15 August 2011:
BONELA Applauds Parliamentarians for Rejecting the Draft 2010 HIV/AIDS Policy
The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) applauds Members of Parliament (MPs) for pressurizing the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi to withdraw the draft 2010 HIV and AIDS Policy presented in parliament last week.
This move by MPs is progressive and gives confidence to the nation that they are serious about parliamentary business and their recognition that the business as usual approach will fail the people of Botswana.
Commenting on this development, BONELA Executive Director, Uyapo Ndadi said: “this demonstrated responsiveness of parliamentarians is commendable because they listened to the voice of reason. This has ushered in a new era in Botswana in the HIV and AIDS arena because if the draft policy had gone through, the country would have taken 10 steps back in its response to HIV and AIDS.”
The rejected draft 2010 HIV and AIDS Policy was presented last week in parliament without consultation with relevant stakeholders. BONELA then issued a statement to parliamentarians that gave 10 reasons why they should reject the policy.
Ndadi added; “I am impressed that BONELA’s concerns with the draft policy were taken into cognizance by parliamentarians and this gives relevance to the work we do as an advocacy organization. It is the hope of BONELA that henceforth, the necessary due diligence, through consultation will be exercised and as an organization, we are ready to offer our expertise in drafting the policy. This victory is not only for BONELA but for the army men and women who were to be subjected to the inhumane and degrading HIV testing before being considered for employment.”
Among other things BONELA’s statement stated that the nefarious policy was a far cry from ensuring the global goal of universal access to prevention, treatment and care that can only be achieved by a human rights-based approach. To this extent, the policy left out most at risk populations such as sex workers, foreign prisoners, refugees, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered and intersexed individuals, although the foreword .of the policy by Minister Masisi refers to the need to respond to challenges posed by sexual orientation.
BONELA is a national network of individuals and organizations that promotes a just and inclusive environment to ensure the quality of life for people affected by HIV and AIDS through advocacy and capacity building.