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Gov’t accused of side-lining the Church

Government was this week accused of overlooking the church, especially, the Botswana Council of Churches when soliciting views on revitalisation strategies for the Selibe Phikwe area following the closure of the BCL mine.


Different Council leaders revealed at the just ended 3 days 4th Alternative Mining Forum held in Selebi Phikwe recently that BCL closure directly affected them as the social custodians of the human race. Rev Gabriel S Tsuaneng, Vice President of the Botswana Council of Churches observed that minerals are a gift from GOD and the church must play the role of a watchdog to ensure proper mineral exploration and mining which benefits God’s people.

 

Tsuaneng also noted that as the church, they think and have the acumen to influence policy crafting which consequently affects their members who actually form the population of Botswana. “We challenge the government to provide space for engagement with the people and the church,” he said.


“We only learnt through the media that BCL was closed and that government planned some form of counselling for the affected persons, you see there is one form of counselling to a human soul that doesn’t need experts and theoretical classroom guidance, but can only be addressed by pastoral divine filled counselling and that’s where we come in as the church,” he explained.


According to the outspoken Reverend, his organisation continues to hear about Phikwe revitalization strategies through media publications, “The corridors of powers did nothing to bring us on board as spiritual leaders in order to inject  hope and invite divine guidance to this significantly huge endeavour of reviving thousands of demoralized and demotivated souls,’’ he indicated.


According to him, an undertaking such as unearthing thousands jobs needs sharp minds and divine cultivation and spiritual engagement at national decision making level in order to output any tangible results. He however assured participants that they as the church and BCC are not politically motivated, “If we keep quite people say we are fine with the status quo and thus we are BDP and when we speak they confuse us for opposition affiliation.

 

No, we are the church of the people of God and we will not allow uninformed media reporting and political parties to set the agenda for us, but rather we are the social justice custodians and we will be the ones who set and define agenda for the politicians and decision making echelons.’’
For his part, Mayor of Selebi Phikwe, His Worship Amogelang Mojuta, observed that BCL closure should go a long way in teaching both Phikwe residents and Batswana in general a lesson.

 

Mojuta noted that prior to BCL’s demise his town was “the place to be” where all the ungodly deeds occurred that which translated to even high rates of HIV prevalence in his town. “Apart from teaching us that minerals will be depleted one day, this situation should teach us that first and foremost we need to lead a godly life and teach our children such values,’’ he said.  According to the Mayor, BCL employees earned big money, and still neglected their parents, property investment and savings.


When presenting the findings of a documented two weeks study undertaken to independently assess the Socio-economic impacts of BCL closure, investigations coordinator, Boitumelo Kopana revealed that the impacts are severe that it’s actually purported. “According to our findings, people literally have nowhere to go after vacating BCL houses, people do not have any form of savings and monetary investment and majority of the people are actually emotionally crushed by his situation,’’ she observed.


The study which was conducted by a Botswana Council of Churches for a period of two weeks reveals that there is currently flooding of transfer applications at government schools in greater Phikwe settlements, further more it observes an influx in requests for ploughing incentives like free seeds at villages around Phikwe.


“In Sefhophe alone we have recorded over 60 incoming  transfer requests  since the BCL closure, and over 100 extra requests for agricultural  incentives , thus our greater Phikwe  areas are feeling the pinch more than most people perceive,” explained a member from the investigation team.
The BCC revealed they will engage the government in this matter and present the findings of their study to cabinet at a policy forum they expect to host at the government enclave next week.


“We have a policy forum with the government scheduled for next week, we hope to advance our case there and engage the decision makers further on national issues,” BCC General Secretary Reverend Simane told WeekendPost in an interview. The 4th Alternative Mining Forum was held in Selibi Phikwe from November 28th– 30th November 2016 under the theme: “Making Natural Resources work for the people –ensuring that no one is left behind,” facilitated by Botswana Council of churches in Partnership with Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations resourced by Norwegian Church Aid. The forum engaged Civil Society and faith based communities in Botswana with particular focus on Selibi Phikwe and surrounding villages for Advocacy and policy Engagement with relation to the closure of BCL Mine and related issues.

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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
Khato-civil

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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