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MP wants consultation on UDC+

An opposition Member of Parliament (MP) has decried lack of consultation on the ongoing talks and the outcome thereof between Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) which will give birth to the UDC+.

The UDC MP, Sedirwa Kgoroba, representing Mogoditshane constituency said although he believes in opposition cooperation, he believes there should be thorough consultation and caution. “I believe in cooperation with others, but it does not mean that things should be done without our knowledge. Ideally we should be taken on board but we are not,” the controversial Mogoditshane MP told Weekend Post on Wednesday.

He added that “as Honourable MP’s we deserve honour and respect to be briefed about the talks and what has been agreed there before the message is taken to the public.” Kgoroba expressed the sentiments following the postponement of a planned press conference which was to announce the UDC and BCP marriage ahead of the 2019 general election.

Weekend Post has established that the press conference was aimed at sharing with the public the outcome of the UDC, BCP talks as well as what was agreed. It was also said to announce the new political formation the UDC+. Kgoroba, who is affiliated to the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) partner of the UDC said he was not aware of the press conference and even its agenda which he said was unfortunate. “As an MP, if the press conference is called which I am not aware of then that is not the proper procedure under normal circumstances.”

Kgoroba said he had called his BMD president who doubles as UDC Secretary General to inquire on the talks and the then impending presser but was also blank about the development. He added that if the UDC SG is not aware of crucial information like planned press conferences then he suspects that “maybe some may be trying to sideline them” in the movement.

He explained the move may be dangerous and that his worry has nothing to do with the anticipated new formation of UDC+ which he added that he is in supportive of but only query lack of basic procedure of “consultation.” When reached for a comment, BCP Publicity Secretary Dithapelo Keorapetse confirmed that indeed the press conference was scheduled to take place but unfortunately did not. He said the postponement was necessitated by the just ended by elections which have strained them, and presidents’ busy schedule as well as issues that cannot be disclosed.

He conceded the animosity within parties in the negotiation table while quick to pointing out that “people at the negotiations cannot agree all the time.” Keorapetse highlighted that those people who are anti-UDC+ and spreading rumours citing that there is BCP, BMD fall out will fail. As BCP, he said they have had a cordial relationship with the BMD and that Ndaba Gaolathe always attend their activities. His counterpart at UDC, Publicity Secretary at UDC, Moeti Mohwasa said he is also not aware of any animosity between BCP and BMD.

He added that the focus is on UDC+. Mohwasa also explained that the press conference did not take place as negotiations reports were sent to presidents who were supposed to consult members extensively, and it was anticipated that by Monday they would have done.
“So that’s was not achieved so we postponed.”

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

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.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020

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.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

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.

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