TRIBAL CHIEFS LAUNCH ‘DIKGOSI DI XADILE’
With teenage pregnancies in both Maun and Ngamiland District on the rise, tribal leaders in the tourist town have vowed to take a stand against the defilement of underage girls.
The leaders warned defilers such cases will no longer be treated as internal family matters.
Instead they will refer incidents to social workers, who in turn will report perpetrators to the police for prosecution.
Highlighting the extent of the problem, Kgosi Prince Shashe of Shashe ward said, “In my ward we have 10 to 13 year olds who are mothers. Some of them were preyed upon by married men, but their cases were dealt with at home because the men would have promised to care for them and the baby.”
Kgosi Shashe noted that due to poverty, which he admitted is rampant in his ward, desperate parents agree to keep silent so they can benefit financially from the ‘wrong doing’, albeit out of ignorance of the law.
“Some times parents just blame the child for allowing herself to get pregnant and they are not even aware that the older man has in fact committed a crime. And those that are aware reason that if the man goes to prison, there will be no one to support both the young mother and the baby,” continued the chief.
He added that as tribal leaders they intend to visit local schools and hold talks with both boys and girls on matters of sexuality, behaviour and rights.
Another leader, Kgosi Elizabeth Sekeseke of Wenela ward noted that the issue of teenage pregnancy goes beyond poverty.
She cited a recent example involving a teenager who had done well in her Junior Secondary School examinations and was set to proceed to Gantsi Senior Secondary School.
“The girl fell pregnant and said a local nurse was responsible for the pregnancy. When the nurse was called, he did not deny having unprotected carnal knowledge of the girl but demanded DNA tests as he accused her of having slept with many other men. ‘We took turns with her,’ that is what he said!” seethed Sekeseke.
“These issues are more complicated than we may think. That is why we need to go to schools and engage our children in these matters. Maybe then we may reduce the numbers of pregnancies and save the future of our girls. They are the mothers of the next generation therefore good morals have to be instilled now if we are to bring about change and a better tomorrow,” she stressed.
In the last quarter of 2019, Maun accounted for 74 of the 102 teenage pregnancies recorded in the district.
It is against this backdrop that dikgosi came together under one roof at The Village Church to map a way forward.
At the end of the workshop, organised by a local non-government organisation, Queen Esther, they formed a campaign team #Dikgosi di xadile to lead the initiative.
With the motto ‘Chencha M’nyana’ they will soon be visiting schools in and around Maun to start the talks.
“As you have heard from the previous report, most of the pregnancies occur during school holidays, so the gap is at home. That is why we are engaging the community and the leaders to step in and help our children,” stated Queen Esther’s director, Vehae Tjiriange, adding some children have stated they learn sexual activities from home.
“They have witnessed ‘live porn’ when parents are doing it at night when they think the children are sleeping. Sharing a room with children in our area is very common. Additionally, some have stated that they have seen the sex moves from parents’ mobile phones and television hence it is important to guide our children especially the girl child to be more responsible about their bodies. They should know that poverty is a passing phase and that education is what will liberate them hence the need to invest their time in getting the best education!”
Politicians clash over Covid-19 meeting
The fight against Covid-19 stepped into the periphery of partisan politics this week as the absence of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leaders sparked accusations and counter-accusations over their invitation to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s closed meeting.
UDC President, Duma Boko and party vice president, Dumelang Saleshando, were not part of the delegation that attended the three-hour long meeting.
Although Masisi stated that Boko, like other party leaders was invited, the UDC has vehemently denied the claim.
In a press release that was issued last night the UDC said. “We have noted the events that have been evolving around the Covid-19 pandemic, its a serious matter that requires all of us to work genuinely. We value and encourage national dialogue on important matters such as the fight against Covid 19. The truth is that the UDC president has not received any invitation from Office of the President and we call OP to provide proof.”
However, when the UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa was asked about calls made to him by OP, he said, ” I was asked about Boko’s whereabouts by Kaelo Molefe and I told him I was in Phikwe. I asked him to check him at his house. This morning I got another call from Professor Mpho Molomo who said he had Boko’s invitation to a meeting with President Masisi and I suggested that they go to his house, an address which is popular within the government enclave. I indicated to him that I had received a similar call from Kaelo Molefhe and he said he was with him. Kaelo knows where Boko stays having been his associate in the build-up to the 2014 General Elections. So quite frankly I doubt he would say he does not know Boko’s house. As regards Nick and Keorapetse I cannot comment on their behalf, ” explained Mohwasa last night.
Dithapelo Keorapetse too said that the OP was being playful. “Why would they contact me for DGB? They are aware of his PA, VP, Secretary General, Spokesperson and UDC NEC. These are the people from who to check him. Whoever wants the UDC President from me for official things is playing. The state has been to his house several times. How did they suddenly forget his place of abode? Even Kaelo knows Boko’s House from his UDC days, ” said Keorapetse.
The accusations did not go well with the BDP Chairman of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, who expressed concern that the UDC was turning a pandemic into a political mudsling.
He said that all efforts including calls, text, WhatsApp messages to Boko, Moeti, Keorapetse and Boko’s bodyguard were made without any success. “There is a communication trail to prove this. UDC must know when to come to the table and be patriotic on issues on national interest such as COVID-19, its very disappointing for a party calling themselves an alternative government to behave in this manner but Batswana are watching and we know they will punish them for this.”
BPF opposes 6 months State of Emergency
Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) president, Biggie Butale, yesterday broke ranks with other opposition leaders parties as a opposed a six-months long State of Emergency proposed by President Mokgweetsi Masisi, at a closed meeting.
Although other party leaders such as the president of Botswana Movement for Democracy, Sidney Pilane, Vice president of Alliance for Progressives, Wynter Mmoltsi and Gaontebale Mokgosi of Real Alternative Party, supported Masisi’s move, BPF took a different stand. “State of Emergency must be used only in extreme circumstances and now we at BPF are not comfortable with it because once it becomes a habit, maybe in the future government may not be as kind as the current government and find an opportunity to abuse it.”
Butale however said that the meeting for all party leaders was useful and that it would go a long way in enhancing Botswana’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Masisi’s call for six months of State of Emergency follows the unrelenting global rise in coronavirus cases of which Botswana has since recorded.
Today Masisi was scheduled to meet cabinet and all members of Parliament as he continies to lobby for a six-months long State of Emergency.
The president has since explained that should the situation improves then they will stick to the initial 28-day lockdown plan which started on the 2nd and ends on April 30th.