1. The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) condemns, in the strongest possible terms the punitive approach by government to address issues affecting key populations.
2. We celebrated when government undertook the study to estimate the incidence and prevalence of HIV infection among female sex workers (FSW), men who have sex with other men (MSM) and people who inject drugs (PWID); measure the prevalence of syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia, among FSW, MSM and PWID; and estimate the size of two populations namely FSW, and MSM in three districts of Botswana. We accordingly collaborated with nested organisations and mobilised our members in the sex work and men who have sex with other men community to take part in the survey in the belief that the government will use the findings to create an inclusive and accommodative environment.
3. The Botswana government has now done what is totally unexpected and deviated from the study findings by taking punitive, discriminatory, homophobic and xenophobic measures. That is unethical! BONELA is of the view that she was used to sell the rights of these groups.
4. Furthermore; the Botswana National Strategic Framework II on HIV and AIDS (NSF II), has identified stigma and discrimination as one of the key drivers of HIV so it is disheartening that while we are making efforts in health interventions and evidence based programming (research), such developments by the Ministry of Health and NACA derail our initiatives of ensuring non-discrimination in access to social services by all. BONELA and partners condemn this as a total disregard of human rights.
5. It is our belief that doing this will reverse the gains made thus far as key populations will go further into hiding, making access and utility to health services impossible.
6. The draft Strategies to Address Key Populations document is also sending inconsistent messages because while it promises to ‘avail’ services to FSW, MSM and PWID through the Ministry of Health and NACA to reduce stigma, it further states that an agreement was reached with law enforcers (Police & Immigration) to arrest them, deport and evoke permits-even availing themselves over weekends.
7. The said strategy also fails to make linkages between health, social and economic factors in order to mitigate the effects of socio-economic status on HIV, and ignoring this has proved to be catastrophic elsewhere in the world.
8. Lastly; we trust that our government will retreat and abandon this strategy.
For more information contact BONELA on 3932516.
BY UYAPO NDADI
(Executive Director )
For more information contact BONELA Awareness Raising Team on 3932516.
Thank you all for attending our Press Conference. Without much ado, I am here to announce that the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS Executive Director, Mr. Uyapo Ndadi, would step down at the end of December 2013. He has notified the BONELA Board of his intention to leave at the end of his contract in December 2013 and we have accepted his decision. He has been at the helm of BONELA since June 2009. Previously he was a volunteer in the Legal Department which he set up from 2004 as a law student. Upon graduating in 2006, he joined Collins Newman & Co and later on rejoined us as Legal Officer in 2007.
I would like to thank Ndadi for his sterling contribution to our work and his astute leadership. His love for BONELA and the cause is unquestionable. In 2011, Ndadi wanted to leave to pursue his other ambitions, and the then Board managed to convince him to stay. This time around we thought it would be selfish of us to attempt to stop him but rather to celebrate his contribution.
Under Ndadi’s leadership, we saw BONELA transform to be a household name, and very divisive in nature. Everyone has an opinion about what BONELA does, be it on the rights of people living with HIV or AIDS or sexual minorities. Ndadi has confronted issues with impeccable and admirable courage and resilience. We would remember him for successfully lobbying Members of Parliament to reject, modify or accept policies and laws. The Public Health law is one such example. He has developed the jurisprudence of Botswana’s legal system by working on cases of HIV dismissals at the workplace, wrongful HIV diagnosis and invasion of privacy. His efforts have been noticed by people locally and internationally, including eminent persons such as Barack Obama, who has previously invited him to the Whitehouse. He is also a recipient of an international award conferred on him by Junior Chamber International for being one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the world (TOYP).
Mr Ndadi led BONELA in the review of its strategy that saw BONELA transform from being an organization that works by itself to being a true network that works through and with others. The new strategy resulted in the change of the BONELA constitution, which he led and also led to BONELA restructuring and retrenching. These processes were difficult and required someone with a level of maturity and wisdom in the person of Ndadi.
Ndadi’s leaving BONELA will be a big loss, but we are comfortable that he has built and maintained a strong institutional foundation with a formidable team that will steer the ship forward. It is not surprising that BONELA is today, a member of the International AIDS Alliance family as a Linking Organization in Botswana. BONELA was accredited after a vigorous process of due diligence on our programming and organizational governance and accountability. BONELA has received numerous awards locally and regionally for being an effective, efficient and accountable organization. Last week we were awarded an award by PMR Africa for doing an ‘Excellent’ work in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Ndadi has also assured me that wherever he is going, he will remain in touch with the issues, aligned to our core values, and will continue to offer his expertise to the extent possible. Ndadi and BONELA will remain inseparable.
We are working closely with our partners to ensure the transition of the Executive Director is smooth. We are embarking on an extensive recruitment process to identify a suitable candidate to take over from Ndadi and provide dynamic leadership for BONELA beyond 2013. We are confident that even after Ndadi, BONELA will continue to enjoy stakeholders support and patronage.
As I conclude, I will personally remember Ndadi as an approachable, level-headed and intelligent lawyer, blogger, teacher and above all, a spirited activist. I wish him well in his future aspirations.
BY TSHIAMO RANTAO
(Board Chairperson-on behalf of the Board)