Sunday, July 14, 2024

Ditshwanelo faces danger of looming collapse

The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, or Ditshwanelo, has expressed fears that its future hangs in the balance as it is struggling to get financial support and is cash strapped.

This emerged in the minutes of a meeting that was held towards the end of last year to update donors about the current human rights issues on which they are engaged in. The briefing was also attended by representatives from the EU, French and German Embassies.

According to the minutes of the meeting, while Ditshwanelo is undoubtedly doing good work in the area of Human Rights, the organization’s future looks bleak as they are struggling financially.

“The funding they have been receiving from the Finnish Embassy in Pretoria to pay for utilities and staff salaries ran out in December 2012. A couple of suggestions on how they could raise money were raised by the participants but Alice Mogwe said they had tried everything possible,” state the minutes of the meeting.

Ditshwanelo also revealed that it is currently conducting a natural resource mapping exercise to come up with a people centred land management plan that includes looking at community use zones, culture and potential for tourism for the area.

The aim is to present the findings to the government of Botswana as an alternative management plan for the CKGR.
The Director, Alice Mogwe, is hopeful that the first draft will be ready by the end of the year and that it will form the basis for further talks with the Government.

“The CKGR appears not to be a priority to the Government at the moment; this might make it difficult for Ditswhwanelo to have the Government buy into their alternative management plan. The fact that there is a new Minister at the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism will also not help the situation. The new Minister might need more time to familiarise himself with the CKGR issue,” state the minutes.

A stakeholder report that was coordinated by Ditshwanelo has been submitted by organisations such as Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisations, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) and Rainbow Identity.

At the briefing, Mogwe reportedly said the report they submitted identifies key challenges and makes recommendations.

Key concerns raised in their submission include, among others, lack of a National Human Rights strategy ÔÇô Mogwe said at the last UPR in 2008, Botswana made a commitment to establish an independent National Human rights institution whose mandate will be to ensure that Government complies with human rights instruments it has ratified. The institution has yet to be established hence the working groups’ call for clear timeframes for implementation.

Mogwe also said that they made a recommendation for Botswana’s customary law should to be harmonised with international instruments so that it does not discriminate on the basis of gender.
She cited the customary law that denies daughters the right to inherit their late parents’ property, especially houses and cattle.

Ditshwanelo also called on Government to provide ARVs to non citizens in Botswana prisons and for the abolition of the Penal code clause that criminalises homosexuality.

Their argument is based on the fact that the Botswana Constitution is against any form of discrimination. They have also made recommendations for abolition of corporal punishments and for clarity on the criteria used for Presidential pardons.

Ditshwanelo spokesperson, Thuto Geleitsiwe, declined to respond to queries from Sunday Standard.


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