Although the Botswana Public Service does not require citizens to undergo an HIV test as a pre-condition for employment, non-citizens are required to do so. This form of discrimination has attracted attention from activists fighting against any discrimination on one’s status.
In an interview with The Telegraph, The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) Legal Officer, Dikeledi Dingake, revealed that they have been receiving overwhelming cases of HIV/AIDS discrimination around the country in work places.
“Both public sector service and private sector cases cause concern and this is due to the absence of a legal mechanism that protects people’s rights concerning HIV employment law.
Minimizing and removing stigma and discrimination from those living with HIV has a long way to go,” said Dingake.
Uyapo Ndadi, the BONELA Director, told The Telegraph that the absence of the law undermines the positive efforts made by government thus far.
“Our government must step up and show its commitment to addressing the plight of HIV positive workers and enact protective legislation,” Ndadi said. “On the one-hand, government is providing free access to anti-retroviral drugs (ARV) that naturally prolong people’s lives and, on the other hand, people who are healthy owing to the beauty of ARV are excluded from work opportunities and some are even fired.”
Countries such as Namibia and Zimbabwe are alive and sensitive to needs of HIV positive workers, he said.
“As a result of this frustration, we are currently lobbying members of Parliament to come up with a private member’s bill on the law in November this year,” added Ndadi. “The bill will be a clear sign that the government cares about the welfare of the nation.”
BONELA has grown into a strong and highly recognized voice in the fight against the HIV/AIDS in Botswana.
It also is a network of concerned individuals, groups and organizations interested in protecting and promoting the rights of people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.