Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 22 May 2018 - Botswana Guardian
Tuesday, 22 May 2018 12:24

BMS bungles Khawa

FOOTBALL 

The Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Dispute Resolution Chamber (NDRC) this week dismissed the case of Gaborone United (GU) players’ mass termination of contracts.

The Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) on behalf of 13 GU players had recently filed an urgent case against team management citing that the players wanted their contracts to be terminated with immediate effect over unpaid salaries. The players are owed salaries of over six months.

Nevertheles,  the NDRC has since dismissed the case saying there is no urgency in the matter and the case will be heard at a later date that is yet to be communicated. According to the FUB legal advisor Puso Motlhane, they wanted the case to be heard as matter of urgency because as it stands, the situation between GU management and the players might destabilise the proper ending of the BTC premiership league. He paid reference to last weekend game between Police XI and GU in Molepolole saying the game was called off because players did not turn up for the game as a result of the pending issues between both parties.

As it stands, no solution has been found to this far and things are most likely to remain the same at Moyagoleele. Players are not turning up for training and it is not clear if the team will manage to honour their last league fixture against Gilport Lions. Unconfirmed reports allege that the 13 players are determined to stay away for as long as possible until GU pays them their dues. “Enough is enough, we have had enough because clearly they do not care about us. We are just being used and expected to bring results while we continue to suffer,” some of the disgruntled GU players told BG Sport

Recently, the concerned players said that they are unable to survive and have nothing to feed their players. Quizzed on  their current relationship with the team management, players said that some of them are not even on speaking terms because the (management) has made it clear that it is only interested in winning matches and neglecting the main stakeholder, being players. When contacted for comment, Gaborone United General Manager Olebile Sikwane said the players are contract bound hence the current situation. In his view the players are still GU employees and the necessary actions will be taken against them if they continue with their behaviour.

 Regarding the weekend abandoned game, Sikwane revealed that they had informed Botswana Premier League (BPL) prior to the game however BPL never responded on the matter.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 22 May 2018 12:23

BRU prepares for international journey

RUGBY

Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) is currently hard at work in preparation for the Rugby Africa Women’s sevens tournament scheduled for Gaborone from the 26th -27th May 2018. The national women’s team has been in camp for the past two months under the watchful eye of headcoach Emmanuel Masinki. Addressing BRU stakeholders on team preparations this week, Masinki said his squad is more than ready to compete. He said that the girls are determined to improve their rankings and if anything, they are vying to finish in the top seven spots. Currently Botswana is ranked 9th  in Africa. Masinki said nine countries are expected to descend in Gaborone to compete in the tournament including Madagascar, Mauritius, Tunisia, Kenya and Morocco amongst others. “We intend to win our pool, we recently gauged our performance against Zimbabwe and we have also finalised the team list. We have a mixture of both the experienced and new blood, "he said.

Masinki explained that it was important that they reach their set target so that the team can be able to participate in other major tournaments such as the Commonwealth Games. 

The team captain Kelebogile Bagwasi said that they will have to win their game against Mauritius most importantly. “We will deal with the intimidating Morocco at a later stage however if we ensure that we remain focused in our first two games then all will fall in place,” Bagwasi said.

Meanwhile the BRU league is expected to go into finals this weekend. In the Super League Division the defending champions BDF Cheetahs are expected to lock horns with Gabs Hogs in what is expected to be more of a repeat of the 2017 game. In the President League BAC N will face off with Jwaneng. All games will be played at Wharic Park from 1100hrs.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 22 May 2018 12:21

IWG World Conference arrives

Botswana is currently hosting the 7th International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) World Conference in Gaborone. The three day conference officially commenced on 17th  and  is to conclude on 20th May.

About 80 countries have converged in Gaborone for the World Conference. The event has attracted more than 900 participants with over 500 being Africans.  The conference is held under the theme ‘Determine the future, Be part of the change.’

Botswana’s international sprinter,(400m) Amantle Montsho and South African middle distance runner and also 2016 Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya are expected to be among the panelists of the plenary sessions. Addressing members of the press this week, the IWG Co- Chairperson Ruth Maphorisa said they have prepared well for the event and hoping for a successful turnout. Maphorisa  explained  that they had budgeted for P14 million however they have since settled for P 9 million given their financial challenges.

 Maphorisa and her team were forced to scale down their budget and work with the available resources, “ We had to prune out some things but not necessarily watering down the quality of the event,” she said. The IWG Co- Chairperson said the government had been generous enough and assisted whenever possible to ensure smooth running of the event.  “We were dealing with issues of Visas and I must applaud our government for speeding up the process and ensuring that no one is left behind.” Quizzed on the legacy they expect to be left  behind by the conference, the IWG Secretary General Game Mothibi said many local women have been trained in sports leadership roles. As a build up to the IWG conference, Women and Sport Leadership Academy (WSLA) Botswana chapter saw about 25 locals trained from the 14th -16th May in Gaborone. 

More to that, because of the historic milestone, Botswana is now the base for WSLA in Africa. The academy will run every two years and the legacy is to be continued by Tsosi Magang Trust and Women in sports Botswana (WASBO) post the conference. The academy was full funded by Debswana  Diamond Company.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 22 May 2018 12:19

The paralympic myth dispelled

So, I asked my friend if his brother with cerebral palsy does not wish to participate in sport and her response was that her brother is not able to do any sport because they move him around on a wheelchair. I didn’t reach a pistol and shot her out of frustration because I somehow understood where she was coming from, which is a state of mind where most Batswana are currently in.

 Therefore, I took my sweet time to explain to her the options available in sports for someone with cerebral palsy. It seems that there is myth in our country that the only option in sport available for paraplegics is basketball and that the cerebral palsied have no place in sports. I will be exposing all the lies about the Paralympic games and giving you the naked truth, which I hope it will also address the next question that I often get: what is the difference between Special Olympics and Paralympics? I am very much aware of the damage that our good culture has done and that most of the current predicaments that persons with disability face in sports emanates from our culture. 

Because I believe that my friend is not the only one with a loved one that is living with disability as the figures indicate that there are more than fifty thousand people living with disabilities in Botswana which means that most of us either have a family member living with disability or we just know someone from our neighbourhood or village. Paralympics deal with physical disability whileSpecial Olympics focus on mental disability. Vision 2016 demanded that we should be an informed nation at this stage but it seem information is not reaching the stakeholders as far as disability sport is concerned. 

Therefore, I am going to stand on the gap between Motswana at home and disability sport. My submission is that sport is a basic human right and therefore there is an element of seriousness that it demands hence we cannot continue to pretend that it is not a critical issue when people are not aware of the options they have in sport. 

I believe we can only dispel the myth or should I say ignorance with facts. On today’s issue we will look at the Paralympic Games and we will cover the other sports on the next editions. I will start with the basic history of the Paralympic Movement so that we get to fully appreciate it. The Paralympic Games started as physical disability sport. It evolved from a rehabilitation therapy that was administered to the World War II veterans at Stoke Mandeville hospital in the UK until it is what is now known as the Paralympic Games. During the World War period, soldiers normally suffered spinal cord injuries and most of them could not survive for more than three years thereafter. It was until the German-Jewish neurologist, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann was appointed by the British government to head the National Spinal Injuries Unit at the Stoke Mandeville hospital in 1943 that the situation changed for the paraplegics. Together with his family, Dr. Guttmann had fled from the Nazis in Germany and settled in Oxford where he worked at Oxford University when he received the call to work at the hospital.

 His job at the hospital was to specialize in the rehabilitation therapy for the war veterans who sustained spinal cord injuries. Dr. Guttmann accepted the offer despite criticism from his colleagues who could not understand how someone can leave a university job for the lowly job of dealing with spinal cord injured veterans who at that time were considered to be worthless. Dr .Guttmann proposed that the condition for accepting the Stoke Mandeville offer was that he would be allowed to administer the rehabilitation therapy in his own terms without following any prescribed methods from the state. Perceiving the value of sport, the good doctor introduced sport as a tool for rehabilitating the veterans. 

Literature is silent about the use of sport as a rehabilitation tool for people living with disabilities prior to World War II, especially with regards to those with spinal cord injuries. It was after the war that medical practitioners started to consider alternative ways of treating soldiers who were injured during the war in order to address not only the physical injuries but also the emotional trauma suffered in the process. Dr. Guttmann tried different sports such as darts, snooker, punch-ball, skittles and wheelchair polo.

 Wheelchair polo was short lived as it was considered to be dangerous to the patients and it was substituted by wheelchair netball which progressed to the now current wheelchair basketball which most Batswana are familiar with and thinks is the only alternative available to the paraplegic. The breakthrough for Dr. Guttmann was the introduction of archery as a rehabilitation therapy. Not only did this sport serve as a rehabilitation tool but also marked the inaugural of the Paralympic Games.  Archery was not only significant in strengthening the upper body muscles that were important in order for the paraplegic to maintain an upright posture but it was also a sport that could be played by both persons with disabilities and non-disabled. 

This meant that the two groups could even compete together under similar conditions. This integration helped to showcase that people with spinal cord injuries can also equally do the things that the people without disabilities can do contrary to beliefs of that time that they could not do any sport.  This move saw archery teams being formed at Stoke Mandeville hospital and they competed with different able bodied archery teams outside the hospital. These competitions became instrumental in breaking down the dividing walls and bridging the gap between the general public and people living with disabilities. It also facilitated the paraplegic to easily integrate into society once discharged from the Stoke Mandeville hospital as they could then join the able-bodies archery clubs at their respective places of residence. 

The rest of Great Britain copied the therapeutic procedure for spinal cord patient leading to the formation of more archery teams such that National Games were then instituted and eventually international archery games. The first Paraplegic Games took place in 1948 between two hospital teams and the Games grew such that within three years eleven hospitals in England participated in the competition. 

I am here wondering that if this rehabilitation therapy worked and is working for the British and other countries, can someone please enlighten me why we do not have at least just one archery team for persons with physical disabilities in Botswana? Anyway, that is a conversation for another day; let us get back to the history lesson for now. 

The first Paraplegic Games as they were known at the time were coincidently held on the same date as the official opening ceremony of the Olympic Games that were also held in London, thirty-five miles from the Stoke Mandeville hospital. It is not known if the date for the Paraplegic Games was purposively set on the same date as the official opening of the Olympic Games in order for them to serve as a reference point or it just naturally happened that the two events occurred at the same time. Nonetheless the event became a marketing opportunity that was explored by Guttmann over a period of time while promoting the Games for the Paraplegic.  

The real international games though happened in 1952 as it had athletes who were coming from the military rehabilitation center in the Netherlands.  Thereafter the Games continued to be an international affair and grew in popularity such that eighteen countries participated at the 1956 Games. The Games program also increased to include other sporting events such as swimming, snooker, javelin, dartchery, fencing and basketball, which replaced netball.

The big day for Dr. Guttmann might have been in 1960, in Italy, when the Paraplegic Games were staged just after the Olympic Games in Rome and using some of the same venues that were used for the Olympic Games. It was at these Games that Pope Paul XIII, who had graced the Games, addressed Dr. Guttmann as ‘the De Coubertin of the paralysed’ and from there on the Games followed the four-year cycle of the Olympic Games and they were also staged at different places just like the Olympic Games. 

The Games continued to grow in size with the addition of other disability groups. The visually impaired and amputee’s categories were added into the program in 1976 and cerebral palsy was added in 1980. Intellectually disabled participants were allowed to participate in 1992 and the category was removed from the program after the 2000 Sydney Games and they were re-instated in the London Paralympic Games in 2012. We will cover the Paralympic Games program next week so that everyone can see where they fit ie to see the options they have in this mega sport event. 

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 22 May 2018 11:58

“We want to return to our land”

Umm Omar was eight years old when Irgun and Stern Gang terrorists violently expelled her family from their farm in the village of Jusayr in May 1948 during the creation of Israel. This week, she, along with millions of Palestinians, are marking 70 years since 750 000 indigenous Palestinians were driven from their land to make way for the creation of Israel.  For Palestinians, this is the Nakba (catastrophe); for Israelis, it is 70 years of independence. 

“We used to grow wheat. I remember going out with my parents in the wheat fields when I was a little girl. We never saw another happy day after we left,” says the 78-year old great-grandmother.

The family then fled to al-Majdal, a Palestinian town that is now the Israeli city of Ashkelon. As Zionist terrorists continued to ethnically cleanse Palestinians, the family was forced to move to the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

Her father returned to Jusayr to check on their land. “He saw that everything was OK. It was just like we left it.” But on the way back, Umm Omar’s father was killed when he stepped on a landmine planted by Zionist militias.  Denied the right to return to their original villages, the refugee camp in Gaza became permanent for Umm Omar and thousands of others. Today, seventy percent of Gaza’s population are refugees, meaning they or their parents or grandparents fled or were expelled from areas that became Israel - without their permission. They have never been allowed to return, despite United Nations Security Council Resolution 194 guaranteeing them the right to return to their homes.

Not surprisingly, the movement to return home has started in the besieged Gaza Strip. Known as the Great Return March (GRM), thousands of Palestinians have engaged in protests at the Israel-Gaza border fence since March 30. Makeshift tents, symbolising the right of return for Palestinian refugees, have been erected 700 metres away from the unilaterally-imposed Israeli military buffer zone. Protesters are also calling for an end to the decade-long Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip that has strangled the economy and life of Palestinians. Since the protests began, 50 Palestinians have been killed and over 5000 injured from Israeli live ammunition and tear gas. There have been no Israeli casualties.

“With the Great Return March, Palestinians are demanding a life of dignity,” explains GRM spokesperson, Ahmad Abu Rtemah. “Nothing about life in Gaza is normal. The Nakba is not a just a memory, it is an ongoing reality. We accept that we all must eventually die. But in Gaza, the tragedy is that we don’t even get to live,” says Abu Rtemah. 

It’s not just Palestinians in Gaza that long to return to their land. 

Abu Arab was thirteen years old when Zionist forces bombed his family’s home in Saffuriya in July 1948. He is now an Israeli citizen, but cannot return to his village located less than two kilometres from Nazareth where he currently lives.  As Israeli troops occupied the village, the family was forced northwards towards Lebanon, eventually ending up in a refugee camp there. 

His father made the dangerous journey back and found the village gone. Saffuriya had been fenced off and declared a closed military zone. Anyone entering risked being shot by Zionist terror groups.

“We had nothing. Everything had been taken from us,” he says. The family hid in a friend’s house in the nearby town of Nazareth, and eventually settled there. 

Israel has built an exclusively Jewish community over the village of Saffuriya, and given it the Hebrew name of Tzipori. Where the houses once stood is a pine forest planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) – an environmentally-friendly way of erasing the Palestinian presence there. The Israeli government refuses to allow Palestinian refugees to return home simply because they are not Jewish. Palestinians are viewed as a “demographic threat” to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. This is why Israel has not allowed Palestinians to return to their own homes, and they continue to be forgotten in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While Palestinians are a threat, Jewish identity is celebrated and welcomed in Israel. 

For instance, a South African Jew, who has never lived in Israel, can automatically gain citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return, while a Palestinian refugee whose family lived in Palestine for generations – and who still hold the key to their home - is unlikely to obtain even a visitors’ visa, let alone the right to return there to live. “We’re not calling for removing anybody from existence or displacing anybody from their place, we’re simply calling for justice. Our weapons are our rights and UN resolution 194, and we’re hoping that the international community will recognise our just cause,” explains Abu Rtemah. “I still hope that I’ll die in my home town. I may be using a walker to move around today. But if they told me I can go back to Jusayr, I’d run all the way,” Umm Omar says animatedly. Abu Arab is equally determined. “I am sure one day I will return. If not me, then my son - and if not my son, then my grandson,” he says.  Like Umm Omar and Abu Arab, the makeshift tents of the Great Return March are standing firm against an Israeli regime that has tried to break the spirit and erase the presence of Palestinians.  Seven decades after the Nakba, Palestinians want nothing more than to return to their land and live in dignity.

Suraya Dadoo is a researcher with Media Review Network in Johannesburg. Find her on Twitter: @Suraya_Dadoo

Published in News

It is only a matter of time before Eric Molale- Minister of Minerals, Energy Resources and Green Technology leads the Botswana team to negotiate a new sales agreement with government’s long-time partner, De Beers’ group of companies. 

Molale is not new to the negotiating table of the sales agreement. He, together with the then minister of Minerals and Water Affairs Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe led a strong Botswana team as Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) and Chairman of Debswana in negotiating the current ten year agreement signed in 1st January 2011. 

Debswana is a 50-50 joint venture between government and De Beers. Anglo American owns 85 percent of De Beers and the remaining is held by Botswana’s government.

 Molale assembled a strong team comprising the then Attorney General Athalia Molokomme, Bank of Botswana Governor Linah Mohohlo, then Permanent Secretary in the ministry of minerals, Boikobo Paya and his deputy Terrence Siamisang.  He also roped in Dr. Akolang Tombale and Gabaake Gabaake. The presence of Tombale caused a furore as incumbent De Beers’ CEO, Nicky Oppenheimer and the then De Beers’s legal advisor allegedly opposed his presence, but these attempts were met with equal contempt. The two were reminded that they have no right to determine who has to constitute the Botswana team.  

The Botswana team worked as a united force and used to meet on their own to determine the way forward as well as decide who amongst them would present a particular issue and that nominated person would enjoy the support from colleagues. 

The result of the negotiations brought along the best ever terms for Botswana in an agreement that comes to an end in 2010. The practice is that negotiations start in advance in order to avoid any gaps. 

The contract covered sorting, valuing and sales of Debswana’s diamond production. 

It was also agreed that De Beers will transfer its London-based rough diamond sales activity to Gaborone, underpinning the long-term future of the partnership and transforming Botswana into one of the world’s leading diamond trading and manufacturing hubs.

 Over and above that, it will see the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) relocate its sights and sales operations - including professionals, skills, equipment and technology - from London to Gaborone by the end of 2013, all of which have come to pass. 

DTC has since constructed a landmark in Gaborone along the Airport Road. DTC does not only aggregate production from all De Beers’ mines and its joint venture operations worldwide, and sell to international Sight holders, but houses one of the best and latest diamonds sorting equipment in the whole world. To date DTCB continue to sort and value Debswana’s production before selling, it also supports the domestic cutting and polishing industry.

 

Okavango

The current agreement led to Botswana Government having its own independent sales outlet which takes 15 percent of the total Debswana diamond and sells them to whoever it deems fit. The deal started with 10 percent of Debswana production and was to increase over a five year period.

 

Negotiations

Although a date for the negotiations has not been announced, there is no doubt that they will take place as President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi has already indicated that he wants a new long-term diamond-sales pact with De Beers when the current 10-year deal expires in 2020 and for more gems to be processed locally. Speaking to Bloomberg, Masisi said the conclusion of an accord is crucial for both Botswana, which relies on diamonds for almost a fifth of its gross domestic product, and for the Anglo American Plc unit that gets about two-thirds of its gems from the southern African nation. Masisi, who is due to contest elections next year, is pushing for the industry to create more jobs and is “dead determined” that more diamonds be cut and polished in the country.  

“We have had a wonderful relationship with De Beers and we expect that relationship to be even more cemented,” Masisi said in an interview Monday in his office in Gaborone. 

“There is a way of actually achieving a win-win for both, and that’s what we desire.” It remains to be seen whom Molale will pick in his negotiating team this time around besides the obvious picks like the Attorney General Abraham Keetshabe, BoB Governor Moses Dinekere Pelaelo and Permanent Secretary at Minerals, Energy Resources and Green Technology Cornelius Diekop.

Published in News

The tourism sector can contribute more to Botswana’s economy provided there are structural changes and a conducive environment for the industry to thrive on, Chairman of Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB), Dr. Thapelo Matsheka has told Botswana Guardian. Tourism is among the biggest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) although it is grouped under trade, hotels and restaurant by Statistics Botswana. Figures from government shows the tourism sector continues to grow, in the process picking the economy while other sectors such as mining are faltering.  

The country’s GDP expanded by 6, 5 percent in the last fourth quarter of 2017, lifted by an 18, 1 percent expansion in trade, hotels and restaurants which tourism is part of. For 2017, the sector expanded by 7, 3 percent despite tough economic conditions in the year under discussion. 

According to World Travel Tourism Council 2017 report, the travel and tourism industry’s total contribution to GDP was P17, 7 billion in 2016 and was forecast to rise by 6,5 percent in the past year. 

However, Matsheka who has been the Chairperson of the advocacy body since 2013, noted with concerns that, while it has grown exponentially over the years, uncoordinated strategies and lack of consultations can only derail the sector. Department of Tourism, Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) and private sector-led HATAB are the key institutions that should work in sync in all matters that affect the industry. 

Matsheka, an economist by training who is respected by his peers, stopped short of saying the relationship between government and the industry is not one of the best and this will work against growth of the sector.  “The industry is growing on its own,” said Matsheka.  

He added that, all concerned stakeholders, government and the industry should have coordinated activities that are geared towards the same goal-of making Botswana the destination of choice for tourists.  Botswana still needs to be part of regional bodies that have been established to drive tourism. 

His reasons are that, tourism by nature is inter-linked between countries, hence the need to work as a collective in wooing tourists, especially within the SADC region. HATAB is fuming that government through the ministry of environment, natural resources and conservation has withdrawn Botswana’s membership at Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) without any consultation. 

Minister Tshekedi Khama has said it was prudent to cut ties with the body since its benefit is not noticeable apart from the P2 million subscription fee paid by government. The industry’s prosperity is also hindered by legislative frameworks which could have been long revised. The Tourism Policy of 1990, Tourism Master Plan of 2000, Wildlife and National Parks, Environmental and Impact Assessment Act are just some of the frameworks that should be revised since they are now an impediment to growth.  

Botswana, a landlocked country, has been advised to diversify within the sector itself, a move which could cement sustainability in the sector. Urban tourism has also been touted, but as things stand, the country still has to go a long way in diversifying within the multi-million sector.  “Without a progressive (tourism) master plan we cannot diversify within the sector,” said Matsheka. At the recent HATAB conference, tourism ministry’s deputy Permanent Secretary, Felix Mongae said the industry will soon have a new policy.  The industry should also utilise the tourism training levy to improved skills which is a critical component of growth. “The Levy is currently under-utilised,” noted Matsheka. HATAB, which was formed in 1982, represents over 300 players in the sector. The advocacy body is also encouraging its members to invest back in the community in which they operate, so as to have an inclusive growth. 

Published in News

Dikgosi have raised concern that there is a friction between Customary Law and Common Law which renders them (Dikgosi) inferior.

They say because they have not studied law, their powers are always questioned by their stakeholders more especially lawyers. Dikgosi believe they are not allowed to work in their own space as the law prescribes. One major issue is that once a case has been decided by a customary court, instead of following the laid down procedure of being taken to Customary Court of Appeal, some lawyers decide to jump the queue and take it to the High Court.

Manyana Senior Chief Representative, Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele stated that Dikgosi preside over 80 percent of cases in the country. He said if Dikgosi were not taking up such cases, magistrate courts could be overwhelmed by cases. Kgosi Mosielele said Batswana prefer customary courts because they are cheap, faster and accessible.

“People say we cannot try cases because we have not trained in law. But before colonial days Dikgosi were there and dealing with such cases. We are not here as Dikgosi to punish people we are here to reconcile. Of course we are not trained lawyers and there are a few of us who have Diploma in law but we believe with facts being there, deciding a case should not be such a problem.

“That is why we do not need lawyers at a Kgotla,” he said when speaking at Legal Aid Botswana stakeholders’ forum in Gaborone. Kgosi Mosielele said it is important as stakeholders to work together to ensure justice is served to everyone.

Senior Legal Aid Counsel, Mojaki Seope stated that there should not be any friction between the two. She pointed out that if anything the two have to complement each other. Seope explained that 90 percent of cases from customary courts are confirmed by the High Court. 

Published in News

Botswana Editors Forum (BEF) says it has observed the continued hostility by political parties towards the media.

BEF has indicated following its call on political parties to declare their stance on laws deemed to be oppressive to the media industry that none has done so. The statement by BEF comes following reports that Botswana Police forwarded the controversial ‘Tholwana Borethe’ docket to Directorate of Public Prosecution for action. 

The DPP has revealed that it is currently studying the docket and would decide whether to prosecute or not after assessing the case. BEF had wanted political parties to make their stance known on laws such as Sedition, Media Practitioners Act, National Security and the failure to enact a Freedom of Information law.

“Our position remains the same as BEF. We have observed that while parties do not want to say out their positions on these laws, increasingly all political parties are growing hostile to the media and getting closer and closer to the ruling BDP and its government,” said BEF Chairman Spencer Mogapi in an interview with this publication. 

Mogapi stated that in the meantime their international campaign continues. He indicated that they continue to appraise their international partners about the state of media in Botswana, the risk faced by journalists as a result of unfriendly laws. “We have urged the editors being investigated to continue to cooperate with authorities,” Mogapi stated.

Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in August last year filed a complaint with the police for investigations and possible prosecution of journalist who knowingly published articles that are false regarding ‘Tholwana Borethe’ Report.

Botswana Police in November invaded media houses and rounded up Editors to question them on alleged false reporting made in their publications. According to the police they were investigating the alleged false reports following a complaint by opposition parties. 

The meetings were held at Police Headquarters in Gaborone and chaired by Assistant Commissioner Mokuedi Mphathi. Five media houses - Botswana Guardian; Sunday Standard, Business Weekly and Review, Botswana Gazette and Mmegi Newspaper had their editors summoned to Police Headquarters at the government enclave. 

Attorney Dick Bayford represented the other three media houses while Kgosietsile Ngakaage represented Business Weekly and Review. BCP had complained that reports circulating in the media suggesting that Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) was eavesdropping on their phone conversations was instilling fear. According to information gathered the complainants are not happy that the DISS is interfering in politics. 

BCP made a report to the police following an alleged conversation recording by DISS between the then BCP Youth League President Tumiso Rakgare and former BCP Secretary General Kentse Rammidi. 

Published in News

Botswana Federation of Public Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) have engaged attorney Nelson Ramaotwana to represent about 65 dismissed Choppies employees in their case against the giant retail store.

Choppies workers at Westgate Mall embarked on a strike over salary increment on the 26th of March this year. The Choppies Management did not heed the workers’ plea, but instead dismissed workers after giving them an ultimatum to return to work within 24 hours. Their employment was terminated last month.

BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa confirmed to this publication that part of the assistance they have accorded the workers include legal representation by Ramaotwana. He revealed that the federation will also be mobilising Choppies workers across the country against acts of unfair labour practices, sheer arrogance and exploitation of workers by Choppies.

“Choppies is making lots of millions through the hard work of Batswana workers and consumers and yet it pays slave wages to the workers. Choppies also appears to be racially discriminatory as most of its Management is lined with Indians, and Batswana not trusted to be part of Management, yet the Company make huge profits in Botswana more than anywhere in countries of their stores,” stated Motshegwa. 

He said Ramaotwana would be helping the dismissed workers with their appeal and if they are not reinstated they would proceed with a legal suit against Choppies Westgate. In one of the appeal letters seen by this publication written to Chief Operation Officer, the employees acknowledge participating in the strike. The appellant has indicated that following an ultimatum to return to work within 24 hours they did so on the 27th of March 2018. 

“On the 27th of March when I arrived at work it was later announced that management had requested to meet four (4) representatives to discuss modus operandi of resuming work. I am advised that in law once an employee appears at work within the stipulated timeframe of 24 hours, the threat to expel cease forthwith. I was shocked to receive a letter summoning me for disciplinary hearing held on the 25th April 2018,” said the employee in the appeal letter.

On the grounds of appeal, the workers argue that the employer did not act fairly as some of the employees who participated in the strike were not fired. It is also argued that courts of law have held that an employer must apply the ‘parity principle’ when disciplining unprotected strikers; if the employer decides to dismiss one striker, it must dismiss them all; conversely, if one striker’s action is condoned, the action of all the other strikers should likewise be condoned.

“The employer failed to observe this time tested parity principle in that more than seventy-three strikers were not cited or summoned for disciplinary hearing; yet they partook in the said strike. They also resumed work with others on the 27th March 2018. Once an employer has issued an ultimatum, it is normally assumed to have waived the right to dismiss the strikers until the ultimatum expires. Common law dictates that once the employer allows the employees to resume, it is assumed that the employer has forgiven them and waives the right to discipline them for the strike,” reads the letter.

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