Kutwano Magashula – a gender activist in Botswana has started an online petition calling for the resignation of the country’s Gender Affairs minister – Anna Mokgethi.
The petition was signed by close to 600 people in its first three hours of launch on Friday and attracted huge interest amongst ‘Tweeps’ across the country. Tweeps is a general word used to describe users of the global social media platform – Twitter.
The social media users both on Facebook and Twitter could not hide their disappointment over utterances by Minister Mokgethi when debating a motion tabled by Mahalapye East Member of Parliament – Yandani Boko Friday morning.
Boko’s motion read in part, “That the house resolve to urge the President to set up a Commission of Inquiry on Gender Based Violence, Rape and other sexual offences as a matter of urgency”
When the Speaker of the national Assembly – Phandu Skelemani opened the floor, Mokgethi was the first to raise her hand opposing the debate on the matter saying its “not an urgent motion and should be deferred to next week Friday to allow the MPs to further engage on the matter at the general assembly”.
Mokgethi further stated that even if the motion was to be adopted by Parliament it might take a year for it to be put into action.
Mokgethi’s sentiments caused an uproar on Twitter Botswana which resulted in an online petition to the President – Mokgweetsi Masisi calling on him to drop her from cabinet.
The petition which gained popularity on both Facebook and Twitter read in part, “The Minister of Nationality, Immigration and GENDER Affairs, Anna Mokgethi said the motion is not urgent! This is disgraceful and unacceptable! Through these submissions, Anna Mokgethi has demonstrated that she is not fit to occupy her current office. She is a rape apologist who does not care for the lives of women and children who are violated every single day, she is a patriarchy princess who is self-serving and would rather see women and children brutalized, violated and killed than stand on the right side of history! She does not represent the interests of our nation and ought to be sacked or made to step down”
The call for Mokgethi’s resignation comes at a time when Botswana has been named in the top two countries in Africa where rape of women has been normalised.
The 2020 ranking by World Population Review has placed the tiny nation with just over 2 million people in the second spot after South Africa out of the top 10 countries with the highest rates of rape in the world. Botswana has the second highest rate of rapes in the world: 92.9% incidents per 100,000 people, according to the World Population Review. The organization explained that these figures do not take into account rape incidents that go unreported to the police.
The statistics by World Population Review are not unfounded. On 14th April this year, the Botswana Police Service revealed statistics of gender-based violence since the introduction of the national lockdown. Deputy Commissioner Operations – Dinah Marathe said from 23rd March 2020 to 5th April 2020, Botswana Police Services recorded 31 cases of defilement and 22 cases of rape.