Political factions that used to cause ripples in the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) have subsided their activities and closed ranks to guard against Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi’s now frequent incursions.
Up until three months back BMD was split up by two warring factions; one under the control of party President, Ndaba Gaolathe and his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi, while the other centre of power was helmed by party chairman, Nehemiah Modubule and secretary general, Gilbert Mangole. Some insiders say this could just be a temporary truce to deal with Masisi recruitment within the BMD.
Gaolathe and Mmolotsi mostly had the backing of BMD parliamentarians while the Mangole and Modubule axis generally had the backing of the large BMD central committee. Gaolathe and his team wanted a special congress this year, and it is evident that it will not happen. Some say but of the deal, allegedly brokered by former conveners of opposition talks was to call off the debate on the special congress.
In August the BMD National Executive Committee (NEC) dismissed calls for a special congress arguing that proper process was not followed in the request. Modubule was quoted in the media as stating that the letters written to trigger the special congress were questionable and that there were not accompanied by minutes from the constituencies.
However, on Thursday Mmolotsi and Mangole held a joint press briefing in a rare public show of unity not seen in well over 12 months. The two leaders conceded that the factionalism that used to rile BMD might actually be a contributing factor to the mass exodus of youths currently rocking BMD. Mangole, who is also Member of Parliament for Mochudi East further noted that reconciliation is a step by step process that takes time. For the entire duration, Mangole kept referring to Mmolotsi as “my VP.”
He however stated that while they have their own differences, the calm that has been reigning in the party lately is testament to the thawing of relations between the two factions. Since last year BMD has been losing its regional youth leaders and ordinary members to the BDP as a result of Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi’s spirited recruitment campaign from the opposition parties. Most of the defectors have been coming from the two Molepolole constituencies which fell into opposition hands for the first time in 50 years, in the 2014 general election.
In the ensuing frenzy, BMD lost youth wing leaders such as former treasurer general, Anderson Mathibe and his deputy as well as its National Organising Secretary, Gomotsegang Karabo. The now infamous Karabo, who is an orator of note, was this week implicated as the mastermind of botched recruitment activities of BMD’s two councillors and two Francistown youths who hold party positions in their region. The four BMD youth leaders who somersaulted at the last minute related that, in the heavily moneyed recruitment drive that spanned Molepolole, Phakalane and the Junior State House to Francistown, money was no object.
They related that their meetings with Masisi and his men either took place in hotels, restaurants or his state residence where they gobbled down grilled chicken and ordered to pick anything off the menu. They further stated that when they parted, sometimes in the small hours of the morning after a night of negotiations, they would each be gifted either P300 or P400. Omphemetse Demana from Francistown stated that she was told “not to walk in the sun” and transport was duly arranged for her, in the form of a big double door bakkie to meet Masisi at Marang hotel in Francistown.
She was further wired transport money via e-Wallet service to come to the capital to be welcomed into the party. The Francistown duo stated that they were on the brink of being whisked to the mall where they were to be dressed in red party colours at expensive stores, for last week’s BDP press conference, when Mangole intercepted their exit.
Mangole however stated of Masisi’s BDP: “The factional wars within the BDP are so intense that the faction leaders do not trust fellow party members. They would rather entrust their campaigns with activists recruited from the opposition. The BMD is particularly the target because BDP warring faction leaders apparently all agree that with the BDP split, hardworking cadres relocated to the BMD and they desperately need them back to fight their factional wars. The now lavishly living Karabo is actively recruiting for the Vice President’s faction.”
Mangole further stated that a plot to “annihilate and dismantle BMD is in place as it is believed to have played and continues to play a pivotal role in the opposition collective”.
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.