Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Nkatla Morupisi has once again assumed the starring role in the interpretation of the law in so far as assistance that former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama may be entitled to from Government is concerned; and the showdown is heading to court.
On the 26th of February 2019, Morupisi penned a savingram to the Senior Private Secretary to the Former President III in reference to a proposed trip for former President Khama to Dharamsala, India from 8th -12th March 2019. Khama has been invited by the Central Tibetan Administration in India to officiate at the 60th National Uprising Day on the 10th March 2019. Khama’s office had written to the Office of the President on 22nd February 2019 informing them of the trip for financial and logistical support.
Morupisi was off his mark on the 26th February 2019 stating that, “As you may recall, Botswana subscribes to the “One China Policy”, and essentially this means we regard Tibet as part of China. Furthermore, Botswana’s relations with the People’s Republic of China suffered on the issue of Tibet last; and therefore as a country we do not intend to engage in anything which can further sour our relations with China. Botswana does not recognize Tibet as an Independent State.”
Morupisi reminded Khama’s office that Botswana and China relations are just warming up as resuscitated by the recent State Visit to China. “It would therefore not argue well for the Government of Botswana to sponsor or support (financially, diplomatically or logistically) any personality, especially a high profile individual as the former President, to interact with the Tibetan Group, which is in exile in India.”
In his savingram Morupisi advised the former President not to accept the invitation from the Tibetan Group. “However, should you insist on honouring the invitation, then be aware that it will be difficult for the Government of Botswana to facilitate the trip for the occasion. This would sincerely not be in the interest of Botswana,” wrote Morupisi.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi viisted Beijing, China, last year and made some concessions hence extracting deals from his counterpart, Xi Jingping. At the time China extended some P340 million for Botswana’s development and on top of that, cancelled Botswana’s P80million debt. Masisi’s state visit also calmed the frosty relations between China and Botswana, which erupted last year over a planned visit of Tibet’s spiritual leader, Dalai Lama to Botswana for a peace conference. China and Botswana relations date back to 1975 and the foundation of the relationship is in the spirit of the One China Policy, which Botswana has always respected.
During the visit Masisi committed to review the immigration policies with a view to relax visa and work permit requirements for investors, businesspeople and other foreign nationals visiting the country as either tourists or workers. Botswana and China have signed Memorandum of Understanding on various areas of cooperation during the recent state visit.
But Khama is not taking Morupisi’s rejection lying down. In this protracted war that has pitted once close allies, the Former President has made it clear that he will approach the courts for redress because he is entitled to government assistance on logistics and finances. “I think I will take the legal route. As much as I know I am entitled to four international trips per year and they do not have a say on where I am going. This is unacceptable. Those people value my leadership,” said Khama.
Khama has had a run in with the Masisi administration in the last 12 months with his main protagonist being Morupisi. The former President is also having a political battle with his successor whom he is accusing of setting government institutions such as the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) on him and his associates. Masisi succeeded Khama on 1st April 2018 and the former has already told the nation that the transition period has been hectic while the latter dismisses the claim.
Trade value between Botswana and China is skewed in China’s favour. The trade value between China and Botswana was US$ 266 million as of last year. Chinese statistics show that in the same period, the outflow of foreign direct investment from China to Botswana dropped 77 percent year-on-year to US$ 18.78 million, while the amount of FDI from China to SADC was US$ 1.07 billion. â€¨â€¨China’s main imports from Botswana were jewellery, precious metals and their products, mineral sand and ash; oil seed kernels, clothing and accessories.
The Tibetan invitation is not the first development that has ignited a confrontation between the Government and former President Khama. Just recently the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation had to release a statement rebuking the former President over his utterances directed at US President Donald Trump. Khama had labeled Trump a racist. None the less Khama held his own insisting that he is entitled to his opinion and that he has been consistent in his assessment of Trump even when he was President.
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.