Friday 27 November 2009

The law is ours!

Too many things have happened in the last week. Too many to ignore so please forgive me for covering several of them.

Firstly some good news. Correction. Some excellent news. So good in fact that I’m going to break one of my personal rules and use one of the words that I forbid myself from using. This event is (take a deep breath)… empowering.

Our laws are online.

Yes we the people of Botswana now have entirely free, 24/7 online access to our laws. OUR laws. Go to and you can browse every law enacted up until 2008, download them onto your PC and read them at your leisure. If you have a fancy smartphone or a laptop that travels around with you the laws can go with you.

We’ve been campaigning for the laws to be online for a few years and it’s truly wonderful that this has now happened.

This is truly important. Normally there is a huge gap between people and the laws that govern them. There’s a perception that laws are for lawyers, judges and politicians. In fact at the launch of the new web site last week I suspect I was one of the few people who wasn’t a lawyer. I was surrounded by members of the legal profession, as well as judges, MPs and Ministers, even the Vice President was there to mark the occasion.

But this misses the point. While these people were important, some very important, they aren’t actually the people that matter the most. I firmly believe that the laws of Botswana belong to you and me, not the bigwigs. Yes, politicians make the laws, judges enforce them and lawyers make a fortune from understanding them but it’s you and I that actually have the greatest interest in them. It is, after all, you or I that will end up in court if we break one of them. It’s also you and I that benefit from the protections these laws offer.

That’s why I think it’s so important that we can see these laws, read them, understand them and know what they offer. That’s why we’ve been campaigning for them to be online for so long.

So go to their web site, have a look and let the AG’s Chambers know what you think. At the moment it’s fairly simple and there are a few technical issues but the basic service is there.

Take a look also at the Consumer Watchdog blog and I’ll post links to the laws I think are the first you should read.

That’s the good news. Now for an update.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the ridiculous “Bizz Awards”, a scam award scheme that gives your business a prize, so long as you pay them P25,000 first. Then you can go to their awards ceremony in Texas, once you’ve paid your air fares and hotel bills as well of course. You may remember that they didn’t like our comments but instead of threatening us they very generously tried to bribe me with a fully-paid trip to Texas and attendance at their awards ceremony. Sadly I decided that my principles were worth more than a free trip to cowboy country.

Anyway, I was at their web site looking at the various companies that the Bizz Awards people CLAIM are “members” of their scheme. Companies like Microsoft, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Toyota, British Airways, Coca-Cola, Fedex and DHL.

This seemed unbelievable. I couldn’t believe that respectable companies like these could have fallen for the Bizz Awards scam so I contacted them asking them to confirm it. So far I’ve heard back from Microsoft, Price Waterhouse Coopers and Coca-Cola. Each one said they have NOTHING to do with the Bizz Awards.

I think we all knew this was a scam to begin with but isn’t it nice to have more evidence?

Finally two celebrations of people from the same service provider.

We heard from a reader suffering from some noisy neighbours who partied every night, kept the neighbourhood awake and generally made his life miserable. He called the Police several times but as soon as they’d visited, warned the noisy neighbours and left the party would start again.

We alerted him to Section 176 of the Penal Code which outlaws being a “common nuisance”. He forwarded this advice to the Station Commander at the local Police Station and 3 hours later the cops were round at the noisy neighbour’s house, confiscated his sound system and now want a statement from our reader so they can press charges against the offender. There’s a lesson for you. Give the Police a hand doing their job and you’re more likely to get results.

Many people have commented on the “Fighting crime in Gaborone” Facebook site about a particular police officer who manages the Falcon Crest intersection in Gaborone. One said “This officer is excellent … he is really efficient and it makes it a pleasure to use that intersection!” Another said “what a shining example of an officer doing his job with passion, enthusiasm and PRIDE.”

Evidence, unnecessary evidence of course, that there are Police Officers who are examples of everything we would expect from the emergency services.

His name is Inspector Mojalemotho from Central Police Station in Gaborone. He is clearly a service star and tribute to the Police Service. We’ll be writing a letter of commendation to the Commissioner of Police commending him. If you know him, give him a pat on the back.

This week’s stars
  • Dr Atalliah Molokomme, the Attorney General and her team for publishing the laws online.
  • Inspector Boiki Mojalemotho from Central Police Station for being a star.
  • The team at Gaborone West Police Station for their action in silencing a noisy neighbour.

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