Botswana's former president and head of the National AID Council, Festus Mogae, has proposed legalising prostitution a part of the fight against HIV/AIDS. Legalising prostitution would help sex workers prevent HIV, he argues. Botswana has an extremely high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and sex work along the trucking routes from South Africa are well-known as corridors of HIV spread.
The ruling party in Botswana has yet to take a position on the issue but the opposition has expressed support for the idea, as well as the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS. Religious groups oppose the move.
If this were to happen, or even to be seriously considered by party leadership while in power, it would be a dramatic departure for any Southern African country government, who tend to avoid issues like this that might upset their rather conservative base. When the issue of decriminalising sex work came up as part of preparation for the Soccer World Cup in South Africa, there was an immediate outcry from many sectors of society. It would be very interesting to see how other Southern African governments would react to the debate.