Former cabinet minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has denied reports linking her to the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), reiterating that she remains a member of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
As the BPF hosts its inaugural party congress in the village of Kanye today, Venson-Moitoi was touted as among possible individuals to take up the leadership of the infant party. Venson-Moitoi’s inability to take up any role in the BPF has left interim leader, Tati West lawmaker Biggie Butale as the man who will be the touch bearer for the part. “I am a BDP card holding member and I have never submitted my name for consideration at BPF. If you were at Parliament yesterday you would have noticed my sitting arrangement that I still remain BDP until otherwise,” Venson-Moitoi said.
“If I decide anything I will obviously let you and the general public know. Venson-Moitoi would however decline to answer a question on how she would react should the BPF confront her.” Despite Venson-Moitoi clinging to BDP, it is alleged that she has extended her blessings to the new party and her long-time friend former President Lt Gen Ian Khama. Last week it was reported that the new party was divided over who should take up the leadership of the party.
Reports indicated that the party’s godfather, Khama favoured Butale to continue with the leadership of the party, while the party’s strong hold of Serowe wanted Venson-Moitoi to be coaxed to join and lead the party. Butale has been always on the forefront of the new party alongside Khama and Specially Elected councillor, Roseline Panzirah-Matshome. It is alleged that some party members were opting for Venson-Moitoi to lead the new party owing to her vast experience dating back to her days in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party to date.
Venson-Moitoi was first elected as Member of Parliament in 1999, under Specially Elected dispensation during the presidency of Festus Mogae and would later successfully contest the 2004 elections after beating Tebelelo Seretse in Serowe South primary elections. Venson-Moitoi has maintained the constituency to date totalling her years in Parliament to 20 years, a female MP record only bettered by one of her predecessors at the constituency, Dr Gaositwe Chiepe.
Dr Gaositwe Chiepe who served for 25 years (22 years of which she was Serowe South MP) as a legislator, from 1974 until 1999. This publication has been informed that Venson-Moitoi who is not seeking re-election to parliament in October, has communicated her position with the new party that she is staying put at BDP.
“Ever since she suffered humiliation at the BDP Kang Special Congress in April where she had showered interests in challenging President Masisi and later withdrawing at the eleventh hour, Moitoi has kept a low profile and is very reluctant to join the new party. But we remain optimistic that she will join at a later stage,” said a source. BPF held their first press conference this week, which was addressed by Butale, Roseline Panzirah-Matshome and Khama.
At the press conference Butale said the ongoing congress is an elective congress and party members will contest various positions within the executive committee. However, reports indicate that Tati East legislator Samson Moyo Guma who has since been expelled from the BDP and fled the country amid assassinations attempts earlier this year, will not make it to Kanye. Guma has been associated with the party Chairman position while Pansirah- Matshome is linked with position of Secretary General.
It is not yet clear when Guma will join as he is reported to be in neighbouring South Africa but has confirmed that he will contest his constituency under the new party. Guma a maverick politician, was expected to take centre stage in Kanye today and direct the new political party policies and manifesto. Another source said despite Moitoi not joining now, surprise can be expected at Kanye today as one or two familiar faces will be unveiled.
The party has adopted the blue colour to be used in their clothing branding and the yellow colour to be used as the party colour during the general elections this year. The party has also unveiled a clock as their official party logo with the slogan ‘Ke Nako’. The former President Ian Khama who addressed the media for the first time said his role in the new party will be articulated at the congress today.
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.