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BOFEPUSU-BOPEU settlement collapses

BOPEU President, Andrew Motsamai

The tiff between BOPEU and BOFEPUSU has proven to be a runway train crashed into smithereens. The two labour movements have failed to settle out of court and theirs will only be halted by a steep embankment in the form of a Court of Appeal (CoA) decree.

The failure to reach an out-of-court settlement by the two labour movements has been described as “indicative of our fundamental differences”, in words of one union boss.

A triad of CoA judges comprising its President, Justice Ian Kirby, Justices Isaac Lesetedi and Steven Gaongalelwe last month advised the warring labour movements to explore an out of court settlement, after Kirby had described the case as “a power struggle without facts of law”.

In its proposed terms of settlement seen by this publication, BOFEPUSU demanded that, “BOPEU irrevocably abandon both judgements of the Industrial Court that it won and that after agreeing and inking the deal, BOFEPUSU will notify CoA that its current appeal falls away.”

It also said that as part of the deal BOPEU shall pay the costs of BOFEPUSU’s current appeal at the CoA.

BOFEPUSU also demanded that as part of the deal, BOPEU must fall on its own sword and recognise the Federation’s November 2011 admission as an Acting Jointly Arrangement (AJA) into the Bargaining Council and further recognise the AJA and admission as valid and still standing.

BOFEPUSU also sought to preserve the status quo of the Bargaining Council.

Its settlement proposal states that BOPEU shall agree that: “the representation threshold referred to in clause 6.1.1 of the constitution of the Bargaining Council is met where the combined membership of the parties to an AJA equals at least one third of the membership of all recognised trade unions whose members are public officers in terms of the Public Service Act, 2008.”

It continues: “this applies for all purposes contemplated in the Constitution, including admission of trade union parties to the council in terms of clause 6 and or continued membership of trade union parties to the council in terms of clause 7 of the constitution.”

Clause 6.1.1 of the Bargaining Council states that for a union to be admitted into the Council, it shall represent at least one third(1/3) of the membership of all recognised trade unions whose members are public officers in terms of the PSA Act of 2008.

The labour bloc also states that the admission threshold into the Council shall be hung at the 28,780 mark and that the Council shall then urgently determine whether or not the joint application submitted in January 2016 by BOPEU, Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) as well as Trainers and allied Workers Union (TAWU), otherwise known as Botlhe Bargaining Forum (BBF) complies with admission requirements.

However, BOPEU in its counter-proposal gunned at overturning the status quo.

It states in its curt proposed terms that the representation threshold of 1/3 shall be reduced to 5000 members of all recognised trade unions in terms of the PSA Act. It goes on to state that this is to make the Bargaining Council an inclusive organisation allowing even the smallest trade unions an opportunity to be members of the Council in their own right.

It further states that admission to the Council be limited only to individual trade unions as compared to an AJA and that the AJA shall be only be permissible where there is a union admitted into the Council in its own right.

Is also says that each party should bear its own costs in the current appeal.

In a circular passed to regional chairpersons, BOPEU says that if it should abandon the cases it has won against BOFEPUSU, the meaning attached to it is to such conduct will be that BOPEU itself, does not believe that it was entitled to the orders granted to it by the industrial court.

It further states that BOFEPUSU terms of settlement were crafted aimed at extracting political fodder as abandoning the orders will give it breathing room to maintain that it always was right from the beginning.

BOPEU also says that if it should pay costs for BOFEPUSU in the appeal as proposed, it will give the impression that it has acted wrongly in the whole matter.

It also states that if the BBF application fails then BOFEPUSU will remain the sole trade union party to the Bargaining Council and will participate alone in the 2016/2017 wage talks.

The Court of Appeal is expected to rule on the case that Kirby described as very complex that it might take some time before the verdict is out.

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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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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

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.

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