Mmegi Blogs :: Respect human rights, rule of law and institutions
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Friday 19 January 2018, 18:00 pm.
Respect human rights, rule of law and institutions

Admitted, we have weak and not so caring pressure groups in Botswana. Granted, we have rather weak human rights oversight bodies. Accepted, our civil society is a very fearful one or rather disengaged or not interested in the realities of modern-day Botswana.
By Owen Nsala Wed 30 Aug 2017, 17:45 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Respect human rights, rule of law and institutions

That, however, must not be used by the sitting government as a blank cheque to abuse human rights or demonstrate a flagrant disregard to the rule of law or institutions.

Botswana at one point was a celebrated African jewel. A small land-locked country that miraculously survived the African disease of abuse of state resources, corruption, disregard to the rule of law and upholding of human rights. Our education system was buzzing and the world was watching with admiration as the government provided free education for all and health facilities were being provided for the citizenry. The cherry on top was the provision of Anti Retroviral Therapy to those affected by HIV/AIDS.

The Government further went out of its way to introduce institutions meant to work as oversights for and over government. The Office of the Ombudsman was formed. The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) was established and all these institution meant to protect the prevailing peace and reduce looting of government resources. The institutions were introduced on realisation that human beings are mere mortals and may be tempted to get their pockets lined, should there be no legislation guarding against such.

The reality on the present ground paints a very sad and sobering picture on the trajectory the country has taken. The DCEC and the Ombudsman have lost their bite and maybe taste. Well, from the onset the office of the Ombudsman was given very limited powers in terms of its investigative powers. Whether deliberate or not, history will someday judge. The DCEC has no such excuse based on the legal instrument that forms it. The problem lies more on the implementation of the Act by those so given powers under it. The suggestion by some local newspapers that the head of the DCEC was pushed out to safeguard the interest of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security invites so much darkness in the room. A noble institution is being turned into a political chessboard where those with powers move officers as if they were pawns, kings and queens. Check mate.

It doesn’t end there. The Judiciary has been infiltrated by the Executive. Where is Judge Omphemetse Motumise? Sorry, rather Attorney Motumise? There was a slip of the pen there, and I found myself in annoyance writing Judge instead of Attorney Motumise. Did the Court not rule that the President must act on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission and the resultant product must be the appointment of Motumise? Is this not a flagrant disregard of


the rule of law by those in power?

The reality is, we have moved several steps back in our desire to promote and maintain human rights and on this aspect, one can do no more than blame legislators who are keen to play safe and hide behind the adage if not broken, why fix it. The truth however, is that it’s not the fear of legislating for human rights that Parliament is worried about, it is the consequential reliefs that follow making second generation rights find their way into the Constitution. It is the fear that there will be a backlash as litigants crowd courts against government for the enforcement of such rights, some of which government is reluctant to bend over. It’s the thought and imagination of making the provision of water and medical treatment for all a human right that troubles government.

The government knows that should it be said that the right to water is a Constitutional one, there will be revolt from Basarwa who have been denied access to water in the past on account that there is no such right and consequently no obligation to provide by government. Political expediency has taken over the desire to better people’s livelihoods. Political self-preservation has been put at the forefront of denial of essential second generation human rights to avoid the backlash of courtroom litigation and demonstrable failure by the government. The government enjoys its comfort and sleep and will do very little to cause disturbance to its much needed sleep.

Can one imagine for how long the asylum seekers would have remained at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants if Attorney Morgan Moseki did not intervene to protect the rights of those asylum seekers? Is it even imaginable or conceivable that those at Government Enclave all along did not know that the detention of the innocent mothers and children at Francistown was illegal? They knew, but because we have a government that cares very little about human rights, it was convenient for them to sweep it off the carpet. If the government could deny its people water, what more of those that do not hold citizenship? As a new broom enters the State House in 2018, the hope is that my complaints above will be a thing of the past. The hope is that the promotion of the rule of law and not the rule by law will be the order of the day. Institutions will be respected and so would human rights.


Guilty As Charged
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