Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has revealed in an exclusive interview with WeekendPost that he will soon launch a foundation which will promote democracy as well as critical importance of leadership and governance across Africa.
Khama made history in Botswana as the first former President of the country and President of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), to join opposition after his publicised ‘fallout’ with his successor President Mokgweetsi Masisi, upon handing over power on 1st April 2018. According to former President Khama, the foundation will look into issues of democracy and it will be a watchdog on good governance. “When I talk of good governance we will be looking at accountability, transparency, the rule of law and a watchdog of specifically three freedoms: speech, press and association”, Khama told WeekendPost last week.
The former President who is the Patron of the newly formed party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) — which contested the country’s General Elections in October, winning three seats — said, they will also be a watchdog on tolerance and touch on human rights and lastly on free and fair elections on the continent. “The foundation which will launch in Botswana beginning of the New Year, will also expand to the region as well as other parts of the continent. We will be issuing quarterly reports on the status of all the items mentioned and at the end of the year, release detailed reports with recommendations on where to improve,” Khama said.
The former President said currently as it stands, there is no tolerance of political opponents in Botswana as evidenced by the events leading to the October General Elections and some of the harassment on opponents still continues. In the months leading to October polls, tension was brewing threatening the BDP’s five decade grip on power, resulting in a tetchiness which has seen the country’s opposition leader harassed and several laws bulldozed through the legislature.
The President of the Umbrella for Democratic Party (UDC) Duma Boko, who lost his Gaborone Bonnington- South seat to BDP’s Anna Mokgethi, said the ruling party used state police to harass him several times and impounded on several occasions aircraft engaged by his party for campaigning. While addressing media in Sandton in the suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa, Boko said, he was concerned at the constant harassment by government and believes the reason for the spotlight on him is the current political dynamics which point to a change of guard for the first time since 1966 in Botswana.
With Botswana Congress Party (BCP) joining the umbrella opposition drive and the newly formed BPF, with the support of former President Ian Khama, Boko said the move highlighted threats to the ruling BDP than ever before and for the first time in 50 years, change of power was imminent. The African Report online writes: ‘Africa’s poster child for democracy, good governance, and transparency, for many years in the top five of the best- governed and least corrupt countries in Africa, Botswana was a good news story Africa had to hold on to. But, was it?
“On the face of it, Botswana is a thriving, open, competitive democracy. It has unfailingly held periodic transparent, credible, and peaceful elections – which the ruling party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has won since independence in 1965. It tolerates opposition and there is none of the systematic violence seen in countries like Zimbabwe and elsewhere. The country alternates its President after every two terms.
The Government appears to govern well, prudently, and accountably managing the revenues from the diamonds on which the economy depends on. However, underlying this is a carefully crafted system, aimed at subverting – not advancing – democratic practice, manipulating control of diamond revenue for political advantage, and entrenching and preserving BDP’s political hegemony”.
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.
About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.
For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.