We have noted with concern a continued tendency by politicians across the political divide to make derogatory statements intended to demean their opponents’ families, and in particular children. This completely negates our principles as a country and as a people, compromising national values. As far as we are concerned, all political parties have committed to respecting the rule of law. We expect politicians, as leaders, to have a deep commitment to ensuring that they DO NO HARM TO CHILDREN, in whatever actions they undertake.

Children face a wide array of challenges in the country which inhibit their ability to fully enjoy their rights. Our expectation is for political parties to advance intentions to improve the quality of life for all children instead of targeting children to score cheap political points.

We call on political activists from all political parties to immediately desist from this behavior as it has potential for far reaching consequences for children involved in the long term, especially in the era of free information flow with the advent of social media. We request the media to also exercise restraint when reporting on these utterances and statements, especially if they could be demeaning to families and children.

We further challenge leaders of all political parties to lead by example and desist from engaging in mudslinging politics involving opponents’ families. We call upon them to rein in and reprimand their activists at all levels for any statements that may be demeaning to opponents’ families, and especially children.

Lastly, we urge political leaders to not perpetuate abuse of children for political expediency. We urgently call on all leaders, who know about the abuse of children, whether by virtue of their office or by interaction with their constituents to without failure, report the same to the relevant authorities with immediate effect. We need not remind political leaders that this is not only the right thing to do, but they are criminally liable for concealing the actions if they are aware of such and fail to report. Botswana is a state that recognizes and upholds the principle of the best interests of the child in all matters pertaining to children. Targeting children in the manner that many politicians have been doing, as exemplified above, is in clear violation of various children’s rights.

We hope and believe that our political activists will demonstrate leadership going forward, where political discourse is about real issues that affect our people, and in particular our children on a day to day basis.
Olebile Machete
Childline Botswana