More than 800 refugees and children who have never lived in Namibia have been given 28 days from today to have registered for voluntary repatriation back to their indigenous country, failure in which the government of Botswana will forcibly repatriate them.
The idea to repatriate the Namibians comes after their refugee status lapsed when the cessation clause was invoked in 2015. The refugees were given up to the 11th of July last year to have registered for repatriation to their country of origin which they refused. Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi told them then that failure to comply will result in them being declared illegal immigrants. “You are not refugees, nor are you guests of the government of Botswana,” he said.
The Namibians then through the courts of law interdicted their repatriation. They contended that the repatriation process lacked the assurances and the reasons for which they fled their country in the late 90s. According to Kgathi, the environment is now conducive for them to return home to participate in the socio-economic, cultural and political arena of their home country.
Last week however the government won an appeal in which they wanted the Namibians to go back home. Already the government has issued a Caprivians with correspondence that they will have to register for voluntary repatriation before end of this month. “The minister is expected to meet them at the end of this month. But for now the decision has been taken that they register for the voluntary repatriation. The plan is, by beginning of September the process of ferrying them back to Namibia should start.
Failure to register for the repatriation will see them now being forced back to Namibia through the immigration law, because they will no longer be refugees but rather immigration laws will preside by being detained at the center of illegal immigrants before being deported back,” a source from government enclave told this publication. Unlike last year, this time the refugees will only be provided with transport and foot in transit and will not be given any incentives.
“UNHCR will not avail any of those incentives offered in the past because they did that in goodwill not like they are entitled to those. Last year they could have got $300, basic building materials and food rations for the time being as they settle but this time around there will not be any of those,” added the informant on Thursday morning. Efforts to contact UNHCR head of mission in Botswana Arvind Gupta were futile as he is said to be abroad.
NAMIBIANS VOW TO FIGHT GOV’T
Meanwhile the Caprivi community spokesperson, Felix Kakula has maintained that they are not going anywhere. “People have accepted the judgement as the wish of government, weak as we are, we have nothing to do, but we are not going to surrender to the Namibian government by voluntary repatriation. We are very disappointed with Botswana democracy at this point” he told WeekendPost.
Kakula has emphasized that they do not need anyone to tell them about the safety of Namibia adding that whoever does that should update them about the stand of Namibian government regarding the United Democratic Party (UDP). “The administration of President Geingob must tell us if we are welcome as UDP members back home then we will be more than happy to register and go just one day all of us. So that when we get there will be questions about the Caprivi Strip without fear,” he said.
He continued; “If Botswana send us by force without us registering then Namibia should open their prisons because immediately we arrive we will ask many questions regarding Caprivi Strip. So we have declared ourselves dead on this matter, either dying on the hands of Botswana if they so wish or die in the hands of oppressor who have killed many in cold blood and able to convince the world in the name of wisdom and politics.”
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.