Charming Vice President of opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) who doubles as leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Dumelang Saleshando has explained that the disputed ex-President of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Advocate Sidney Pilane’ s political fate lies not with the UDC but rather the BMD.
He stressed that the BMD delegates at the next congress scheduled for December (next weekend) has the leeway to get rid of Pilane. While it is now clear that Saleshando is now the UDC VP, by virtue of his position as a BCP leader, the same cannot be said about BMD. The party has been engulfed with power struggles since the Gantsi Congress in 2015 leading to one group led by Ndaba Gaolathe bolting out to form Alliance for Progressives (AP).
Sidney Pilane, who led another group, has also thereafter relinquished his position in bid to contest in the coming congress as sanctioned by the mother body of UDC. This follows the disputed July congress which was swamped by stone hurling, dogs and knife stabbing of fellow BMD members resulting in the loss of a life.
When speaking to Weekend Post this week the UDC VP Saleshando admitted that there are some calls for Pilane’s rejection in UDC precisely because his detractors believe his “credibility” will dent the UDC rendering it “unsellable” to the electorates. It is said that Pilane became an adversary to some in the opposition circles the moment he provided legal services for the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General Isaac Kgosi.
Pilane has nevertheless defended himself saying that he provides legal representation to anyone in need whether from the DISS, or any organisation even from any political formation. The UDC leader Duma Boko nonetheless never spares the spy organization when he takes to the microphone and has previously even went on stating that they will “disband” DISS once they assume state power as it’s a “useless body.” According to Saleshando, the debatable Pilane is beyond their reach as UDC leadership and in addition they therefore cannot interfere or dictate to BMD to discard him if they so wish.
“If the perception that Pilane is not politically credible holds water, then it’s in the interest of the BMD members who will vote at the next congress to reject him accordingly,” Saleshando told Weekend Post. “It is for BMD stalwarts to vote him out of the presidency if they don’t want him at the UDC leadership,” the BCP leader said. He stressed that if the party fails to remove him at the individual party level, they will then continue with him as another UDC Vice President regardless of whether some believe he is not appealing to the electorates or not.
Warns AP that time is running out
The BCP President also warned the newly formed Alliance for Progressives (AP) that time is racing against them to join one opposition block which remains the only viable option to defeat the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). “We call on AP that the ball is in their court as they are the only ones left outside UDC in the opposition,” he highlighted. He pointed out that if they decide to join UDC, there will be more discussions around the issue of constituencies and it can be resolved amicably to suit both parties’ needs.
“The issue of constituency allocation is a subject to negotiations, not only to BMD but others in the UDC as well. BMD must be realistic and should be able to relinquish those that are not practically winnable for those remaining at the BMD and allocate them to AP. We remain open and ready to undertake such exercise.” He added “we should do this with the recognition that AP was never part of the UDC talks, but if they decide to join us opportunities will be crafted.”
He continued to state that the AP should make sure they decide before the Primary elections commence or otherwise the bus will leave without them. Saleshando added that it has always been AP position that whoever does not join the UDC should be rejected at the polls and they have always articulated it very well and hope they will leave by their word. If AP continues and decides to go it alone, Saleshando said it will lead to opposition vote splits in which the main beneficiary, as has always been, will be the ruling BDP. Meanwhile, it is still unclear whether AP, if re-joins the UDC which chances are it will be comprising of Pilane of the BMD, whom they left the party as a reason, will be able to work with him again at the umbrella party.
On the recent UDC countrywide public rallies
Saleshando said that the recent countrywide public rallies were intended to give people re-assurances that “all is well” in the UDC despite the mass group departure that formed the AP though most of which were from the BMD. “As leaders we achieved more than we expected. The response is awesome and overwhelming. We could see and sense that people across the country are more than ready to vote in the coming 2019 General Elections,” the UDC VP insisted.
However Saleshando still has not yet found a constituency
Meanwhile, the former two time Gaborone Central legislator conceded that he is still hunting for a constituency to contest on during the 2019 General Elections. He said next year finding the constituency will be a priority. “Yes I have not yet found a constituency and I think this issue will be a priority next year. Some constituencies have already approached me. But most people only talk through informal engagements on the matter.”
He also took time to clarify that he has never expressed interest in contesting Maun East constituency which is in the hands of another BCP stalwart in Keretetse Kekgonegile as he performed exceptionally well in the last elections. Instead he said some party members made the calls for him to contest in the constituency and others also opposed and both are within their rights. In terms of Gaborone South, he also clarified that he was never approached to contest in the area. With regard to the BPP, he said they have less numbers in the UDC but makes a lot of noise.
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.