President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has conducted several surreptitious meetings with the late former President Sir Ketumile Masire and former President Festus Mogae to take advise in outsmarting the powerful Khama family from the reins of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the country.
This was revealed by a research paper seen by Weekend Post this week titled “How Masisi outsmarted Khama to take the reins in Botswana”. The paper was released on November 6, 2019 by a Research Fellow in African Studies at Indiana University in the United States, Dr. Barry Morton. Dr. Morton has published numerous books and articles on that topic. In 2017 he was hired by Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation to work with the now-late former President Masire on a new book, “The Minds of Masire and the Making of the Botswana Democratic Tradition” which is forthcoming later this year, 2019.
Dr. Morton stated in the article on how Masisi outmaneuvered the former President Ian Khama who appointed him as his Vice President and later succeeding him by taking the Counsel of the two former presidents in clandestine meetings. “It is clear that former President Khama (66), like many others, underestimated his young vice-president (Masisi). Masisi took advice in secret late-night sessions with former presidents Masire and Mogae as well as other veterans who despised “the New BDP” that Khama led,” Morton wrote in the paper.
Using their counsel, the author observed that he attended party meetings across the entire country to build up his own constituency. Masisi described his years as vice-president as “brutal hell”, adding that “I was the most abused vice-president,” Morton narrated in the controversial research paper. He added by predicting that: “the full story of how the underling Masisi prosecuted his silent war with Khama is one we must wait for. Ultimately, it is his energetic campaigning and his desire to bring back the forgotten ethos and policies of the early BDP – of Seretse Khama and Masire – that won over the voters (in 2019 elections) despite the defection of the Khamas.”
According to the academic, Masisi now vows to reinvigorate Botswana’s stalled economy, and in this regard his supporters expect him to show no less stamina than he did in the election. Like the priest in Paton’s story who went to Johannesburg seeking his sister and son only to find a degraded and desperate situation, so Masisi is understood to have found the central government and cabinet unrecognisable from the institutions that his late father had served so well in the past, he said.
“With the BDP having been taken over by a coalition of Khama lackeys and “tenderpreneurs” – business people who enrich themselves, often dubiously, through government tenders – even the party’s founder, former President Masire, disowned it for lacking the values and discipline of the original,” he observed. Dr. Morton highlighted that Masisi’s role as vice-president was to serve as a short-term stopgap for Ian Khama’s “Fredo-like” brother, Tshekedi and his looming appointment as Khama’s successor was highly unpopular inside and outside the party.
Once Khama handed power to Masisi in April 2018, he pointed out that “Sisiboy” moved quickly onto the attack, arresting the despised Isaac Kgosi and installing his own supporters in key positions. “Once the Khama brothers defected to the opposition ahead of the 2019 election, they and their supporters were thoroughly outworked by Masisi’s relentless campaign organisation.”
Masisi managed to win the governing BDP’s primary and general election, landing in parliament in 2009 and within two years he was in the cabinet. In 2014, President Ian Khama, looking for an inexperienced and pliable deputy, appointed him vice-president. Ever since 1998, the BDP has transferred power from the president to the vice-president a year before the next general election. Masire did this for Mogae in 1998, who then did the same thing for Ian Khama in 2008.
Masisi has always been easy to underestimate
Dr. Morton states in the paper that although his father, Edison, was a senior cabinet member, Masisi did not display the charisma of a Sir Seretse Khama, the first president of independent Botswana. “Neither did he show the technocratic brilliance of a Quett Masire, who succeeded Seretse Khama as president in 1980; nor the emotional oratory of a Daniel Kwelagobe, the BDP chairman,” he continued. He furthermore stated that although Masisi today compares favourably to any of these political legends, none of this seemed evident in his youth.“He has always been easy to underestimate. Although a prefect at Gaborone’s Thornhill and Maru A Pula private schools, he was not a standout personality,” the Research Fellow said.
How Masisi wrestled control of Botswana from Khama’s
Masisi’s decisive victory in the recent Botswana elections (2019) over a coalition backed by his former boss, Ian Khama, is the culmination of an astonishing 10 year political career, the US born academic pointed out. “Morphing from an obscure first-time MP in 2009 to a surprise vice presidential appointment in 2014, and then president in 2018, the man affectionately known as “Sisiboy” (a play on his surname) has wrested control of Botswana from the powerful Khama family. This he has achieved using tireless campaigning and “the rebirth of the Botswana Democratic Party” (BDP),” he stated out in the paper.
He highlighted that the Khama lineage has dominated Botswana’s politics since the 1870s, right through the modern presidencies of Sir Seretse Khama (1966-1980) and Ian Khama (2008-2018). “But they are now a discredited, spent force with Ian Khama’s new party (Botswana Patriotic Front) having won only 5% of the vote,” he asserted. He cited the prosecution of Khama’s security chief, Isaac Kgosi, and presidential secretary, Carter Morupisi, following his assumption of power in 2018, showed that Masisi was no longer willing to tolerate the widespread corruption that flourished under his predecessor. “Investigators continue to uncover allegations of shocking malfeasance.”
According to the author, Masisi, 58, is on a mission to restore Botswana’s reputation as a beacon of clean governance on the continent, and is pouring resources and energy into that effort. “His ascent and success have surprised everybody. Even Khama admitted: ‘I have come to realise that I have maybe misjudged him,’” Morton wrote.
The author, Dr. Barry Morton was raised and educated in Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe before returning to his native United States for university. In the course of obtaining a PhD in African History in 1996 he established his credentials as an authority on the history of Botswana.
The Conversation in which the paper is published is funded by the National Research Foundation, eight universities, including the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University and the Universities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Pretoria, and South Africa. It is hosted by the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Western Cape, the African Population and Health Research Centre and the Nigerian Academy of Science and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a Strategic Partner.
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.