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Mswati, SADC secretariat tilt towards Kikwete?

Swaziland and Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) secretariat’s invitation of former Tanzanian President, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete to the SADC 36th Summit public lecture has birthed speculation of electoral prejudice.

Kikwete is reportedly one of the hopefuls for the position of Chair of African Union Commission.

On Tuesday Kikwete was guest speaker at a SADC public lecture in Mbabane, Swaziland in the presence of a Swazi Prince, SADC Executive Secretariat, Dr Stergomena Lawrence-Tax and Prime Minister, Sibusiso Dlamini, among other bigwigs.

The lecture was organized in collaboration between SADC, Swaziland and University of Swaziland (UNISWA).

Kikwete is also former Chairman of African Union and has been increasingly touted in east African media as a prime candidate for the AU chair when the continental body goes for the election in January 2017.

Elections for the AU Commission chair were postponed after a clear winner failed to emerge in June in Kigali, Rwanda. Botswana’s Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi collected 23 votes instead of the required 35 with 28 member states abstaining.

Venson-Moitoi was running against former Ugandan Vice President Dr. Specioza Kazibwe and the Equatorial Guinean Foreign Affairs Minister Agapito Mokuy and both of them were out rightly shunned as representatives from rogue states.

The high abstinence at Kigali was said to be a show of no confidence in the trio of aspirants. African states argued that voting in Venson-Moitoi will be tantamount to rewarding Botswana with AU topmost post while the country’s president has never made any attempts to attend its summits. Further, they argued that voting for Mokuy and Kazibwe will be the same as giving continental autocracies thumbs up.

Venson-Moitoi was recently endorsed by a meeting of the region’s foreign affairs ministers in Maputo, Mozambique and is currently only awaiting an endorsement by regional heads of state at the Swaziland summit.

Swaziland Prime Minister, Sibusiso Dlamini stated that King Mswati expresses appreciation to Kikwete for accepting the invitation to speak at the lecture. The lecture takes place in the build up to each SADC summit every year.

Dr Tax paid also homage to Kikwete stating, “he is a very distinguished person who is highly effective in many aspects including international diplomacy.”

Still in the merry-go-round of toadying, Kikwete also repaid the appreciation to Mswati for inviting him to speak at the lecture and extended the same to Lawrence-Tax and UNISWA Vice Chancellor, Professor Cisco Magagula.

Kikwete speech also interestingly hinged heavily on a Pan-Africanist topic of regional integration. He stated that the SADC region needs to give due attention to deepening economic integration as it will strengthen the overall initiatives of SADC.

He further stated that in his view, upscaling regional integration in SADC is about increasing the pace of implementing the stages of integration.

“Let me emphasize that regional integration is desirable and we cannot walk away from it,” stated Kikwete.

Meanwhile Venson-Moitoi is scheduled to leave for Swaziland where she will seek a heads of state endorsement as the region’s candidate for the January run off.She is expected back in Botswana on Wednesday nextweek.

If indeed he intends to run, Kikwete will be a tough candidate against other candidates as he has the necessary continental stature and less flak to impress cynical member states. The former president is also a former chairman of the SADC troika of peace, defense and security from 2012 and 2013.

Enquiries left with the Swazi and Tanzanian consulates were not immediately returned.

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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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