1st December 2019

WORLD AIDS DAY 2019: “COMMUNITIES MAKE THE DIFFERENCE”

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) is an organization with an un-paralleled track record in the fight for the rights of those most affected by HIV/AIDS. Over the past 20 years, BONELA has relentlessly advocated for a rights based approach to HIV programming, particularly the rights of vulnerable and marginalized populations such as Men who have Sex with other Men (MSM), LGBTI, Sex Workers, children, women, refugees, prisoners, mine workers and people with disabilities. We have consistently used public dialogue, education on human rights and strategic impact litigation to ensure that the rights of communities are promoted, protected and fulfilled. This we have done within the confines of the laws of Botswana.

BONELA has always maintained that for us to end AIDS, we have to recognize and acknowledge communities and place them at the center of the national response to HIV. Communities have proven themselves to be leaders in innovation, disruption, and creativity; which are necessary elements or ingredients to help us move closer to the much anticipated goal of ending AIDS.

We are therefore particularly pleased that this year’s World AIDS Day Commemoration theme: ‘’Communities Make the Difference’’, is an attempt by the international community to place the community response high on the agenda, thus amplifying the voices of communities, particularly those who are vulnerable, marginalized and most affected by HIV/AIDS. The theme also provides a rare opportunity, for us as a nation to reflect on the role of communities in the realization of our goal of ending AIDS by 2030.

The third National Strategic Framework acknowledges the role played by communities and commits that at-least 30% of all HIV programmes should be delivered by, and through communities. This is indeed plausible and we hope that the Ministry of Health and Wellness, through NAHPA, will make this aspiration a reality.

In 2017, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in partnership with UNDP, conducted a Legal Environment Assessment to identify legal and policy barriers that negatively impact on the national response to HIV/AIDS. The LEA report highlighted that there are a number of policies and laws that should be reviewed, including the 2013 Public Health Act which violates people’s right to confidentiality, dignity and privacy by empowering a health practitioner to disclose their status without their consent. This law is not consistent with human rights principles and must be reviewed.

Furthermore, the LEA identifies criminalization as a barrier to enabling access to services free from stigma and discrimination. Some of the criminalized populations include Sex Workers and Men who have Sex with other Men. The Penal Code in particular is consistently used by the Police to push these communities to the margins, and further away from HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services. The BBSS Study of 2018 has shown us that Sex Workers have the highest HIV prevalence in Botswana, while Men who have Sex with other Men remain increasingly vulnerable to HIV infection. It is against this background that we advocate for the removal of such legal barriers in order to ensure that these communities actively and effectively participate in the national response to HIV/AIDS. This year’s World AIDS Day theme dictates thus.

Gender Based Violence and harmful gender norms, remain the greatest challenge facing our nation. Botswana is rated second in the world with regards to rape /and or sexual violence statistics. This is a national crisis! The relationship between HIV, GBV and sexual violence has been widely reported and documented. The problem of GBV is a community problem. It highlights the challenges of a nation whose family structure, as a basis for national and social cohesion, is disintegrating. We therefore call on government, through the able leadership of President Masisi to declare a national emergency, as a call to action to address Gender Based Violence. The national GBV strategy, acknowledges the critical role played communities in addressing GBV, in-line with the theme for World AIDS day. However, the strategy remains under-funded, and the community component least funded, hence our call for increased investment.

In recent years, Botswana has experienced unprecedented drug stock-outs. This challenge is largely attributed to inefficiencies within the medicine supply chain, more pronounced at Central Medical Stores. We therefore urge the Ministry of Health and Wellness, under the able leadership of the new Minister, Dr Lemogang Kwape to hold officers to account. People must be held accountable, and those found to be thwarting government efforts towards universal health coverage should be relieved of their duties. We have faith in the new administration, and have no doubt that drug stock outs will form part of our distant unpleasant history.

BONELA pays homage to Civil Society Organizations in Botswana who individually and collectively, have contributed immensely to the national response to HIV/AIDS. Ours has always been and will always be an act of national service, characterized by pain, sacrifice, courage but most importantly fulfillment. Let’s continue working hard; the end of AIDS is insight! To the fallen heroes and heroines of the struggle, we remember, acknowledge and celebrate your efforts under the theme: Communities make a difference.

For more information contact BONELA on:

+267 393 2516 or Cindy Kelemi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Tebogo Gareitsanye at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow BONELA on Twitter @bonelaethics and like our Facebook Page BONELA

20.11.2019-BONELA RESPONDS TO THE 2019 STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

  1. On Monday 18th November 2019, His Excellency President Dr. Eric Keabetswe Mokgweetsi Masisi delivered the State of the Nation Address.
  1. In his introduction, His Excellency informed the nation that the current National Development Plan (2017-2023) is under review. Recognizing the contribution made by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the development of the nation; BONELA therefore appeals to His Excellency to ensure that space for CSOs to meaningfully engage in the review process is created. It is crucial that CSOs feed into the national plan to ensure that all populations and programmes; even those not directly executed or implemented by government are planned for, and so, well resourced.
  1. The President further noted that government will facilitate review of the Constitution of Botswana. BONELA celebrates this move to review the Constitution which provides the opportunity to include social, economic and cultural rights so as to ensure that they are constitutionally protected.
  1. BONELA applauds His Excellency for the decision to provide ARVs to non-citizens. Consequently, BONELA urges the Ministry of Health and Wellness to develop guidelines for the implementation of this policy to ensure services provided are standardized and devoid of ambiguity.
  1. People with Disabilities continue to face all manner of discrimination and live on the margins of society. It is disappointing that the Policy for People with Disabilities as well as the Disability Law are still yet to tabled before Parliament. BONELA therefore demands that the enactment of these legal instruments be high on the agenda as their absence has proven to impede the ability of People with Disabilities in Botswana to fully enjoy their rights.
  1. The President noted an increase in the number of learners with special needs accessing education from 5349 in 2017, to 5400 in 2018. While BONELA celebrates this development, we however note with concern that there are limits imposed on the academic progress of children with disabilities due to lack of sufficient space reserved for these leaners at Junior and Senior Schools. This systemic discrimination is further compounded by the lack of teachers with the requisite skills to impart education on children with disabilities. BONELA therefore urges the government, as led by His Excellency, to ensure that education is truly inclusive and that the Children’s Act of 2009; which recognizes the special needs of children with disabilities, is fully implemented.

For more information; please contact BONELA at +267 393 2516 / Cindy Kelemi on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73586886/ Tebogo Gareitsanye on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73297509 and like our Facebook Page BONELA.

BONELA CALLS ON MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT TO ACT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF BATSWANA

 

  1. The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) applauds the Honorable Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central, Dr Phenyo Butale for bringing before the House of Assembly a motion that:
  1. a)Calls on Government to expand the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana to include socio-economic and cultural rights so as to ensure justiciability of such rights.
  2. AND, FURTHER, to take the Constitutional Amendment Bill proposed herein to a referendum process in keeping with the provisions of section 89(4) of the Constitution.
  1. BONELA has consistently maintained that constitutionalizing second generation rights such as the right to health, right to education, right to decent living wage, reflects the need to protect the most fundamental interests of Batswana in having resources that are necessary for the exercise of their well-being.
  1. BONELA further argues that the effective realization of the rights currently provided for in the constitution depends on these socio economic and cultural rights- Of what use is the right to dignity if one is illiterate because their parents could not afford to send them to school? Or of what use is the right to life if one is denied basic health services because they could not afford it?
  1. In addition to the above, a solid culture of socio-economic rights, rooted in justiciable constitutional provisions, can help to ensure that vulnerable groups, especially poor people are entitled to a fair share of national resources and are able to enjoy the material conditions essential for their dignity and well-being.
  1. Conclusively, the most effective way to recognize and enforce these rights is to include them in the constitution which is the supreme law of the state. Amending the constitution to accommodate these rights also raises a political expectation that the provision of services is a legitimate and expected role of the government.
  1. We therefore urge Honorable Members of Parliament, to act in the best interest of Batswana, particularly those most vulnerable and poor members of the society, by positively engaging and considering the aforementioned motion brought before parliament with the view to improve the quality of life of all Batswana.

For more information; please contact BONELA at +267 393 2516 and like our Facebook Page BONELA or Cindy Kelemi on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 72385054/ Tebogo Gareitsanye on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73297509.

BONELA CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO REVIEW ITS PROCUREMENT PROCESSES OF ESSENTIAL MEDICINES INCLUDING ARVS

Today 15th November 2019, the High Court of Appeal delivered a judgement in favour of the Ministry of Health in a case between the Ministry of Health and Wellness and Portfolio Pharmaceuticals Botswana (PTY) Ltd. over the procurement of 7 drugs – among them ARVs. In August 2019, the High Court acceded to the Pharmaceutical company’s request for an interdict against the Ministry of Health and Wellness; essentially preventing the Ministry from procuring drugs elsewhere while the parties are resolving their dispute. A panel of 3 judges - namely Judge J.P Kirby, Judge J. A. Lesetedi and Judge J. A. Walia - set aside the decision of the High Court and lifted the interdict.

BONELA commends the court of appeal for handing down a judgement that is in favour of People Living with HIV who are in need of Anti- Retro Viral Treatment. It is also a judgement that affirms the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right to health.

BONELA has been following the case with keen interest. Consequently, BONELA engaged the Ministry, which insisted that there is no shortage of ARVs as a result of the ongoing dispute. BONELA has also been reliably informed that the Ministry made a contingency plan following the interdict, by way of appealing to partners in its existing treatment network to buffer the shortage pending resolution of the dispute. BONELA commends the international community’s commitment to helping Botswana not only achieve epidemic control and ending AIDS by 2030, but by also ensuring fidelity in its treatment programme and continuum of care.

BONELA maintains that Government needs to put the interests of Batswana first in all its dealings and therefore calls on Government to:

  1. Review its procurement policies and processes by removing barriers such as awarding exclusivity contracts for essential medicines. This will allow the country flexibility in instances where transitioning from one supplier to another is required and to ensure the uninterrupted supply of essential medicines.
  2. There is need for greater transparency and accountability. BONELA urges the Ministry of Health to communicate with the public to curb the spread of misinformation and public alarm.
  3. BONELA appeals to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board and the Independent Complaints Review Committee to find a swift and cost effect resolution to this dispute.

For more information; please contact BONELA at +267 393 2516 and like our Facebook Page BONELA or Cindy Kelemi on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73586886/ Tebogo Gareitsanye on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73297509.

16TH JUNE 2019-DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD PRESS STATEMENT

 

This years’ theme is Humanitarian Action in Africa- Children’s Rights First.

16 June is a remarkable day as we remember the Soweto uprising where black students took to the streets in protest against being taught in a language that was not theirs. BONELA has become the voice of many Batswana youth and children who have been oppressed in practising their Human Rights. On this day, we reflect on our efforts in continuing to make Children’s Rights a reality in Botswana.

Guided by the2009 Botswana Children’s Act, we acknowledge that a child is a person under the age of 18. As an organization we realise that this is an age group that is greatly affected and faces a challenge in enjoying their Rights. Some of the matters that are of high concern are the following:

  • Neglect and Child-headed Families- The HIV pandemic has left many children as orphans putting responsibilities on the eldest child who takes the role of a parent and abandons their dreams. We have parents that have also left their children to work in the Urban Centres leaving their day to day responsibilities with children.
  • Teenage Pregnancies- This has seen a lot of future leaders dropping out of school to take care of their children. While we all know that pregnancy is a result of unprotected sex, this also exposes most children to HIV and STIs and defilement.
  • Human Trafficking- Children in Botswana are being abducted and used for sex and their organs for ritual ceremonies and beliefs. Social media is used to ensnare youth who are then taken to other cities and countries for prostitution.
  • Sexual Abuse-As young as a day old, children are being molested and sexually. Some cases are family members abusing children and these children are being prevented from reporting so as not to tarnish their family name.
  • Children born of Batswana fathers and non-citizen mothers –These children face challenges in accessing Identification cards which hinder them in accessing proper health services.

While this is a few of the many cases and situations happening in Botswana, we pride ourselves with standing for Children Rights in Botswana. We acknowledge every organization that is working to make Children’s rights a reality and we encourage each other to continue fighting until every child is free from abuse and can claim their rights.

This year BONELA calls on parents, guardian, teachers, civil and community leaders, traditional leaders, social workers and the community at large to live the principle of Botho in ensuring that every decision made is at the best interest of a child.

For more information; please contact BONELA at +267 393 2516 and like our Facebook Page BONELA or Cindy Kelemi on

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73586886/ Tebogo Gareitsanye on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +267 73297509.

Page 1 of 2

Style Selector

Layout Style

Predefined Colors

Background Image