Peter Tshukudu, the spokesperson of Botswana’s human rights body, Ditshwanelo, has denied that his organisation did not properly handle donor money meant for Zimbabweans, saying that they did what was expected of them.
Tshukudu further denied that the organisation had become irrelevant as it had not openly condemned human rights abuses carried out by state bodies, such as those of security, in the country.
Speaking in an interview, Tshukudu said that they are still relevant and stand for the rights of people like they have always done.
“We are relevant and stand for the rights of the people like we have always done,” he said.
Tshukudu said that the fact that they have not openly spoken against abuses does not mean that they are not doing anything about it.
“We do not operate through the media as there is no need to do that,” he said.
Asked to say precisely what they are doing about human rights abuses by state security agencies, which have been accused of, amongst other things, torturing and even killing suspects, he said that they address such cases once they have been reported to them.
Pressed to give examples of such cases they are currently handling, Tshukudu declined, saying doing so would be a breach of the confidentiality they have with their clients.
Accusations against Ditshwanelo are that it has since become docile as it never confronts human rights abusers, such as state security agencies, especially the police and the Directorate of Security and Intelligence Services, whose operations have caused an out cry in the country.
One of Ditshwanelo’s accusers, Hebert Tembwe, says that he has even forgotten that there is a human rights body in the country. According to him, he has, over recent years, never seen a single statement from them.
Tembwe says that the last statement he remembers seeing from the organisation was during the CKGR case but after that, he has not seen any other statement from them.
“I honestly do not remember seeing anything from them after the CKGR case,” he said.
Asked to comment on this, Tshukudu reiterated what he had said before, that they do not conduct their affairs through the media, and further denied that they only go after cases such as the CKGR for publicity and fund-raising reasons.
“It is definitely not true that we take cases for fund raising purposes and publicity reasons,” he said.
On accusations that they did not properly distribute money they were given by some donor organisations to help Zimbabweans who were fleeing from political violence in their country last year, Tshukudu denied this, saying that they had done what was expected of them quite well by giving the money to deserving Zimbabweans.
“We gave them the money as we were supposed to do and we have records to prove that,” he said.
He, however, declined to say how much money they were given by the donor nations and how many Zimbabweans had benefited from it. Some sources are saying that there are Zimbabweans who were supposed to benefit from the money who have not seen even a single thebe of the amount.
In a telephone interview, a Zimbabwean refugee at Dukwi Refugee camp, who refused to be named, said he did not know of any one in their Zimbabwean contingent who received anything from Ditshwanelo since their arrival at Dukwi at the height of election violence last year.