President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) are caught in two contrasting worlds, the other one suggesting snap election while the other is very much against rushed elections as it could compromise the party retaining state power.
Political observers have in the past indicated the likelihood of having a snap election, a development which will be the first of its kind since independence, if it were to happen. The constitution of Botswana empowers a sitting president to dissolve parliament at any time. According to section 90 (3); whenever parliament is dissolved, a general election of the elected members of the assembly shall be held within 60 days of the date of the dissolution and a session of parliament shall be appointed to commence within 30 days of the date of that general elections.
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is also scheduled to complete its final registration on the 28th of April 2019, a date which observers still say it allows Masisi to dissolve parliament subsequent to conclusion of the process. For more than once it is said the party has also weighed options of calling elections before the usual date of October. This was initially informed by the factions that riddled the party in the run-up to Kang Congress.
Now with the Kang chapter closed, the party has also entertained the thought again. This time it is premised on the former President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s decision to endorse opposition and independent candidates in constituencies held by BDP members who are considered hostile to the former president. There is also a possibility of Khama and those sympathetic to him forming a breakaway party before general elections.
BDP advisors have suggested to Masisi that calling elections before October could counter Khama strategy which if left unattended could compromise BDP’s chances of retaining power, sources told this publication. It is said the belief within the party is that calling a snap election will give the BDP a better chance to win and even improve their popular vote from 47 percent of last elections.
Khama’s crusade of endorsing anti-BDP candidates in some constituencies is well on track with the latest victim being Sefhare-Ramokgonami MP Dorcas Makgato who saw Khama ‘endorsing’ his opposition rival Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). It is expected that a number of BDP candidates mostly in the central region will fall by the wayside due to the ‘Khama magic’. Central region is Khama’s territory as paramount chief of Bangwato, where he commands a large following in the territory, something which observers say could work against his BDP.
While still comprehending a mind blowing and convincing suggestion of snap elections, party members tasked to oversee various regions countered that possibility. The contention, according to insiders is that BDP is not yet ready for elections. “Even if preparations could be rushed the argument is the party is not ready. A lot of ground work needs to be done, so if elections are called it could be a recipe for bad things for the party and possibly give BDP rivals a bigger bite of the cake. So that was just an advice to the leadership,” an informant close to the actions told WeekendPost this week.
The party is launching its manifesto and the 57 candidates today at UB sports arena. Reports within the party say even candidates themselves are not ready to tussle for elections. The highlighted examples are Kanye North, Lobatse, Bobonong, Maun East, Boteti West, Selibe-Phikwe East and West and Okavango constituencies.
“Most of the constituencies have candidates who do not have politics background and they are having hard-times canvassing for votes and this is not good for the party. The opposition though it seems sleeping it could haunt us. We really need to work hard in the said constituencies,” an impeccable source told this publication.
Apart from newbies, it is said areas held by cabinet ministers are also behind in terms of ground work something which gives Central Committee members assigned with various regions a hard time. Official engagements are blamed for this as “candidates rarely have time to do the spade work but rather depend on the unreliable campaign teams.”
All these have put Masisi between a rock and a hard place. It is expected that apart from engaging with those who are monitoring the regions, the president will have a meeting with the candidates in a bid to sensitize them about elections preparations. Masisi is said to be yearning to get a fresh mandate from the general populace owing to instability which has threatened his transitional term and will fight with everything possible to ensure that BDP wins the elections.
BDP according to African Monitor Report, published by United Kingdom based, Business Monitor International early this year is poised to win the upcoming general elections despite a fading public support. If the current rift in the party fails to shake the foundations the party will capitalize on a disjointed opposition to retain power.
The party according to the report will capitalize from stronger economic growth and fragmented opposition. The report which was focusing on the political and socio-economic atmosphere of African Nations, says the BDP win will be due to a series of interlocking factors which will play out ahead of the elections.
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.