The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/ AIDS (BONELA) says it will up the ante during the election year to mobilize Botswana’s civil society, stakeholders and members of the public against government’s reluctance to amend the constitution by among others ratifying and domesticating the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights (ICESCR), also known as socio economic rights.
BONELA’s legal Advisor, Keikantse Phele, said in an interview that their campaign could not have come at a better time as Botswana is preparing to go to the polls in October this year.
“We are quite positive that the campaign will bear fruit because people want representatives that they can hold accountable. We want them to tell the electorates their stance on this issue. These are rights, not privileges,” she said.
According to Phele, should ICESCR be ratified, they will encompass rights of other marginalised members of society such as gays and lesbians.
“A gay man for instance will be able to take government to court if need be and demand that he be provided with special health interventions or services,” she said.
The ICESCR will also enable people to hold their leaders and representatives accountable. On the health aspect, Phele said the ratification of socio economic rights would enable Botswana to have a stigma free nation. BONELA said it will kick-start the national campaign on IECSCR from May to October this year. The campaign will be undertaken under the theme “from privileges to rights” and will be collaboratively implemented by BONELA and its partners.
“The campaign seeks to┬áhold government representatives accountable and pressurize them to ratify the ICESCR and ensure that second generation rights are┬áentrenched┬áin the constitution as they are currently not provided for,” read the BONELA statement.
BONELA said the campaign aims to highlight that socio-economic rights matter most to the wellbeing and quality of people’s lives as without them the right to life is extremely compromised. BONELA reaffirmed its position that the election year is an opportune time to make a difference in the way people’s economic, social and cultural rights are viewed in Botswana. Ratification of this covenant would mean that Botswana adopts and adapts to a rights based constitution that enables the┬áprotection┬áand fulfilment of┬áits citizens’ rights to second generation rights.