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MPs refuse to vacate parley flats

Members of Parliament (MP) who are currently residing at Parliamentary Village flats have rejected an order to vacate the houses two weeks after the dissolution of parliament, arguing that their families will have nowhere to stay.

As President Masisi prepares to dissolve the parliament, government has taken a decision to refurbish the flats so that the incoming legislators find them in better state. Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) which has been given mandate, is set to re-paint and fix a number of structural damages. The flats’ windows, tables and other properties which were damaged during the 11th parliament will have to be replaced. WeekendPost however at time of going to press was yet to establish the total budget for the renovations.

A memo reminding the legislators to leave the flats has long been issued for them to see how they will rescue themselves but they decided not to respond until this week when they now approached President Mokgweetsi Masisi on the matter.  Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators led the request at the party’s last caucus meeting on Tuesday citing schools as the main reason.

Three MPs who spoke to this publication said it is not possible for them to vacate the houses with two months before the general elections. “There is no way how it can happen, our contract elapse in October. As far as I am concerned, we can only leave in October because our contract runs for five years,” said Francistown South MP Wynter Mmolotsi. Mochudi East MP Moagi Molebatsi also said: “We have families and some of my colleagues have their kids schooling in Gaborone so to vacate these houses is not practical.”

“As MPs we have requested President to leave us and our families to remain in these houses until end of November because we do have school going kids and some of them will be writing national examinations later this year. So we have requested to be left until then. And I must tell you that President listened to us and we will be here until then. So the renovations will maybe commence in December when the 12th parliament goes for recess,” BDP Chief Whip Liakat Kablay said when asked about this matter.

Masisi is expected to dissolve parliament anytime and apart from vacating their houses, the legislators will also be given two weeks to have cleaned up their offices located at government enclave. Not only that, constituency offices will also be closed as current legislators will cease being MPs. “Our constituency officers’ contracts will automatically elapse after that two weeks and even us as MPs this month we are likely to be getting our monthly wages for the last time depending on when the President dissolves parliament,” Kablay who is a candidate  for Letlhakeng-Lephepe constituency said.

The Parliamentary Village is a residential complex in Gaborone where MPs are housed free of charge for their entire term of office to execute their duty with ease. Earlier this year, it was revealed that MPs are failing to pay electricity bill amounting to around P200, 000. It was said since 2015, the MPs defaulted and it appears that those who have already lost primary elections or could lose during this year’s general elections intend to leave Parliament without having settled their bills. It is not clear which mechanism the government would use to force the MPs to pay the bills before parliament is dissolved for the general elections.

Parliamentary sources on the other hand told this publication that MPs have received letters requesting them to pay the bills with July set as the deadline for all to have paid. The arrangement between MPs and the government is that the cost of electricity used by an individual member should be borne by the member in full. It is said they should foot the bills every month something which they did in the formative months in parliament before defaulting.  However, in some instances it is said some legislators claim not to be aware of such agreement despite almost five years residing at Parliamentary Village.

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

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.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

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.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

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.

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