It will be an eventful year for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), apart from the much anticipated central committee elective congress slated for winter this year, the Youth Wing of the ruling party will in two weeks’ time elect a new National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC) in Tsabong.
Expected to be one of the highly contested youth elective congresses in the history of BDP youth politics, seven teams were initially assembled to battle it out for a place in the NYEC, however sources close to the BDP youth circles reveal that the teams have decreased to six. The teams, it is expected, will merge towards what is forecast to be a mouth watering contest, further reducing the number of contestants.
The Youth congress is expected to set the tone for the BDP 2017 calendar of events. Speaking to WeekendPost on Wednesday, Collin Mochoti confirmed to this publication that he has decided with his team to dismantle and seek NYEC positions under Thabo Autlwetse’s leadership, reducing the chairmanship contestants to six. The contestants for the chairmanship are Thabo King Autlwetse, Vuyo Notta, Foxx Segwai, Bruce Nkgakile, Ronald Kgathi and Simon Mavange.
“Yes I have taken the decision alongside a team of young democrats I initially assembled under my wing to merge with Thabo Autlwetse‘s team towards forming a formidable force to represent BDP youth,” he said. Mochoti ‘s compromise to settle for Committee Secretary General position under Autlwetse’s team leaves a 6 Man race at Tsabong to replace Andy Boatile who is said to be eyeing Shaw Kgathi’s Deputy Secretary General position come June/July this year.
A well know youth activist who attracts controversial critics at times told WeekendPost that he believes is the right man for the BDP NYEC Chairmanship. A business man in his own right, Nkgakile who announces on social media more often that his bank accounts seats at millions noted that he is not bending to any compromise that gives him a position less than that of Chairmanship.
“I am contesting for this position for 1 reason, to influence policy,” he said in an interview this publication. “I have exhausted all the levels of empowering young people, from business seminars, capacity building workshops, and so forth I am now taking this challenge to complete the job by running for a position that will enable me to influence national youth policy crafting,” said Nkgakile.
The commercial farmer and Former President Sir QKJ Masire’s Protégée argues that BDP needs revived party structures. “Right now it’s even difficult for us to campaign because there are no structures to engage at the ward and constituency levels, especially youth structures, those are some things that I intend to voice out and fix as the NYEC Chair,” he said.
Nkgakile who is the Mastermind behind Kgang-Tseleng Setswana Debate, Miss Africa amongst other impactful projects vowed to advocate for the return of Youth Parliament and engagement of youth in Job creation amongst other things. The former Silent Shout TV presenter rubs shoulders with national leaders and prides himself with doing business with South African Zulu Kingdom King Buthelezdi. Within BDP activism circles he enjoys backing from BDP diehard fans Selwana Kesebonye and legendary student politician and women empowerment advocate Thato Best Dineo.
Many believe it is his time after he suffered a marginal defeat at Masunga 2015 congress when Andy Boatile retained his chairmanship for a second term. Autlwetse confirmed to WeekendPost this week that he is confident of winning this time after roping in Collen Mochoti’s numbers who he claims is very a influential figure within BDP youth corridors. He noted he is more familiar with BDP culture and traditions than any other candidate.
“What separates me from others is that I rose through the BDP ranks from the grassroots cell structure through to regional and national structures. I understand the party and its traditions and any innovation I would implement would be without compromising the party's identity,” he said. The former NYEC information officer who also served as a secretary in the Gaborone Central region stipulates that BDP needs to have a clear grooming machinery and good leadership retention
“We need to groom and retain leaders and not continue developing leadership for the opposition. That requires a party man who has its ethos rooted in him,” he noted adding that the primary mandate of party structures is to further the party's political interests while also advising government within constitutional limits without playing a parallel government. “The risk of electing people without an understanding of the intricate relationship between party and government would be to create a conflict between the two. All democrats with an interest in NYEC Chairmanship are my competition; it takes a special bond between member and institution for one to volunteer themselves to serve, all who have thus far are worthy,” said Autlwetse.
Mavange is Secretary General of the outgoing National Youth Executive Committee. The Masunga born youngster is the oldest of the contestants, he portrays himself as the most experienced amongst the runners. Speaking to WeekendPost this week Mavange said amongst other things why young democrats must promote him to the committee chairmanship position is that as the General Secretary, he managed with his committee to convince party leadership to increase number of youth specially elected councillors from 23 to 43.
He added that the increase saw a number of BDP youngsters even elevating to Council Chairpersons. Mavange also argued that having successfully served as the deputy chairman of Botswana National Youth Council at some point leading the BDP youth won’t be a difficult job for him.
“I am the most experienced candidate and having served for the past two terms in the National Youth Executive Committee, and having influenced numerous positive changes it is ideal that young democrats elect me as their chairman,” he said. According to Mavange people who are elected into party structures must be put through workshops and oriented to be familiarized with party regulations, ethics and traditions.
“Currently we have a problem, people holding party leadership positions from ward level, constituency, regional and even national executive positions lack the capacity to carry out their mandates,” he said. He intends to put in place regular capacity building undertakings to empower young people and other leaders about party programs as well as government policies, should he win.
Notha is a former University of Botswana student Politician, currently serving as a specially elected councillor at Sowatown and a member of BDP national communications committee. As a very close ally to the corporate sector, he says citizen engagement will be his main focus as NYEC chair.
The philanthropist and social justice advocate who commands much respect amongst Serowe youth; particularly for his Vuyo Cup football and netball tournament says his leadership will be encored on engaging the people he serves. “We want to bring the corporate sector, spiritual and social leaders, and young people from the sports fraternity and entertainment industries to come onboard and revive the BDP vibe catering for all kinds of youngsters,” he said.
He further added that BDP as a national organization needs to appeal to all stakeholders of the economy and social development towards the empowerment of Batswana. “Trade unions, NGO’s and Non -State actors, business people, corporate Parastatals and the youth as the largest age group of our workforce need to take the front seat in crafting national policies and empowerment programs.” “Currently there are no platforms to engage youth and make them have a say in underwriting their own empowerment programs,” he observed.
A BDP foot soldier, Segwai is of the view that leadership is about representation and not positions. “I believe such a position is a position of representation not leadership, I do not become an aspirant because I want to, I become an aspirant because people and the youth are more than willing to work with me,” he remarked.
According to Segwai unemployment is a very critical matter, though he was economical with information about this campaign and candidature Segwai said the possibility of him merging with other teams cannot be thrown out. “I can’t disclose much on it now, I reassure You, I shall invite your publication to our team manifesto official launch soon, that is when I and my team will share much on it, it is not an individual affair, it requires brilliant minds to deal with, and I am certain my team has those minds,” he explained. “It is really not about me, but youth of the BDP in extension of Botswana. It is a necessity for us to protect the legacy of our forefathers, this nation and to do so BDP has to remain in power. I will share much on this one also at the lobby press conference.”
Bobirwa MP Shaw Kgathi’s son, Ronald has a vision for BDP youth and the Botswana youth at large. “My track record in the corporate sector and experience in business will complement my political energy to 1. Fundraise for the committee and promote accountability, integrity and delivery 2.Advocate for youth representation in leadership positions. 3. Revive youth committees across all the 14 regions 4. Fraternal relations and unlock business opportunities for youth 5. Recruitment and political education targeted at Senior & all tertiary institutions of higher learning,” said Kgathi
According to him, talks with other teams to reach a consensus towards forming a formidable National Youth Executive Committee are ongoing.” I cannot rule out the possibility of merging with other teams, we are still in talks and hopefully we will agree.”
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.