As the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) prepare for its intense special congress billed for Kang next month, skeletons are beginning to tremble from the coffins as more seeds of discord break the surface.
Sources close to Tsholetsa House have revealed that this past week President Mokgweetsi Masisi summoned Gaborone South to State House with a warning stern over allegations that the constituency which is led by Meshack Mthimkhulu is secretly endorsing Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi in her presidential bid against Masisi. In a secret meeting held at the President’s residence, it is revealed that the fuming Masisi threatened to take action against anyone who is not supporting him.
However some democrats who spoke on conditions of anonymity disclosed that they are being harassed and live under concern under Masisi’s leadership. Some of the party members who continue to suffer the same fate are people who still associate themselves with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama. Sometime at the beginning of the year President Mokgweetsi Masisi called all the regions to a lunch at the State House to solicit for support and consolidate his grip on the party.
The bone of contention however is the issue of endorsing party presidential candidate. Allegations have come out widespread after the Serowe meeting of elders held two weeks back where Venson- Moitoi and former president Ian Khama attended indicating that there are some regions that have endorsed Masisi but are secretly supporting Venson- Moitoi.
When contacted for comment Gaborone South parliamentary candidate Meshack Mthikhulu denied meeting President Masisi over the matter but however admitted that there is a confusion caused by the race for regional chairperson between Lotty Manyapedza and Pelonomi Bantsi. He said the current chairperson Alfred Moatlhaping will be contesting for position of secretary thus splitting votes and bringing in factions over who is supporting who. “At the moment delegates are torn between Manyapedza and Bantsi for the chairmanship race. However Gaborone South is fully behind president Masisi,” he said.
Some party insiders say the elders meeting held in Serowe the past two weeks sent a strong message to the party and shows the split is eminent. It is alleged that some members of parliament will soon resign from the party and contest the 2019 general elections as independent candidates. A source close to the developments said if Masisi return victorious from Kang Congress, the BDP will be headed for the worst. It is alleged that some staunch party supporters are determined to vote the opposition.
The current chairperson of Gaborone South Alfred Moatlhaping said he has shown interest in contesting for the secretary since Tumy Modise will not be contesting. He said after consultation with the elders he has decided not to contest and wait till October. He however said the region is fully behind Masisi.
In his last interview with WeekendPost former President Ian Khama said he is not shaken and still put his weight behind Venson Moitoi. He said the Palapye retreat did not change anything, the situation still remains the same. “We are today, still where we were before Palapye, my position hasn’t changed. Khama said as to how the campaigns and preparations are going, he reverted this publication to the relevant people who are responsible and directly involved in that regard.
When commenting on the endorsement videos and messages circulating on social media where democrats are seen endorsing president Mokgweetsi Masisi on his presidential race against Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi, Khama said there are two things, an indication of lack of confidence in the leader and one is that they are promised something for them to do that.
“Some of them may be genuine supporters, there is no doubt but others are being enticed. I‘ve never seen it but I know in the past where people were doing it for their own personal campaigns as candidates selling themselves to the electorates but when you then organize a structure of a whole party to go and approach people to come and do videos to support, clearly it means you don’t feel confident of your own”. Khama also alluded to the fact that on the issue of primary elections, the videos are not allowed but it is silent on the event of presidential race.
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.