No budget for op human rights office

  • International observers watching developments
  • Matambo’s budget silent on body
  • Molale Budget request makes no provision of body

International Human Rights observers and bodies are closely watching the implementation of the Office of the President’s Human Rights body.
Speaking at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on January 12, 2018, Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Edwin Batshu advised United Nations member states that Botswana under its National Development Plan 11 and Vision 2016 would focus on Human Rights and compliance to its international obligations.
Speaking to an international audience, the minister advised that Botswana was implementing two key undertakings to achieve its objectives. The undertakings, already approved by cabinet, entailed the expansion of the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman with a proposed Bill to be tabled before parliament in the July 2018 session and a second undertaking, already at advance stages of personnel recruitment, according to the minister, required funding which would be provided for in the national budget.
Presenting the budget to a national audience a month after Batshu’s report to the United Nations, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo highlighted key developments areas for the 2018/2019 budget, none of which included those announced by Batshu at the United Nations. Last week Matambo, addressing concerns raised by opposition members of parliament that the budget proposal did not cover all development issues, indicated that only crucial areas of the budget are covered in his presentation to parliament.
The establishment of an entire new body in government under the Office of the President to deal with Human Rights abuses and Botswana’s compliance to its international human rights obligations did not receive mention in the budget nor did the minister indicate that a budget had been set aside for the establishment of the body.
The Botswana Gazette has confirmed through sources within the Attorney Generals Chambers that there is currently no draft legislation for the establishment of the new body. In addition, a motion has yet to be tabled in parliament for its creation.
Presenting the 2018/2019 Recurrent and Development Budget for departments under the Ministry for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration under Organisation 0200, Minister Molale made no mention of the Human Rights body that is said to fall under the Office of the President. The Minister requested an allocation of P1,402,872,560 for the Recurrent Budget and P676,014,000 for the Development Budget.
Molale’s request for allocation also provided a different nuance to that of Batshu before the United Nations. According to Molale, the focus of NDP11 and vision 2036 required a “budget proposals for the coming financial year [are] premised on the strategic intervention areas as outlined by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development namely: promoting growth and economic diversification; investing in human capital for building an inclusive society; and maintaining a sustainable fiscal policy. In each of these areas, the Presidency has the responsibility to provide the necessary coordination and oversight to ensure delivery of the Eleventh National Development Plan (NDP 11) whose overarching commitment is to attain “Inclusive Growth for the Realisation of Sustainable Employment Creation and Poverty Eradication.” No mention was made of Botswana’s adherence its international obligations and the establishment of a Human Rights Body under the Office of the President.
International bodies have indicated that they will investigate the apparent disparity between Government’s international and national stance and seek clarity of Batshu’s undertakings which were understood to be imminently implemented.