The newly appointed Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) Eric Molale is currently the most sought after Cabinet Minister. The reason is plain and simple; he is by law and purpose expected to announce the final list of nominated councilors, usually the last hope of redemption for election losers and political enthusiasts.
The Minister is expected to announce appointment of at least 133 specially nominated councillors. It is expected that an overwhelming majority of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members who lost in the recent General Elections will make the cut. This week, WeekendPost has established that the issue of the councillors’ nomination was discussed at length by the ruling party, in their weekly meeting. There were concerns from various members including Minister Molale. The Minister’s peers demanded to know why it has taken this long for the Minister to have released the final list for the nominations.
It is said Molale, who enjoys power, kept calm and even raised his own queries. According to informants the Minister decried the fact that the Permanent Secretary (PS) from the same Ministry invited the interested players to submit their names for special nomination consideration. It is said the Minister wanted this to have been done after he was appointed to head the Ministry and suspected it was done to undermine him.
“There was confusion as to who directed the PS to do that because it should have been a directive from the Minister. So he was just raising that concern. This was after fellow legislators asked him what could be delaying the list of nominations and the confusion caused thereof as some interested parties were told a new saving-gram will circulate replacing the initial one,” an informant told this publication.
Molale’s concerns converge with that of Leader of Opposition (LOO) Dumelang Saleshando, who has questioned the decision to have specially nominated councillors applying for the post before the relevant Minister was appointed. Subsequent to the confusion, Molale issued a directive suspending the orientation of all councillors across the country. The orientations of almost 500 councillors were scheduled for this past week and it was stopped mid-way on Monday.
“Molale feels undermined. All along elected councillors do their orientation first then the specially elected do theirs later. But after the directive, both elected and nominated councillors will do the orientation at the same time. He just wants to wield the power he has,” one Councillor shared with WeekendPost. Molale could not comment on the matter, saying: “Please talk to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry.” The enquiries directed to the acting PS Col Duke Masilo, were also not efficiently responded to.
“The deadline for submission to the Minister was on the 20th of this month. The Minister then has to submit to his Principal, whereupon a final decision will be taken on nominations.” On the directive which cancelled orientation, Col Masilo said: “I am not fully aware of the stopped orientations but I will enquire and revert.”
The councillors however are crying foul that the current development has stalled progress, as they prepare to take on their duties. The councils have the responsibility of electing Council chairpersons, Mayors as well as Constituting Committees, a task which councillors want to deal with without delay.
BDP to reward party loyalists and activists
Special nomination of councillors has been a debatable matter over the years, with opposition politicians questioning its purpose and fairness. In the General Elections of 2014, of the 133 councilors nominated by the then Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane, only seven belonged to the opposition while the rest were BDP members and predominately preceding election losers.
There are reports that the trio of President Mokgweetsi Masisi, his Vice-Slumber Tsogwane and Molale want to short circuit the process and mostly reward the party veterans who were assisting in the campaigns of the just ended elections. Secret meetings are said to be held even at the State House, to decide who will make the cut. This is another factor that has irked the MPs, who as per norm, are given the opportunity to pitch a name or two for nominations.
“But it seems like this time around the decision will be taken by these three, leaving key stakeholders [MPs] out,” highlighted a source on Thursday morning. As per the practice, each party represented in a council has the right to suggest names for the positions of nominated councillors which are routed through the District Commissioners for consideration by the Minister. Each constituency is entitled to two nominations which the Minister could decline or accept.
WeekendPost has it on good authority who those party activists are; those who worked hard during the campaigns and those who lost in the past General Elections. BDP is also said to be working on a plan that will ensure that nomination of councillors will be used to neutralize opposition in councils were BDP numbers fell short. Nominated Councillors have in the past helped the ruling party to balance power in Local Authorities. There are areas where the BDP was out-numbered by a small fraction and it used the dispensation to manipulate the scales.
After the October 23rd election, the ruling party has control of, Francistown City Council, Sowa Town, North East District Council, Chobe District Council, Southern District Council, and Lobatse Town Council, Jwaneng Town Council, South East, Kweneng, Kgatleng and Kgalagadi it however shares Ghanzi with UDC. The UDC is expected to control North West, Central District Council, and Selibe Phikwe.
Among the nominated names which raised eyebrows, was Alec Seametso who lost in the previous General Elections of 2014. Also nominated in 2014, was Oliphant Mfa, Andy Boatile and Shabir Kablay. This time around the names of Lotty Manyapedza and Mpho Kooreme are already hinted for nominations. The system has always been condemned by opposition MPs as they see it as a way of bringing back individuals who were rejected by voters, therefore going against the wishes of the electorates.
Even in the past BDP heavy weights like former Vice President, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe have spoken against the practice. During the 9th Parliament, Kedikilwe tabled a motion in Parliament calling for the system to be scrapped, as it had diverted from its intended purpose and instead has been turned into a patronage exercise aimed at rewarding BDP activists.
The immediate past leader of opposition, Duma Boko has in the past revealed that his party planned to overhaul the legislation surrounding specially elected MPs and councilors. “I must record the indignant rage felt by us in the opposition and indeed the scornful resentment all reasonable citizens feel at this disgraceful conduct. There is nothing honorable about the conduct of the executive in this regard.”
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.