Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) officials mediating at the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) impasse have rubbished the talks alluding to a formation of a new party by Ndaba Gaolathe group.
A high level source who sits at the talks deliberating on the BMD mediation confirmed to Weekend Post that Ndaba group “did not mention or present the new party proposal at the meeting” but was only emphasizing on “the need to go for a re-run of the party congress” subsequent to the disputed one. “So as UDC we should not act on the basis of threats of forming a new party by some people entitled to their opinions – it could be just threats – and we can’t plan on the basis of speculation,” he insisted when queried on the new talked-about party said to be named Botswana Peoples Movement (BPM).
Speculation was rife this week that the party will be registered at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) but the UDC dismissed the allegations. According to the immaculate source, the talks of the formation of party if they are anything to go by it would mean that the Ndaba group request for UDC mediation was not done in good faith from the beginning. The mother body has acceded to meet the besieged party two groups separately and so far has met with Ndaba’s and waiting to meet with the other one headed by Advocate Sidney Pilane on the 4th September 2017.
The new date set follows their request to postpone the planned meeting of the 24 August which failed as the leader Pilane was said to be outside the country. In light of the two warring factions who now could not see eye to eye particularly following the Bobonong disputed congress, the mother body has since written to both camps to mediate in which they welcomed the move. Just this week, Ndaba led group which were around 30 member delegation, met with the UDC top brass to deliberate on their submission in the impasse – which threatens the life of the new opposition entrant and by large and extension the new opposition coalition.
The coalition is to be tested in its debut in 2019 General Elections as one entity comprising the beleaguered BMD, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP). According to the high level member of UDC sitting at the talks deliberating on the mediation, they see postponement of the meeting by Pilane faction as reasonable because the ring leader was outside the country on the said date allotted for the meeting.
“So we felt it was reasonable to postpone as we wanted all group members to be present when they undertake submissions at the mediation particularly the leaders. We don’t want to meet with a portion of the committee. We don’t want to have a deliberation and they go narrate somewhere else,” the leading partner in the talks told Weekend Post. The Pilane faction, he said sent a letter to the UDC top brass suggesting some options of dates to consider for meeting them when they will be present all of them to make submissions.
In return the UDC wrote back to them indicating that “we settle for the 4th September 2017,” the member pointed out who also said they felt that between now and the 4th is a reasonable time to accede to their request. The top politician said however by acceding to their request doesn’t demonstrate that they are biased in anyway. He justified by pointing out that: “you remember the same Pilane group requested for recusal of BNF Vice President Prince Dibeela but since they failed to provide valid reasons we also did not assent to their request.”
According to the UDC member, he also said they felt the suggestion by Ndaba group to have resolved the matter by August 31st was also not reasonable. He added that the BMD, to their admittance has been grappling with the standoff for more than two years now, and wondered how they are expected to resolve the issue instantly as if they are magicians. “Anyway we told them to exercise patience on the matter as we move swiftly to address the matter cautiously,” he said.
Information has also surfaced that Boko may have tried to intervene before the Bobonong congress but the legitimate party leader then may have felt that the situation is under control. It is said he was adamant and believed that the congress will resolve the matter. The UDC source said they want to reach a compromise where both sides may climb down from their earlier positions. Indications however suggest that both parties have reached an irreconcilable stage. They have proved that they no longer can work with each other as they don’t share common values and vision.
When speaking on behalf of the UDC, party official mouthpiece Moeti Mohwasa said they cannot speak to the media on the matter unless their communication has reached the intended recipients (Pilane faction). BMD is embroiled in bickering two factions both whom claim legitimacy to National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party. However Weekend Post has it on good authority that the letter confirming the 4th September for Pilane group meeting has reached the Pilane group and now they only await for the leader to return to the country.
The UDC spokesperson also dismissed reports of a new party looming while stressed that they “are still ceased with reconciling the two groups to find a common goals and we are focused on that.” The Botswana Movement for Democracy-BMD National Executive Committee led by President Ndaba Gaolathe appeared before the UDC NEC on the 22nd of August 2017. The objective of the meeting was to present oral and written submissions of our case in order to help the committee find a solution to the Bobonong BMD impasse.
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.