Making her mark

Boitumelo Maswabi
YOUTH-CENTRIC: Seabo with participants

Sensational Seabo fighting for a better Botswana

Tumisang Seabo is a 27-year-old passionate about democratic governance, equality, and diversity.

The University of Botswana LLB graduate is the Project and Legal Manager at Botswana Centre for Public Integrity (BCPI), a non-profit organisation which strives to increase transparency, integrity and accountability in Botswana.

Voice Woman sat with Seabo to learn a little more about the impressive young woman and what makes her tick…

Thank you so much for being generous with your time. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am a dedicated and results-driven Project and Legal Manager for Botswana Centre for Public Integrity, with four years spent coordinating activities, project administration and logistics, contract negotiation, and facilitation and training Civil Society and youth.

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I am a coordinator of the Young Leaders Integrity School, which targets youth on leadership, governance principles and empowering them to take up leadership roles, reaching about 200 youth, including a Youth Summit in December 2022.

I am currently responsible for working on the UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security and UNSCR 1325 Women, Peace and Security to advocate for women and youth participation in decision-making, mediation, peace resolution roles, as a vulnerable groups in conflict situations, having received training from the SADC Mediation Group.

How did you get involved with BCPI?

Previously, I was a Legal Intern at Botswana Oil Limited under the Board Secretarial and Legal Department.

I later decided that I wanted to enter the Civil Society space to make a meaningful impact in the governance of the country and BCPI was the perfect fit for me as it is mandated to do advocacy work on good democratic governance and anti-corruption.

I came in as a volunteer and gradually ascended to my current position as the Legal and Project Manager, of which I wear two hats: legal aspects and Project management.

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Currently, my major project is to establish the Peace and Security thematic area under BCPI with my main focus being youth and women participation as per the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1325 & 2250, and the regional and local framework that exists.

Tell us more about that Young Leaders Integrity School (YLIS).

BCPI architected the Young Leaders Integrity School, which was curated after the Transparency School on Integrity by Transparency International.

It sought to create a peer-to-peer learning and integrity-building environment that linked theory with practice and helps young leaders to acquire skills to better convey the message of anti-corruption, and introspect to be better leaders of tomorrow.

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Since I joined BCPI in 2021, I have trained about 200 young leaders, dealing with various issues from rule of law, law-making process, leadership skills, and democracy and governance principles.

In December 2022, we went big with the programme and held an intensive, three-day Young Leaders Integrity Summit where 50 student leaders from nine schools, countrywide, participated.

What are some of the highlights of working with youths?

I must say working with youth is in itself the highlight of my work and is my favourite aspect of the job.

The youth show a keen interest in bringing positive change to the governance of the country and improving their leadership skills to become better leaders.

What other activities are you currently carrying out?

I am currently working on launching the BCPI Peace and Security thematic area, focusing on youth and women participation in the peace and security sector, this includes mediation and peace resolution processes.

One would wonder why this should be an issue of concern for a country like Botswana where it experiences relative peace.

Studies have shown that women and youth are disproportionately affected when there is conflict.

Furthermore, the treatment of these groups pre-conflict is amplified during conflict, e.g., Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

It is also evident that, in conflicts, youth and women tend to be weaponized.

It is for this reason that the UNSCR 2250 & 1325 were established to ensure participation of youth and women in decision-making roles under the Peace and Security sector, to ensure the protection of these groups.

My current work is to do situational analysis to examine the current status and potential for promoting women and youth participation in mediation, peace building, and addressing GBV in Botswana.

The research aims to assess existing policies, legislation, and frameworks at the local, regional (SADC), and international levels, and identify gaps and opportunities for enhancing gender equality and sustainable peace in the country.

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It is through this research that an informed policy and legal framework recommendation shall be done, and advocacy work to ensure implementation.

Tell us about the activation you had at the Diamond Square recently – what was the main objective and how did the public react?

BCPI hosted an activity from the 24th to 28th July at the Diamond Square at Main Mall called ‘World Café- Anti-Corruption Activation’.

The objective was to collect the perspective of different Batswana on the issue of corruption; to appreciate the level of knowledge Batswana have regarding corruption, have Batswana see what fellow Batswana have to say and for them to engage with each other on the issue of corruption.

Four stations were created with the following questions for each:

1. Is Corruption in Botswana increasing, if so Why?
2. What can be done to fight Corruption?
3. How have you participated in Corruption?
4. How are you fighting Corruption?

Passersby at Main Mall would then pin their views on the board.

Did you anticipate some of the responses or views?

We did anticipate some of the responses, such as answers on the need for policy and legislative reforms, and other responses speaking to the dissatisfaction of anti-corruption agencies.

What surprised us is the extent of the dissolution that the public has with regards to corruption, with some saying that corruption is a viable tool to get what they need because they don’t feel that the systems in place cater to their needs.

Also interesting was how some people introspected and came to realise their participation in corruption.

What are your thoughts on the Presidential Commission of Inquiry’s Report on the Review of the Constitution?

For many years, scholars, politicians and the general public have called for a Constitution review.

What was evidently faulty about the inquiry process was that the public was not educated on the Constitution prior to the inquiry.

As a legal person, I recognize that the Constitution is a very complex document, which should have been broken down for a layman to be able to process and make a more impactful contribution towards the process.

Some of the contributions had no relation to the Constitution and that was due to lack of knowledge.

Around the Constitution inquiry under BCPI, we conducted the ‘Know your Constitution Youth Project (2021)’, which I led – an initiative of engaging youth in the Constitution review.

30 youths participated, the majority being university students, indicated that they certainly were unaware of the contents of the Constitution.

For instance, they believed that socio-economic rights such as the Right to Health were guaranteed under the Constitution, only to come to the realization that they were not.

We need more women in political leadership, any aspirations to become a lawmaker?

Indeed we need more women in political leadership, it is for this reason this issue is one of my main interests in creating impactful change.

As a policy and legislative analyst, I am adamant in making my contribution towards this goal, through advocacy on the need to change the existing frameworks that create the glass ceiling for women in leadership in Botswana.

Studies have shown that there is a need for electoral reform; these include a change of the prevailing First-Past-the-Post election system to Proportional Representation System, alternatively the mixed system both at national and local level; a Constitutional provision to require political parties to field 50 percent women candidates.

Political Parties should take deliberate steps to adopt affirmative action measures aimed at increasing participation of women and youth in decision-making structures.

I aspire to be a leading advocate on these recommendations, and also calling for women leadership, the peace and security sector as a forgotten area when we speak about women in leadership.

Lastly, what does Tumi’s future look like?

The future for Tumi is to see the fruition of the work she is doing presently and expand on it; as a leading advocate and change agent in the field of women, youth empowerment, equality, and governance issues both regionally and internationally.

Fun fact: I love travelling, which is why I go by ‘Travelhead_Tumie’ on TikTok creating travel content and showing that it is affordable to partake in and it is not a rich people activity.

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