Friday, August 12, 2022

UDC also leaves out political hot potato of homosexuality

One of the five pillars of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) election manifesto talks about a system in which all citizens are entitled to protection under the Constitution.

Under this pillar coined “No one is left out” the party promises to develop a bill of rights which includes second generation rights such as the right to reasonable levels of education, healthcare, housing and minority language rights.

Curiously the party’s “No one is left out” pillar is silent on whether or not second generation rights under the UDC government extend to sexual minorities. The UDC like other political parties, including the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has ┬áconveniently left out same sex relationships in its 2014 election manifesto.

Former President Festus Mogae elected not  to act  on the somewhat vexing issue of homosexuality for fear of losing an election over the rights of sexual minorities only to become vocal  and in favour  of decriminalization of the act after leaving office.

While the UDC is┬ásilent on the┬árepeal┬á of legislation which criminalizes homosexuality, deemed discriminatory and unconstitutional by activists and Botswana’s friends in the West, the party nevertheless says under its government it will consult citizens on the proposed review of the Constitution.

The UDC underscores what political parties have been harping on for years under successive BDP governments; the introduction of political funding,  promulgation of law that makes the appointment of Permanent Secretaries, Commissioner of Police, Commander of the Army, Heads of the military departments, Head of DIS, Head of National Security Council, Ambassadors, Governor of Bank of Botswana and other key Government officials subject to confirmation by a parliamentary process and others by the Public Service Commission.  To this end, such appointments are the prerogative of the executive and by implication the President.

The only competitor in the coming election without an official website, the UDC says it will introduce e-Government to facilitate services delivery such as checking applications for licenses, status of applications and making queries online. It will integrate Government services by providing service points at which citizens will receive a menu of Government services from a single service point.

The party says it will introduce transparency by publishing a six monthly review of the nature of involvement in business by Government Ministers and senior Government officials based on guidelines as will be prescribed by the Auditor General. The party also promises to restore cordial relations between government and the trade unions, as well as embrace the strengthening of established institutions such as the Bargaining Council.

The party promises to review the electoral system to promote broader representation particularly women, and also youth and people living with disabilities, as well as take all the steps necessary to cultivate an environment of fair and credible elections. It promises to introduce a accountable, transparent and ethical system of governance through a regime of declaration of asserts by public officials and freedom of information bill among others.

It will also appoint a public broadcasting board independent of Government control, and responsible for Botswana Television, Radio Botswana, and future public broadcasters.

The UDC says it will review procedures for the appointment of judges and ensure it is beyond reproach in manner that fosters the independence of the judiciary.

The party also reverberates what political parties have been yearning for under successive BDP governments to introduce political funding in accordance with international best practice. The UDC says it will integrate Government services by providing service points at which citizens will receive a menu of Government services from a single service point.

 The party says it will introduce transparency by publishing a 6 monthly review of the nature of involvement in business by Government Ministers and senior Government officials based on guidelines as will be prescribed by the auditor general.  Restore cordial relations between government and the trade unions.

The UDC promises to restore professionalism in the top echelons of the security forces by curtailing what it calls undue influence of the Presidency in the affairs of such institutions.  The UDC manifesto says there will be a review of the constitution to grant parliament its full legislative mandate through the establishment of its fully-fledged administrative autonomy. Entrench all the key institutions in a democracy: Independent Electoral Commission, Auditor General and Ombudsman and make them accountable directly to parliament. Promulgate law that makes the appointment of executive such as Permanent Secretaries, Commissioner of Police, Commander of the Army.

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