlhola-adibona,” a popular call-in listener to local radio stations.

His father was close to the late Kenneth Koma. His late grandfather, Soleiman Pandor, was a business and political activist with close ties to South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC).
He passed away in the 1970s after failing to get medical assistance in SA because he was on the apartheid government’s list of prohibited immigrants. Pandor joked that in his family they have “planted politics in their backyard.” Despite being from different political camps, Pandor said they have learned to appreciate that they are individuals with different ideologies.

He learnt political tolerance from a young age as he lived with his uncle, the late Isho Abdul, who at one point was Member of Parliament for Lobatse. “From that young age I saw different politicians visiting our family such as the late Michael Tshipinare, Quett Masire and Khama among others. “Although my political ideologies changed as I grew older, that principle of political tolerance stuck with me,” he said.

Pandor was born in Kanye but raised in Lobatse and completed his schooling at Gaborone Secondary School. He did his Tirelo Sechaba in Sua Pan during which he fell in love with tourism and worked in the Delta for many years but his love for politics remained.
He has served as treasurer for BMD South East region and was once interim treasurer for BMD in Tlokweng.

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