The soon to be dissolved 11th parliament has decided against implementing the agreed living allowance of former legislators until later date since they are not catered for by the public pay system, WeekendPost has been told.
Earlier this year the National Assembly debated with vigour and passion salaries and allowances amendment bill. This resulted in the August house approving a 4 percent salary hike and delinking members of the National Assembly from the public service structure by 11 percent. Furthermore, parliament also agreed in principle that former MPs will get 20 percent of the current legislators’ salaries as living allowance. This was subjected to be ratified in the just ended meeting, but to no avail.
“They will not get anything for now,” said Minister of Presidential Affairs Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi in a brief interview. “We are still in consultations as government and I would not know when we will be done, but it is a matter that as government we are looking at.” The ministry was yet to respond to this publication’s questionnaire at the time of going to press.
Molefhi could not specify the details of the consultations to this publication but sources indicated that the matter has been forwarded to Attorney General (AG) to see if there will not be any negative repercussions from the constitution. This now means former MPs who expected the approval of parliament during the July-August meeting, will have to wait a little longer, hopefully for November meeting. The adjustment which excited legislators from the opposition and the ruling party alike, seen MPs salaries surging from P23 786 to P39 197 per month or P470 364 or P285 432 per annum as basic pay.
The former legislators were to be entitled to P8000 a month for a life time. “We are told that the public pay structure does not cater for us, thus we will get the incentive only after the law has been passed by parliament which will be in the next session. This is to also create a scale for us. That is what we have been told anyway,” Association of Former MPs Vice President David Magang told this publication.
He continued; “Of course we are disappointed as former legislators because we anticipated that by now we will be getting something so that we can live a dignified life as you might know that most of us are struggling. But what can we do? We will wait for government to create that structure in the public system and we are adamant that the 12th parliament will address that because our numbers keep on increasing. Some will not be returning back after the elections,” he said.
The Association of Former Members of Parliament is acting as an advisory body to the government of the day on matters of national interest. The decision to form the association was championed by mostly Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) erstwhile members like Ray Molomo, Shirley Segokgo and Magang who are also in the committee. Anyone who once served in the August House as an MP can join the association regardless of political party affiliation.
KHAMA REFUSES TO JOIN, MOGAE SAYS HE IS READY
The association which was registered in September last year still misses two faces of former Presidents Lt Gen Ian Khama and Festus Mogae who have not yet committed to join their colleagues. “Yo, wa ga Seretse [Ian Khama] is quiet about joining us but he has been approached. So we don’t know why he is mute whether he doesn’t want to join us or what we don’t know,” Magang shared with this publication.
On the other hand he said; “Mogae said he will join but he has been away with the international business but very soon we are expecting him to be joining the association once his schedule normalizes.” For his part Khama has in the past said he is not aware of the association. “I have not been formally told about it. Besides I don’t know the procedure as to who should approach who between them and I, should they send me an invite or I should just go because, before I became a President I was an MP,” he said.
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.