In what could be a letdown for the LGBTI community in Botswana, Justice Leatile Dambe missed the application of the landmark case in which transgender woman, Tshepo Ricki Kgositau wants to challenge the refusal of the Registrar of National Registration to change the gender marker on her identity document.
Justice Dambe who is presiding over the case was said to be on leave of absence. Kgositau, 30, wants the gender marker on her identity document changed from Male to Female. Members of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) thronged the court gallery in numbers in support of “Ricky.” High Court through Justice Mothobi announced the postponed of the case to 12 December in which Dambe will have occupied her seat. At the heart of the matter, Ricky is challenging the refusal of the Botswana government, department of Registrar of National Registration to change the gender marker on her identity document as a transgender woman.
Currently the gender marker illustrates that Ricky is a male. According to the court papers, Ricky was assigned a male sex at birth, since a very early age she has identified as a woman and subsequently was socialised as one by her family. “The applicant requests that the High Court orders the respondents (government) to change the gender marker on her identity document (Omang) from ‘male’ to ‘female’. This is a simple request which is vital to the protection of the applicant’s human dignity, well-being and security,” papers point out.
It is understood that the court application includes supporting evidence on affidavit from her mother, siblings and relatives, as well as psychological and medical evidence to the effect that her innate gender identity is and has since an early age always been female and that her family has embraced her and loved her as a woman. “The applicant (Ricky) submits that sex consists of more than chromosomal or biological factors and that her identity document should reflect and give precedence to her gender identity, which only became apparent after her birth,” papers highlight.
Why Ricky wants to change her omang from male to female
Ricky submits in the papers that the incorrect reflection of her gender as ‘male’ instead of ‘female’ on her identity document is causing her considerable and ongoing emotional distress while increasing her vulnerability to abuse and violence from state and non-state actors. She submits that the refusal to change her gender marker violated her rights to dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, equal protection of the law, freedom from discrimination and freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment.
What the High Court will determine on the matter..
She therefore requests the High Court to consider whether the government’s refusal to issue her with a new identity document that correctly reflects her gender identity as ‘female’ constitutes a violation of her constitutional rights. She also wants the court to consider whether the government’s justification for the limitation of the Ricky’s constitutional rights is reasonable and justifiable. The transgender woman argues that the National Registration Act provides the framework by which the State can change the Omang of the applicant to reflect her gender identity and uphold her constitutional rights.
“The Act allows the Registrar to change the particulars of a registered person in circumstances where these particulars materially affect the person’s registration. The applicant (Ricky) argues that the State has a duty to fully realise the constitutional protection of her dignity and having an identity document that correctly reflects her gender identity is fundamental to realising the dignity and security of the applicant.”
Lessons from previous and related cases…
In March 2016, the Botswana Court of Appeal gave an important judgment (Attorney General v Rammoge) which emphasised the human rights apply to every person. “Members of the gay, lesbian and transgender community, although no doubt a small minority, and unacceptable to some on religious or other grounds, form part of the rich diversity of any nation and are fully entitled in Botswana, as in any other progressive state, to the constitutional protection of their dignity,” the Judge then stated. Ricky’s case is believed to be a built up on the gays and lesbians judgment and seeks to ensure that the rights of transgender persons are also recognised – in practice as well.
What is gender identity and transgender?
Gender identity is one's personal experience of one's own gender. Gender identity can correlate with assigned sex at birth, or can differ from it completely. All societies have a set of gender categories that can serve as the basis of the formation of a person's social identity in relation to other members of society. Transgender is denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. The applicant, Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, is represented by Lesego Nchunga of Nchunga & Associates, with the support of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre while the government is represented by the Attorney General.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.