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Did Masisi camp court AP for support?

As the date for the highly anticipated battle between President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and former Minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi draws near, alliances are being stitched to counter eventualities.

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Kang billed Special Congress and the possible motion of no confidence and Dr Masisi in Parliament are dominating the political discourse at the moment. It is reported that some of the key personnel in President Masisi’s corner have tried to connect with the Alliance for Progressives (AP) to counter any planned motion of no confidence. Masisi’s key people are reportedly aware of approximately 12 disgruntled BDP legislators who are willing to support the intended motion of no confidence planned against him.

When calculating the risk President Masisi’s supporters are said to have sort to counter the motion of no confidence by approaching a friendly disposed and newly formed AP, which has five Members of Parliament, to vote against the motion. Meanwhile some in the BDP also want to discuss a possible formation of a coalition post October. In the initial motion of no confidence tabled by Leader of Opposition Duma Boko last year, reportedly working with the anti-Masisi BDP faction — AP MPs abstained from voting, while the majority of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) MPs voted in favour of the motion.

 It is reported that Masisi team’s proposal has but been conditionally received by all the four AP MPs, except Major Gen Pius Mokgware of Gabane/Mmankgodi. AP allegedly gave Masisi a condition that they can only consider supporting him or a coalition with his government only after the general elections in October, as to be seen supporting him would not be welcomed by party members.  AP leader, Ndaba Gaolathe has however denied any agreement between his party and Masisi over voting in favour of him in motion of confidence or possible coalition.

“There has been no meeting with him [Masisi] or any proposal from him whatsoever,” Gaolathe told this publication. The motion was reportedly, as it was the case with the second one, to be moved by Boko but he reneged at the eleventh hour because his party does not want to be seen to be meddling in BDP affairs. In addition the harassment of Boko by government organs Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and members of Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) is assumed to be another contributing factor.

However, UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa has denied that links that the coalition had the intention of tabling a motion of no confidence against Masisi but admits that there have been lobbying from anti-Masisi faction to support the motion. “The UDC has no intention of tabling a motion of no confidence nor has it ever discussed or considered doing so,” Mohwasa said. “What is the case is that some of our deployees have been lobbied to support it. We will consider our options when the motion is brought up.”

Meanwhile the 12 disgruntled BDP MPs who also threaten to resign from the party and contest the 2019 elections as independent candidates have decided to wait for the aftermath of Kang Special congress before they decide on their next move. The aggrieved members of BDP who have put their weight behind Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi for the presidential race against President Masisi have vowed to take up the motion by themselves. There are also indications that a split is eminent in the BDP.

Meanwhile those in the Vensob-Moitoi camp point to possible rigging of the Kang elections. This week Venson-Moitoi asked the party to furnish her with the voters roll and enquiring on the electoral process to be used as well as who will be conducting the process. There have fears that there is a lot of discontent and no transparency in the voting process. Recently President Masisi has been going around the country officiating at regional congresses where he also donated P 5, 000 per constituency to help with preparations leading to Kang congress.

This week Venson-Moitoi came out very confident that she will emerge victorious at the Kang congress. One of the longest serving woman Legislator and Minister, Venson-Moitoi fell out of Masisi’s favor after announcing her candidacy for presidency. Under mysterious circumstances Moitoi was immediately stripped off her Ministerial post and kicked out of her Ministerial house. When contacted for comment Venson- Moitoi confirmed that she sent the enquiry but the party has not responded to her yet.

Earlier this week the alleged Venson-Moitoi camp made demands to the party and insinuated that if they are met they will likely collapse the party before Kang congress. First in the list they wanted the appointment of a new electoral board citing that the Chairman Peter Siele is biased and conflicted. They also want the rules and regulations to guide contest as code of conduct compiled by the central committee.The Moitoi faction also made it very clear that they want compilation of the voters roll and distribution of it to all candidates. They pointed out that they want the structures to be impartial.

With only few weeks to Kang, the faction made submissions that they want the congress to be postponed and relocated to a venue suited to accommodate all the delegates. The faction which is believed to be spearheaded by Samson Moyo Guma, want the harassment and intimidation of Venson- Moitoi supporters to stop forthwith and the targeted disciplinary letters to be withdrawn. They want democrats campaigning for Masisi to stop the use of state aircraft and other modes of transport under the guise of accompanying President and his vice.

The faction also submitted that the strategy and communications committee should conduct itself as governed by Constitution and Regulations and not president Masisi’s mouthpiece. They also demand that the party chairman Slumber Tsogwane meet with Venson- Moitoi to get verbal report on their grievances.  

Lastly the faction wants Venson- Moitoi campaign to be given airtime and coverage on state media as is the case with president Masisi’s campaigns. They also instructed that the DIS stop monitoring Venson-Moitoi campaign activities and interfering in an internal party contest in support of Masisi campaign. They pointed out that the DIS conduct is breach of its founding statutes, illegal and a blatant breach of the constitution of Botswana.        

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Plight of GBV amid Covid-19

26th November 2020
16-days-of-activism

The United Nation’s UNiTE campaign has marked the beginning of 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence which will end in December 10 2020, under the global theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women — is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.

The UN Women’s generation equality campaign emphasises the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.

Furthermore, the UN Secretary General’s report maintains that this year is like no other. Even before Covid-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions.

Globally, according to United Nations, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.

Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.

Evidently they suggest that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified- in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.

“In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abused, forced marriage, and harassment,” said the UN.

According to the UN, in April 2020 as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 member states responded with their strong statement of commitment.

“In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to Covid-19. Yet, much more is needed,” said the report.

Moreover, they submit that as today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action.

“It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis,” contended the UN report.

For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.

According to Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, there is urgent need to end pandemic of femicide and violence against women.

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she emphasizes that as the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against women is taking the lives of women and girls everywhere.

Therefore, she is calling on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.

These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases, and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance.

“Data this mandate has collected since 2015 through my Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80% of victims are women.  Many of these femicides are preventable. Since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories,” she argued.

GBV in Botswana

UNFDP (United Nations Population Fund) Botswana cites that, locally over 67 percent of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.

“Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and normalization. Victims of violence, the majority of which are women and girls, can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death,” indicated UNFDP

In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered on Monday 9th November at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the snowballing of GBV incidences, saying, they have prioritized drafting of a Sexual Offenders Bill to be tabled during the sitting of the 12th Parliament.

“The Bill will establish a Sex Offenders’ Registry to record and publicise names and particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences. To date twelve districts have set up the District Gender Committees in Chobe, Kweneng, Kgatleng, Kgalagadi, Maun, Serowe, Selibe-Phikwe, North East, Bobirwa Sub District, Mabutsane Sub District, Goodhope Sub District as well as Mahalapye Sub District. These committees will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also address gender based violence,” Masisi said.

The President highlighted that the Botswana Police Service, which has been dealing a lot with GBV cases has taken swift action and introduced a Toll-Free number for reports on gender based violence. He further indicated that the Police will establish a Gender and Child Protection Unit

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

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.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

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.

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