Suspended former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful for Mogoditshane constituency, Tshepang Mabaila has this week in unexpected turn of events announced his withdrawal from the race as independent candidate and has since moved to close ranks with President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Mabaila announced this week in press conference that in withdrawing from the race to pledge support for BDP candidate, Tumiso Rakgare, he has since written a letter to Masisi seeking to be accepted back into the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. Mabaila, who had won the party primaries for Mogoditshane constituency early last year, was last year July provisionally suspended after being accused of having participated in a motion of no confidence tabled in parliament against President Masisi.
On 5th October 2018, the BDP Central Committee slapped Mabaila with suspension for committing offences against the rules and regulations and General Code of Conduct of the party. In a move perceived as purging candidates supposedly linked with Khama by Masisi leadership, Mabaila found himself at the receiving end. Mabaila however stated this week that he still upholds that he did not do anything wrong prior his suspension.
In writing to Masisi requesting his suspension to be lifted, Mabaila said he has met all the requirements needed from a candidate and all that he was expected to do to gain the party’s trust. Mabaila pointed out that he has maintained a clean relationship status with the President and has never uttered or said anything that could jeopardize his suspension from being lifted. “I am committed and want to work for the BDP, we cannot dispute Masisi has done quite a number of good things since attaining his seat. I am willing to work closely with him to help the BDP win the general elections,” he said.
Despite awaiting response from the Masisi, Mabaila is convinced that his decision is in the interest of the party and it is not about serving his personal interests. “The decision I took was not for my interest but that of the party. I took this decision because I want BDP to win. We need to work hand in hand with the President,” he said.
Mabaila stated that he will support BDP in Mogoditshane and help the party reclaim the constituency. BDP lost the constituency in 2014 general elections to Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), currently it is under Alliance for Progressives (AP)’s Sedirwa Kgoroba. Mabaila has however declared that he acknowledges there are problems within the party that needs immediate intervention.
DID MABAILA CLOSE RANKS WITH BDP TO AVOID INVESTIGATIONS?
In his response to investigations on him by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS), Mabaila criticised allegations that he had acquired fake certificates, stressing that it is important for him to clear his name. Mabaila has however contended that the certificates were not fake but the course he had studied was not accredited as per the law.
“There is a school called Balford University, I applied and got admitted. My certificates were couriered. This was just an issue of accreditation not fake certificate and there was nothing I could do about it. Batswana need to know, I did not fake certificates,” he explained. Mabaila has said he is not immune to investigations and that if he does not pay tax BURS will come after him. “This is a matter of national concern, if I do not pay tax BURS will come after me, this has nothing to do with me deciding to re-join the party. Tax evasion affects us all,” Mabaila explained.
Mabaila is allegedly facing multiple charges from money laundering to probe on his properties reportedly developed around Gaborone. In what is alleged a target to the former President’s inner circle, a very close ally to former President Dr Ian Khama, has now pulled out as an independent candidate, despite evident efforts by the former President in helping him campaign.
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.