The ongoing opposition talks are far from over, but there are certain elements of the discussion that are not contestable or have been agreed upon at the moment.
With an all inclusive name of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC+) having been adopted, the criteria for constituency allocation has made it easy for partners to spread constituencies evenly safe for two being Lentsweletau-Mmopane and Lerala-Maunatlala. However, the adopted criterion presents a dilemma for one of the negotiating partners, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
Before his shock loss to the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD)’s Dr Phenyo Butale in the 2014 general election, BCP president, Dumelang Saleshando had represented Gaborone Central as Member of Parliament for two terms – 2004-2009 and 2009 – 2014. Now he finds himself without a constituency.
The BCP is said to have decided to demonstrate commitment to the talks by not contesting or putting pressure on other partners to secure at least one constituency in Gaborone for its president – something that they had wanted. Insiders point out that the BCP knew from the onset that the criteria will not favour them in Gaborone constituencies where they were convincingly vanquished in the 2014 general election. “But we had assumed that Dumelang Saleshando as President of the negotiating partner could be given a special treatment and negotiate a package for him in Gaborone, but it was never to be,” said an insider.
Indications are that the BCP had also tried to lobby for Gaborone South which is currently under the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), but they lost out because the Botswana National Front (BNF) had come out second best in that constituency in the 2014 general election. The criteria is very clear, negotiating teams consider incumbency – which favours the BMD of the UDC+ in Gaborone Central; and second best performing party – which favours the BNF of the UDC+ in Gaborone South.
“As the BCP, we are not going to allow this to distract us from the main goal, that is opposition unity because that is the only way we can wrestle power from the ruling BDP,” said a BCP insider. The BCP is currently searching for a constituency for Dumelang Saleshando. This publication gathers that it is going to be a long process because it will involve reaching a compromise with party members who have been contesting in the constituency to be identified. “We are determined to make sure that our President goes to Parliament,” the BCP elder said.
Weekend Post has been informed that the BCP fears are also grounded on the fact that a Vice President of the country must have a constituency according to the constitution. Although the BMD is opposed to the BCP being given the Vice Presidency, the BCP is said to be fighting tooth and nail to ensure that Saleshando gets a constituency and wins it in 2019.
It is understood that Selibe Phikwe East, which is currently held by Nonofo Molefhi of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) appears to be the most likely constituency that will welcome Saleshando. BCP came second in the 2014 general election through Kgoberego Nkawana who polled 3134 votes to BDP’s 3376. The UDC attracted 979 votes through Dimpho Mashaba while an Independent candidate, Oarabile Tshenyego was voted by 818 people. Selibe Phikwe East is one of the 17 constituencies that the BCP hopes to clinch based on the agreed criteria of the ongoing negotiating teams.
Saleshando is not a stranger to Selibe Phikwe because his family is domiciled in the mining town and he grew up there. The ongoing challenges facing Seilbe Phikwe also present a fertile campaign platform for the opposition to denounce the ruling party and its representatives. This week at a Panel Discussion organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) at Masa Centre, BCP deputy leader responsible for policy, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang told the audience that “we are in a situation of urgency, something must be done to wrestle the BDP out of power, the urgency we are talking about supersedes any other factors.
We made a mistake by not being part of the Umbrella in the 2014 general election,” he said. While he pointed out directly that his party had more solid policy positions and a well structured manifesto, the UDC appealed more to the emotions of the voters. “It was not much about the mind in 2014, it was about the heart. In 2019, it should be about the mind and the heart,” he said.
The only two constituencies that are currently on the table for further negotiations is Lentsweletau-Mmopane and Lerala-Maunatlala. The BCP wants Lentsweletau-Mmopane because they came out second best to the BDP. Phagenyana Phage was voted by 3150 people against Vincent Seretse’s 7170 votes. Moeng Pheto, an independent candidate than attracted 3120 votes while the UDC got 2999 voters.
The BMD also wants a cut because their recruit who came after contesting the general election as an independent, Moeng Pheto got good numbers. Another independent candidate from the 2014 general election in the Lerala-Maunatlala constituency, Setlhabelo Modukanele, has since joined the BMD and he had 4115 votes against Prince Maele’s 6356 votes. The BMD’s argument of second best performing is being questioned by other partners. The BCP represented by Montwedi Mokhurutshe was voted by 1147.
Weekend Post is informed that the BCP is concerned that factors are conspiring against their president – first the Vice Presidency is hotly contested; and then he has no chance to stand for elections in the capital city.
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.