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Botswana


  • Tshepiso Ndzinge-Makhamisa
  • LLB (University of Botswana), LLM (University of Cape Town) PhD Candidate (Public Law) (University of Cape Town)

1. Population indicators

1.1 What is the total population of Botswana?

According to the 2011 Population and Housing Census, the total population of Botswana is 2 024 904 people. [1]

1.2 Describe the methodology used to obtain the statistical data on the prevalence of disability in Botswana. What criteria are used to determine who falls within the class of persons with disabilities in Botswana?

Desktop research was used and reliance was placed on statistical data from 2001 and 2011 Population and Housing Census. [2]

Paragraphs 1.3-1.6

The status quo from the 2014 remains.

2. Botswana international obligations

2.1 What is the status of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Botswana? Did Botswana sign and ratify the CRPD? Provide the date(s).

Botswana has yet to ratify the CRPD, nor the African Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

2.2 If Botswana has signed and ratified the CRPD, when was its country report due? Which government department is responsible for submission of the report? Did Botswana submit its report? If so, and if the report has been considered, indicate if there was a domestic effect of this reporting process. If not, what reasons does the relevant government department give for the delay?

Botswana, as yet, has not ratified the CRPD.

2.3 While reporting under various other United Nation’s instruments, or under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, or the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, did Botswana also report specifically on the rights of persons with disabilities in its most recent reports? If so, were relevant ‘concluding observations’ adopted? If relevant, were these observations given effect to? Was mention made of disability rights in your state’s UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR)? If so, what was the effect of these observations/ recommendations?

African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

In its 2015 report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights submitted on the 13th of November 2018, Botswana mentioned that it has enacted the Botswana National Policy on Disability in 2015, however, as was highlighted in the 2018 National Disability Consultative Conference, the Policy is still before the Botswana Cabinet and has yet to be ratified.[3]

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

In its report to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee), Botswana substantively made mention of disability once. It stated that the economic empowerment programme specifically targets women and girls with disabilities. Furthermore, that caregivers of persons with severe disabilities are allowed to get economic empowerment support on behalf of those living with disability under their care, including their children.[4]

2.5 With reference to 2.4 above, has the United Nation’s CRPD or any other ratified international instrument been domesticated? Provide details.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been given domestic effect through the promulgation of the Children’s Act of 2009.[5]

3. Constitution

3.1 Does the Constitution of Botswana contain provisions that directly address disability? If so, list the provision, and explain how each provision addresses disability.

The Constitution of Botswana has no provision that directly addresses the rights of persons with disabilities.

3.2 Does the Constitution of Botswana contain provisions that indirectly address disability? If so, list the provisions and explain how each provision indirectly addresses disability.

The Constitution of Botswana has provisions relating to non-discrimination and the right to equality enshrined in section 15(2). This indirectly safeguards persons with disabilities from any form of discrimination.[6]

4. Legislation

4.1 Does Botswana have legislation that directly addresses issues relating to disability? If so, list the legislation and explain how the legislation addresses disability.

Mental Disorders Act of 1969

The Mental Disorders Act of 1969 is the primary legislation relating to mental health in Botswana. However, it can be argued that the Act does not adequately espouse a human rights- and patient-centred approach to legislation.[7]

4.2 Does Botswana have legislation that indirectly addresses issues relating to disability? If so, list the main legislation and explain how the legislation relates to disability.

Section 52 of the Children’s Act specifically provides for:

  1. The parent, other relative or guardian and such other persons as the situation demands shall give, to the child with disabilities, such parental care, special assistance or care as will —

(a) ensure the dignity of the child;

(b) promote the child’s self-esteem and self-reliance; and

(c) enable the child to actively participate in social, cultural, religious and educational activities subject to the child’s mental and physical capabilities.[8]

Employment Act

The Employment Act, S.I of 2007, provides for the rights and obligations of employers and employees. Though it is silent on the rights of PWDs, section 120 of the Convention empowers the Minister ‘to make regulations in relation to employment of infirm or handicapped persons.’[9]

Workers Compensation Act

The Workers Compensation Act 23 of 1998 provides that where a worker becomes permanently disabled, no deduction shall be made to compensation given to such person in certain circumstances arising from occupational injuries and diseases.[10]

5. Decisions of courts and tribunals

5.1 Have the courts (or tribunals) in Botswana ever decided on an issue(s) relating to disability? If so, list the cases and provide a summary for each of the cases with the facts, the decision(s) and the reasoning.

Status quo as with 2014 report.

Policies and programmes

6.1 Does Botswana have policies or programmes that directly address disability? If so, list each policy and explain how the policy addresses disability.

1996 National Policy on Care for People with Disabilities

The objectives of the policy are to achieve social integrity and stability, national fortitude and well-being for a progressive and established Botswana society. The grounding guideline of this policy has taken the route to: enhance awareness and create a positive attitude; and to mobilize for a barrier-free environment, user-friendly transportation, access to information, responsive health services, rehabilitation, education, and employment. In addition, it focuses on: the protection of persons with disability from all forms of exploitation; capacity development and training; and enhancing the capability of NGOs and persons with disability to participate in planning and decision making processes.[11]

Inclusive Education Policy(IEP)

In addition, the Government of Botswana developed an Inclusive Education policy to promote access and participation of students with disabilities. The policy consists of 5 goals and 10 policy statements. The Goals of the policy are:

  1. All learners will complete their basic education and progress where possible to senior secondary or tertiary education or to vocational training;
  2. Teachers will have the skills and resources to enable children of different abilities to learn effectively;

iii.            Out of school education programmes will be further developed and strengthened to ensure the inclusion in education and skills development of those children, young people and adults whose needs cannot be met in the formal system;

  1. Schools will be supportive and humane establishments which embrace and support all their learners and value their achievements will be in place so that children will attend school regularly and work hard at their studies; and
  2. All relevant Governmental, Non-governmental and private organisations will work in harmony to develop and maintain an inclusive education system in Botswana. [12]

6.2 Does Botswana have policies and programmes that indirectly address disability? If so, list each policy and describe how the policy indirectly addresses disability?

Status quo as with 2014 report.

7. Disability bodies

7.1 Other than the ordinary courts and tribunals, does Botswana have any official body that specifically addresses violations of the rights of people with disabilities? If so, describe the body, its functions and its powers.

Status quo as with 2014.

7.2 Other than the ordinary courts or tribunals, does Botswana have any official body that though not established to specifically address violations of the rights of persons with disabilities, can nonetheless do so? If so, describe the body, its functions and its powers.

Status quo as with 2014.

8. National human rights institutions, Human Rights Commission, Ombudsman or Public Protector

8.1 Does Botswana have a Human Rights Commission or an Ombudsman or Public Protector? If so, does its remit include the promotion and protection of the rights of people with disabilities? If your answer is yes, also indicate whether the Human Rights Commission or the Ombudsman or Public Protector of Botswana has ever addressed issues relating to the rights of persons with disabilities.

Botswana does not have a Human Rights Commission. However, Botswana mentioned in its second and third Period Report to the African Commission that steps are being taken to confer the human rights mandate to the Office of the Ombudsman. To this end, the government of Botswana has embarked on benchmarking missions to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) of Ghana from 24 September to 2 October 2015 and to the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) of Tanzania from 7 to 11 March 2016. [13]

9. Disabled peoples organisations (DPOs) and other civil society organisations:

9.1 Does Botswana have organisations that represent and advocate for the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities? If so, list each organisation and describe its activities.

The Botswana Federation of the Disabled (BOFOD)

The Botswana Federation of the Disabled (BOFOD) is a national disability umbrella body of various Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) countrywide.

BOFOD is a non-profit organisation that strives to lobby and advocate for a barrier free society in partnership with government, NGOs and private sector with the ultimate goal of ensuring that persons with disability fully enjoy their human rights.

To maximize impact of its work, the organisation is focusing on delivering on five organisational priorities namely:

  1. Organisational development,
  2. Partnership building and networking
  3. Policy engagement and advocacy
  4. Good governance, and
  5. Institutional capacity building and sustainability.[14]

Southern African Federation of the Disabled(SAFOD)

A leading Southern African disability-focused network engaged in coordination of activities of organisations of Persons with Disabilities in the Southern Africa region. The organisation was formed in 1986 by persons with disabilities as a federation of Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) with a strong presence in 10 countries. In each of these countries, we coordinate our programs and activities through National Federations of Disabled Peoples Organisations (NFDPOs)", as follows:

Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Angola (FAPED);

Botswana Federation of Disabled People (BOFOD);

Lesotho National Federation of the Disabled (LNFOD);

Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (FEDOMA);

Forum of Associations of Disabled People in Mozambique (FAMOD);

National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN);

Disabled People South Africa (DPSA);

Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Swaziland (FODSWA);

Zambia Federation of Disabled (ZAFOD); and

Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe (FODPZ).[15]

Mission

The Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled is an organisation that advocates for the rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as nurturing and strengthening its affiliates and other stakeholders in Southern Africa to ensure promotion of inclusive development and human rights for persons with disabilities.[16]

Botswana Council for the Disabled

The Botswana Council for the Disabled, which is an umbrella body which coordinates and manages all other nongovernmental organisations in Botswana, it also lobbies government on issues relating disability.

Ditshwanelo Centre for Human Rights

Ditshwanelo Centre for Human Rights advocates for the rights of all marginalized people within Botswana[17]

Botswana Society of People with Disabilities and Leonard Cheshire Disability

Leonard Cheshire Disability has a Young Voices project which brings together young disabled persons from 21 countries around the world. The Young Voices has done commendable work in highlighting some of the challenges faced by PWDs in various countries across Africa including Uganda, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Botswana.[18]

9.2 In the countries in Botswana’s region (Southern Africa) are DPOs organised/coordinated at national and/or regional level?

As noted in paragraph 9.1, BOFOD and BCD are umbrella organisations that seek to ensure a coordinated national approach to disability issues. BOFOD is primarily concerned with policy and advocacy whilst BCD is focused on access to services and disbursement of government funding.

SAFOD is a regional body, of which BOFOD, is a member.

9.3 If Botswana has ratified the CRPD, how has it ensured the involvement of DPOs in the implementation process?

9.3-9.8 Botswana has not yet ratified the CRPD. Therefore 9.3-9.8 is not applicable.

9.4 What types of actions have DPOs themselves taken to ensure that they are fully embedded in the process of implementation?

9.3-9.8 Botswana has not yet ratified the CRPD. Therefore 9.3-9.8 is not applicable.

9.5 What, if any, are the barriers DPOs have faced in engaging with implementation?

9.3-9.8 Botswana has not yet ratified the CRPD. Therefore 9.3-9.8 is not applicable.

9.6 Are there specific instances that provide ‘best-practice models’ for ensuring proper involvement of DPOs?

9.3-9.8 Botswana has not yet ratified the CRPD. Therefore 9.3-9.8 is not applicable.

9.7 Are there any specific outcomes regarding successful implementation and/or improved recognition of the rights of persons with disabilities that resulted from the engagement of DPOs in the implementation process?

9.3-9.8 Botswana has not yet ratified the CRPD. Therefore 9.3-9.8 is not applicable.

9.8 Has your research shown areas for capacity building and support (particularly in relation to research) for DPOs with respect to their engagement with the implementation process?

Paragraphs 9.3-9.8 Botswana has not yet ratified the CRPD. Therefore paragraphs 9.3-9.8 are not applicable.

9.9 Are there recommendations that come out of your research as to how DPOs might be more comprehensively empowered to take a leading role in the implementation processes of international or regional instruments?

9.10 Are there specific research institutes in the region where Botswana is situated (Southern Africa) that work on the rights of persons with disabilities and that have facilitated the involvement of DPOs in the process, including in research?

The University of Botswana (Disability Rights Teaching and Research Project) and SAFOD.

10. Government departments

10.1 Does Botswana have a government department or departments that is/ are specifically responsible for promoting and protecting the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities? If so, describe the activities of the department(s).

The Coordinating Office for Persons with Disabilities

Mission

The Coordinating Office for People with Disabilities (CPWD) exists to develop and coordinate the implementation of policies, strategies and programs through mainstreaming them into development agenda to empower people with disabilities.

Duties

    To coordinate the development of national policies, strategies and programmes aimed at the empowerment and wellbeing of people with disabilities;

  • To coordinate the implementation of national policies, strategies and programmes aimed at the empowerment and wellbeing people with disabilities;
  • To monitor and evaluate national policies, strategies and programmes aimed at the empowerment and wellbeing people with disabilities;
  • To ensure that disability issues are mainstreamed into all sector policies and programmes;
  • To ensure active involvement and participation of people with disabilities in policy processes, i.e. Formulation, implementation, review, monitoring and evaluation;
  • To ensure effectiveness of national structures dealing with disability issues; and
  • To mobilise resources for the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at addressing disability issues.[19]

11. Main human rights concerns of people with disabilities in Botswana

11.1 Contemporary challenges of persons with disabilities in Botswana (for example, in some parts of Africa ritual killing of certain classes of persons with disability, such as people with albinism, occurs).

11.2 Describe the contemporary challenges of persons with disabilities, and the legal responses thereto, and assess the adequacy of these responses to:

The situational analysis report in 2016 on persons with disability highlighted several contemporary challenges faced by persons with disability.[20]

A systematic review of literature and the findings of the study revealed that a large number of participants did not know their rights; they are neglected and marginalized.

Understanding disability in Botswana, until recently, has been informed by the medical/charity model agenda.

Failure to ratify the UN-CRPD by the Government of Botswana has led to inadequate conceptualisation and mainstreaming of disability rights.

The people with disabilities in this study demonstrated that multiple and complex layers of social and administrative structures disadvantage persons with disability from enjoying basic human rights.

The findings of this study indicated a lack in information service provision that left many participants unclear and unaware of their rights. Information on the rights of people with disability is embedded in policy documents and it may be that this information itself is inaccessible to people with disability.

Also emerging from this study are findings indicating that persons with disability were under-represented in the political arena and face barriers in exercising their democratic rights.

The key issues highlighted in this study include the need for synchronized, person-centered services that incorporate and see disability not through the deficit lens. The exclusion of people with disabilities from the social and economic services such as education, employment, health, and transport continues to exist.[21]

11.3 Do people with disabilities have a right to participation in political life (political representation and leadership) in Botswana?

Generally, persons with diabilities are perceived to have political participation. However section 6 (1)(c) of the Electoral Act provides that [n]o person shall be qualified to be registered a voter who ... is a person certified to be [insane] or otherwise adjudged or declared to be of unsound mind under any law for the time being in force in Botswana’ is disqualified from registering as a voter.[22]

The problem with this provision is that neither the Electoral Act nor the Mental Disorders Act defines who an insane person or someone of ‘unsound mind’ is. It is problematic because exclusion on the grounds of disability – perceived or actual – denies persons with intellectual disabilities the right to participate in political life on an equal basis with others, without any exception regarding their alleged capacity.[23]

The University of Botswana and OSISA commissioned a report in 2017 on the political participation of persons with disabilities in Botswana. One of the key findings was that the right to political participation of persons with disabilities was severely hampered, with many legislative and structural barriers, especially for persons with intellectual, psychosocial and mental disabilities.[24]

11.4 Are people with disabilities’ socio-economic rights, including the right to health, education and other social services protected and realised in Botswana?

Right to Health

Status quo as with 2014 report.

Social Services

Status quo as with 2014 report.

Right to Education

Section 18 of the Children’s Act provides for the right to education for every child in Botswana, read with Section 52(c) which provides that parents/custodians of children with disabilities, should amongst other things give that child special assistance or parental care regarding their educational activities, subject to their physical and mental capabilities.[25]

12. Future perspective

12.1 Are there any specific measures with regard to persons with disabilities being debated or considered in your country at the moment?

Currently, the debate has moved from the adoption and ratification of the CRPD towards the national disability framework, mainstreaming and the attendant legislation, policies and programmes. There have been a number of roundtable national disability discussions and seminars, as well as situational analysis reports that highlight the major recommendations such as:

Policy makers should:

  • Assess disability rights policy initiatives and persons with disabilities should be part of decision making processes. Disability is highly heterogeneous therefore members from each disability group should be included.
  • Enact disability specific legislation to redress inequality of exercising rights.
  • With the government of Botswana providing leadership, review the existing disability policy and use it to re-evaluate its approach to tackling inequality.
  • Ratify and domesticate the UN-CRPD while taking into account the context specific issues regarding to disability issues in Botswana.
  1. Office of Persons with Disabilities should:
  • Employ the social justice framework to advance the disability rights agenda;
  • Develop clear public messages around disability rights and the benefits of a more equal society for everyone in Botswana;
  • Analyze the ways to tackle the violation of disability rights;
  • Work with established DPOs or research teams to look into the violation of disability rights and organize funding for research to evaluate the effectiveness of current policies to promote disability rights;
  • Create a database on disability information (exact number of IWDs, nature of disabilities, support needs); this will provide information for future research and for developing policies in the area of disability;
  • Create databases on published research in the area of disability in Botswana and provide them in accessible formats so that persons with disabilities, NGOs, researchers, and the general public can use them; and
  • Disseminate and circulate policies pertinent and relevant to IWDs for the consumption of persons with disabilities, parents and NGOs.

iii.            The government of Botswana should through its responsible ministries make sure that persons with disabilities are:

  • Able to access all public buildings and transport systems;
  • Able to access health facilities and health literacy materials, thus create provisions for sign language interpreters in hospitals.
  • Able to cast votes and participate in the electoral process, as well as access information on elections.
  • Able to access application forms in formats appropriate to the various disability needs.
  • Trained to gain meaningful employment and retain their employment status.
  • Able to access all the policy and legislative documents.
  • Provided on the job training to retain employment; incentives should be provide for companies to employ qualified people with disabilities.[26]

From the 14th – 18th October 2018 the government of Botswana, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as University of Botswana convened a three-day National Disability Framework Consultative Conference recently which brought together people with disabilities and disabled persons organisations from around Botswana.[27]

Within the three days private sectors, civil societies as well as other stakeholders had an interactive discussions and recommendations on how the UNCRPD can recognize the rights of people with disabilities. The key issues were also considered during the development of the National Disability Framework including the process for future consultations.[28]

12.2 What legal reforms are being raised? Which legal reforms would you like to see in your country? Why?

  1. Adoption and Ratification of the CRPD;
  2. Enactment of disability specific legislation conforming to the principles of the CRPD; and

iii. Development of a clear and concise national disability framework, with a detailed policy that seeks to ensure the implementation of the CRPD and the disability specific legislation.

[1] M Mmatli et al ‘Analysis of disability population and housing census 2011’  See ‘Decent work country programme for Botswana 2011-2015’ Report of the Republic of Botswana

[2] See ‘Decent work country programme for Botswana 2011-2015’ Report of the Republic of Botswana

(2011) 12 (Decent work country programme for Botswana 2011-2015) http://www.ilo.org/public/

english/bureau/program/dwcp/download/botswana.pdf (accessed 16 April 2014); ‘Revised

national population policy: Improving the quality of life’ Report of the National Council on

Population Development, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Botswana (2010) 21

(National Council on Population Development Report) http://botswana.unfpa.org/drive/Revised

NationalPopulationPolicyBotswana(FINAL).pdf (accessed 2 March 2019).

[3] Republic of Botswana ‘Second and third reports to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’

Rights: Implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ (2018) http://www.achpr.org/files/sessions/63rd_os/state-reports/2nd-3rd-2011-2015/botswana_state_report_2nd_3rd_eng.pdf (accessed 1 April 2019).

[4] Fourth periodic report submitted by Botswana under Article 18 of the Convention, due in 2014 (2017)

CEDAW/C/BWA/4.

[5] Children’s Act, 2009 (No. 8 of 2009) http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex4.detail?p_lang=en&p_isn=97343 (Accessed 1 April 2019)

[6] The 1966 Constitution of Botswana contains a Bill of Rights which covers civil and political rights.

[7] Mental Disorders Act, 1969 http://www.elaws.gov.bw/docs/statutes/Botswana%20Statute%20Law%201969.pdf (Accessed 1 April 2019)

[8] Children’s Act op cit note 5 at Section 52

[9] Employment Act (CHAP 47:01) http://www.elaws.gov.bw/law.php?id=1673 (Accessed 1 April 2019)

[10] Workers Compensation Act 23 of 1998

[11] http://www.ncongo.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/National-Policy-on-Care-for-People-with-Disabilty.pdf (accessed 22 March 2019)

[12] MOE launches inclusive education policy’ The Voice 1 March 2013 http://www.thevoicebw.com/

2013/03/01/moe-launches-inclusive-education-policy/ (accessed 22 March 2019).

[13] Republic of Botswana ‘First periodic report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’

Rights: Implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ (2008) 93 http://

www.achpr.org/files/sessions/46th/state-reports/1st-1966-2007/staterep1_botswana_2008_

eng.pdf (accessed 24 March 2019).

[14] http://www.bofod.org/ ( Accessed 23 March 2019)

 

[15] http://www.safod.net/safod-content/cid/37/about-us/ ( Accessed 23 March 2019)

[16] http://www.safod.net/safod-content/cid/37/about-us/  ( Accessed 23 March 2019)

[17] https://www.facebook.com/ditshwanelobotswana/ (Accessed 3 April 2019)

[18] ‘Reality (Botswana) - Leonard Cheshire Disability Young Voices’ LCD Young Voices 27 July 2009

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4pz53-3qdo (accessed 25 February 2019); Young Voices,

Leonard Cheshire ‘Where’: http://youngvoices.leonardcheshire.org/about/about-young-voices/

(accessed 17 June 2014).

[19] http://www.gov.bw/Ministries--Authorities/Ministries/State-President/Office-of-the-President/Divisions/Office-of-People-with-Disabilities/ (Accessed 12 February 2019)

[20] Mukhophaday S., Moswela E, ‘Situational Analysis of Disability Rights in the Context of Botswana’ (2016) (with author)

[21] ibid

[22] ‘March 2014 Judicial Colloquium Gaborone, Botswana’ http://pinkanatomybw.com/2014/04/01/

march-2014-judicial-colloquium-gaborone-botswana/ (accessed 12 March 2019).

[23] Children’ Act op cit note 5

[24] K Suping., Moswela E, ‘Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Botswana’ (2016) (with author)

[25] Children’s Act op cit note 5

[26] Op cit note 20

[27] http://www.bw.undp.org/content/botswana/en/home/presscenter/articles/2018/10/18/national-disability-framework-consultative-conference.html (Accessed 03 March 2019)

[28] http://www.bw.undp.org/content/botswana/en/home/presscenter/articles/2018/10/18/national-disability-framework-consultative-conference.html (Accessed 28 March 2019)