The Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso this week slammed Members of Parliament and the political leadership for not doing enough to help sex workers.
Commenting on presentations by various speakers at the just ended National Aids Council (NAC) meeting this week, Tshireletso said “there is fear gripping Members of Parliament when it comes to issues of sex workers. Our Members of Parliament are afraid to discuss issues relating to sex workers openly.”
Turning to officials of the National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA), Tshireletso also did not have kind words for the officials as she fell short of accusing them of sleeping on the job. “You as mandated by the government should talk about these things because it is also a field that you are knowledgeable about; politicians are afraid to talk openly about these things,” she said.
Tshireletso further challenged NACA officials to inform and educate the leadership on issues and challenges faced by sex workers saying such information could help in policy change.
She said the latest model called CATCH aimed at developing and implementing a community centred HIV prevention strategy does include sex workers.
Responding to Tshireletso’s concerns, NACA coordinator Grace Muzila said “I think we are going somewhere. If you look at our proposal to the Global Fund we have included them.” Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi said an impression had been created that the leadership did not want to address or talk about issues relating to sex workers.
“Don’t worry, we will talk about them. We will talk about everything to do with HIV. We will talk about them. These are people related to us,” said Masisi.
For his part, Director, HIV Prevention Joseph Kefas said when they addressed councillors at Ngamiland District Council they were informed by the Ngamiland leadership that “we have serious sex work problems and a high level of unemployment; so much disparity in terms of economic status.”
He added that issues relating to sex workers and gays was not only sensitive but difficult to handle.
“We are seeking guidance and interventions from the Parliament’s committee on HIV/AIDS,” he said.