Former Cabinet Minister Tebelelo Seretse, who was recently roped in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) as additional member, has spewed venom to her long-time political nemesis Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi over the ‘attack’ in Kang and expressed delight on her appointment within the party’s high structure.
Venson-Moitoi was contesting for the party presidency with the incumbent Mokgweetsi Masisi until withdrawing on the eleventh hour said: “This election is a sham and I don’t want to be seen legitimizing that. Masisi will contest alone; I won’t withdraw at the hall like others suggest. I don’t want to be abused by Tebelelo, I am old not to be slurred up by my little sisters like Tebelelo [Seretse].” This has not been taken lightly by Seretse and who responded in an interview with this publication.
“If for a fact she was refereeing to me as that Tebelelo she referred to, I was not raised like that. I am a sophisticated politician who has lost many times including to her but know how to take defeat as it is part of the game. She is my MP but she miscalculated in contesting but I take off my hat for her.”
She however said they are yet to meet as she is still running around with party errands especially that she has been given a vast area to look after. “I am still getting to know my constituencies especially the challenges they face so that I can present them to the CC. For now we haven’t met because of those reasons.”
The duo’s rivalry dates back to 2003 where they both contested for the Serowe South constituency. By then Seretse was the area MP while Venson-Moitoi was a Specially Elected legislator. The two and their supporters did not have nice words for each other. In 2015 when Seretse challenged Masisi for the party chairmanship Venson-Moitoi did not support her and this time around Seretse also returned the favour.
HER APPOINTMENT IN THE CC
Seretse who has been roped in the party’s Central Committee as additional members said she is delighted to have been voted with trust to be in the party’s high structure. “I was co-opted to the committee as the constitution dictates that any structure could co-opt and I am very thankful for being in the committee,” she said in an interview.
She said she brings a wealth of experience in the CC as she served under all of them under four presidents. “I have always been on and off in the CC. I started during President Masire, Mogae [Festus], Khama [Ian] and now Masisi and im very thankful and I guess my experience will come in handy to assist the party in whatever way possible,” she said.
SAYS THIS TIME IS MORE CHALLENGING
The former ambassador, Seretse said joining the CC this time is more demanding than ever. “It is an election year and obviously the momentum has changed, more over I join the CC which has been together and it is difficult to undo certain things because already the committee has gone past them,” she said and continued, “I have been assigned to monitor the Central region which is very vast I should therefore work very hard to ensure that the BDP takes all the constituencies in the region which is a challenge.”
ABOUT THE FACTIONS
With the party deeply polarised especially prior to the congress in Kang a fortnight ago, Seretse said there is nothing she can do as factions are inherent in a political formation. “Factions are inherent, where there is a party there should be factions. The current factions compared to what we have seen in the past are less. We used to have ‘The Big 5’ and Barata Phathi, those were factions not what we are seeing right now where opponents could mingle with each other.
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.