Ktlhalefile Motshegwa has been handpicked by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to contest the Gaborone Bonninton South Parliamentary seat. The firebrand trade unionist is not under any illusion that the campaign would be easy, but readily posits that he is ready to deliver the constituency to his party.
UDC is expected to make a full announcement of candidates next week as it prepares to launch its manifesto in May. His parent union, BLLAHWU has agreed to release him on this political assignment on the understanding that his main focus will be to fight for social justice, workers’ rights, equality, natural justice, corrupt free Botswana and many other issues that affect ordinary Batswana. “We have agreed to release Comrade Motshegwa and we wish him all the best,” said TK Mokhurutshi, the President of BLLAHWU.
The constituency had to be re-allocated following the expulsion of the Sidney Pilane led Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) from the UDC. This means Motshegwa takes the baton under the aura of the Botswana National Front (BNF) whose president, Advocate Duma Boko leads the coalition.
The decision to accede to the UDC request automatically means that Motshegwa should fashion himself in a manner that resonates with other parliamentary hopefuls. He is expected to take on Alliance for Progressives (AP) president, Ndaba Gaolathe who is the incumbent in the constituency. In addition, a rejuvenated Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is confident that it stands every chance in all Gaborone constituencies owing to its new leader, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi. The BDP has summoned Chris Nthuba to battle for the constituency come October.
Explaining his decision, Motshegwa said it was not an easy one because he had to turn down the UDC’s head honchos three times, “I urged them to confirm if what they are proposing is what people in the constituency want and when they came back the third time, I was convinced that the ground is ripe for me to step in and emancipate our people,” he said.
The umbrella union body has disintegrated politically especially after its godfather, Johnson Motshwarakgole endorsed President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi. As for Motshegwa, he is very clear that he respect Motshwarakgole’s freedom of choice as he expects his to be respected. “I am currently working on a survey through a research institute to appreciate the real issues in the constituency, the demographics, and the voting patterns among other things. I want to ensure that by the time I am launched my blueprint is clear and understood by all who matter. My intention is talk people centred politics and it should never be about me,” he said.
Whilst he acknowledges that the contest will in some way be about three brands in the UDC, BDP and AP, Motshegwa is quick to point out that city politics differ from rural areas. “In the cities candidates must demonstrate what they stand for and how they intend to deliver. People are informed and aware of a lot of things,” he said. Motshegwa refuses to talk about his opponents and only wants to talk about himself and the party that he represents. He is confident that if he pulls off his campaign script perfectly, he will be in Parliament come October 2019.
The UDC performed strongly in Gaborone where it won four out of five constituencies. Besides Boko, the then UDC vice president, Ndaba Gaolathe won Gaborone Bonnington South constituency with 6 646 votes against 3 597 for BDP’s Mr Botsalo Ntuane and 1 318 for Mr Buti Chengeta (BCP). The constituency was under the BDP.â€¨â€¨Dr Phenyo Butale, who was a newcomer in active politics wrestled Gaborone Central from Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando, while former Gaborone City Council mayor, Mr Haskings Nkaigwa ousted former MP, Mr Keletso Rakhudu of the BDP in Gaborone North.
Things have since changed, the Ndaba Gaolathe led group have left the UDC and the BMD has been kicked out of the UDC, “This is what compelled me to do a survey to have a slight understanding of the dynamics today, more so that the BDP also has a new president,” Motshegwa stressed. â€¨â€¨
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.