Members of the public totally against revisiting of the bill in 2013
Even though Parliament last week deferred debate of the controversial public health bill to next year following pressure from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, some members of society feel the bill should just be thrown in the dustbin.
When passed into law the bill will among other things give medical practitioners powers to test patients for HIV without their consent while corpses of those who would have died of AIDS will be barred from mortuaries.
Below is what some members of the public said of the bill which the Speaker of the National Assembly, Margaret Nasha indicated would be re-visited in the coming year.
Stanley Monageng, an AIDS activist based in Mahalapye
Lambasted the public health bill as a piece of legislation which leaves much to be desired. “We are going back to where we started because the bill and our legislators are actually promoting stigmatization.
The bill will scare people from testing and going to the health facilities and this will further spread the virus as most people will go on with their lives without knowing whether they are living with the virus.
It’s quite a shame that such a bill is actually being debated in a country which has done so much in the fight against HIV.”
Ludzi Nfila (27) from Nlaphkwane village
“I wonder what motivated the minister of health to table such a bill in parliament. We have HIV/AIDS as a disease that is not a notifiable type of ailment. What has changed that?
The minister must come clean and reveal all the information pertaining this bill and tell us the major reasons why it should be supported.
He must also tell us what they have done to the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) drugs given to people living with the pandemic. I think they have done something to the drugs that now causes HIV to be an airborne disease like they say. We have been living and sharing everything with HIV/AIDS patients why should we stop now?
That bill should just be a thing of the past, we never want to hear about it again.”
Neonyana Madeswi (22) of Francistown
“This is a typical one step forward two steps back in the fight against HIV.
The government has worked tremendously for the past two decades trying to mitigate escalating levels of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country.
Gains were being noticed and people were beginning to appreciate that HIV/AIDS is a disease just like any other. But gains made before will be definitely reversed because of the bill.
Efforts made in dealing with discrimination and stigma will be reversed.
“There must be something wrong with these religious legislators because recently it was Timothy Myeni arguing that people living with HIV should be branded as if they are livestock in his kraal.
Now it is Reverend Seyakgosing our health minister proposing a bill of stigmatization and discrimination.
That bill is inhumane and it does not consider human rights. The dead should be given descent burial irrespective of the cause of their death.
If those MPs go ahead and pass the bill in 2013 then they must know that we will have our day in 2014 when the country goes to the polls”
Chuke Nsoliwa (42) from Matshelagabedi
“I m totally against this bill and I am surprised that Mogae who is considered a champion in the fight against HIV actually supports it.
I think consultation of stakeholders was not enough to make this decision and the government should consult Batswana to hear their views.
But I am actually happy that they postponed the debate to next year because that should give them time to take re-think this bill.
The sad thing is that this bill totally goes against our culture as people will not have a chance to pay their last respects to the dead.
We also believe that if the person is not buried with respect then his/her soul will not rest in peace.”
Betty Moroka (42) from Moroka
“This bill will not do any good for Botswana but will instead promote stigma and discrimination which as a country had managed to deal with.
When this bill is passed into law and people buried according it the whole nation will know that the deceased was HIV positive and that does not show any respect to the dead.
For me it’s nothing but a big no, I don’t even want to hear about it in the coming year.”