Former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama has no choice but to side with Biggie Butale for the leadership of Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). This comes after the more experienced Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi could not raise her hand and join the new party.
Butale, a recently suspended Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) member and Member of Parliament for Tati West has been at the forefront of the formation of the party. “He has been running the affairs of the party together with Roseline Panzirah-Matshome and from a distance Samson Moyo Guma. The influence of the trio has had other would-be members being sidelined,” said a source within the BPF.
“The choice of Butale over Venson-Moitoi is raising worries that a party in its early formation will lose credibility. Not long before Khama was backing Venson-Motoi, and to now switch to Butale without explanation has gotten many to be disillusioned.” The belief within the majority of the BPF members is that Venson-Moitoi has been on a campaign since December vying for the BDP leadership; therefore it would make sense to continue with her and ride on her momentum. They want her lured to the party.
They also point to her experience as an administrator, Member of Parliament and Cabinet as qualities that can be used to sell her to voters. “At her age she can be seen as unifier than a longtime office bearer thereby giving space for other future leaders to be groomed. Some in the party believe Butale’s leadership style is already of concern. He is thought to be combative, and doesn’t allow for consultation. As it is, nobody knows basic information of the party, where the offices are, who is coordinating things, and even how delegates are going to get to Kanye,” said a concerned party member.
All this they blame on Butale who seems to have centered everything on himself, it is said. One former MP stated that: “Khama is making the same mistakes he made with Masisi. Khama is a nice person, but he is naïve. Taking an unpopular, leader and imposing him on people. What he Khama often sees in these people, only him knows.” “Again, Butale is being used just like he got Mpho Balopi from obscurity and made him Secretary General of the party.
The result – division within the party he Khama left in the BDP and a decline in popularity. As a matter of fact, we are grateful for some of his initiatives together with Roseline to get things going for BPF. But let them be assigned appropriate responsibilities that match their skills set and capacity for now. Biggie Butale will have time to lead the BPF at an opportune time, but now is not the right time.” The source went further to say that often Khama chooses people for his own interests rather than that of the collective or the organisation.
Another cause of concern for the party is the insistence of Khama and Butale to hold inaugural elections at the upcoming congress in Kanye. Many within the party say the party is not ready for elections, and that besides the elections outcome will divide the party. They hold a view that what the party should be aiming for is an interim arrangement, one that allows for proper building of party infrastructure, procedures and processes. “Let’s learn to walk before we start running. As it we are beseeched with many elementary problems, an internal election is not and should not be a priority.”
“We however feel the momentum with BPF. We are the talk of town. While we may not win all constituencies, we are certainly sure we are going to make a dent on the electoral space. We are going to make sure BDP is not returning to power, and we are comfortable in having coalition pact run the next government of Botswana. “We will win the combined Central and the North, and have UDC bring in the South to form a new government after the elections. And we do not fear a Boko Presidency.”
Contacted for comment, Venson-Moitoi dismissed the allegations that she has interest in BPF presidency. “I have never said to anybody that I want to be president of the BPF. I never sought residency at BPF. I still have my BDP membership,” she said. For his part, Khama indicated that he is surprised at the allegations. “BPF is a democratic party which does not belong to an individual. Its office bearers are elected by the people at a constituted congress where delegates are at liberty to nominate anyone of their choice.”
Meanwhile Butale did not dispute the allegations of divisions within the party, but noted that, “In a party setup there will always be misunderstandings. And misunderstandings do not mean fights.” Party spokesperson Panzirah-Matshome only said, “The people shall choose their leadership on July 6 in Kanye, not Khama.”
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.