Tati East Member of Parliament Guma Moyo has told Director of Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM) Ruth Maphorisa to ignite a process of reconciling government with unions representing public service employees.
Moyo, who is a member of Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said for the purpose of achieving progress and quality service delivery in the public service, the perennial impasse between the two parties should be put to bed.
Moyo told Maphorisa that the ongoing battles, the latest being a court battle between Botswana Federation of Public Employees Union (BOFEPUSU) and Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) over the bargaining council, should be acted on because they are costing government dearly.
The Tati East legislator reckons that the bargaining council, which comprises of unions representing public service employees and government is the root of the problem. Moyo said, government, as an interested party should act in a decisive manner to ensure that the perennial stand-off is resolved.
“There is a need to urgently act on this matter because it is affecting service delivery in the public service,” he said.
While the ongoing case is largely a war between BOPEU and BOFEPUSU, Moyo is of the view that the bargaining council issue be resolved, and government should play anchor role.
Maphorisa told the PAC that she is expecting the Court of Appeal to make a judgement on the matter soon. This comes after BOPEU and BOFEPUSU failed to agree to negotiation over who should or should not seat at the bargaining council. This impasse is a result of BOPEU deciding to de-affiliate from BOFEPUSU amid clash of egos between BOFEPUSU Labour Secretary Jonhson Motshwarakgole and BOPEU President Andrew Motsamai.
Members of the PAC committee Biggie Butale has urged DPSM as an employer to act towards review of the Bargaining Council and construct it in a manner that will create less problems for the parties taking part in the council.
After the court judgement, Maphorisa said, they will relook into the structure of the bargaining council and its constitution with the view of effecting progressive changes in the council.
The Bargaining council came into being in 2010, following the decision to allow public service employees to unionise.
Maphorisa took over at DPSM at the beginning of 2015 following the appointment of Carter Morupisi as Permanent Secretary to the President, inheriting a legacy left by her predecessor-an unsavoury relationship between unions and government.
Briefing the media last year after her appointment, Maphorisa said she was keen on restoring peace between government and trade unions. Maphorisa also told journalists that she had efforts aimed at facilitating the efficiency of the Bargaining Council so that it fully discharges its mandate.
Despite assurances made by Maphorisa to transform the DPSM, relations between government and trade unions have barely improved. As the two unions were warring in court, government moved to increase public service employees’ salaries by 3 percent.
The High Court however, after BOFEPUSU challenged the decision ruled that the increment, which was done outside the bargaining council, was illegal, and was therefore declared null and void by Industrial Court Judge Harold Ruhukya.
In a move which was interpreted as war against unions, Maphorisa transferred Johannes Tshukudu, the President of BOFEPUSU from Tlokweng College of Education to Ministry of Transport and Communications.
BOFEPUSU dragged government to court again to challenge the decision and won. Industrial Court Judge Ruhukya said that Tshukudu’s transfer from his post as Senior Lecturer to Chief Administration was illegal because the affected did not have a requisite training and experience in administration which could lead to him losing his job as a result of inefficiency.
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.