Morupisi says petition is un-procedural, unnecessary
In an unprecedented turn-of-events, the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi has this week threatened Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) staff members who recently petitioned Minister of Agriculture (MoA), Patrick Pule Ralotsia, over the appointment of university’s acting vice chancellor.
WeekendPost has it on good authority that Mr Morupisi summoned the petitioners in what he termed an “emergency meeting” to Office of the President on Monday this week to call them to “order.”
The trio Dr. Nelson Tselaesele, Dr. Mogadime Rammolai and Mr Maano Dibeela were assigned to hand over the petition to MoA on behalf of BUAN staff members. The petition was necessitated by Ralotsia’s recent appointing of Dr Mataba Tapela to act as BUAN VC with effect from 1st August 2016 until 31st January 2017.
In the petition the staff members strived to register their concern about repeated reinstatements of Dr Tapela despite “his lack of leadership skills.”
However,the PSP is said to have questioned the BUAN petition and condemned why it was initiated in the first place.
“Actually he said if we were handing the petition to him he could have trashed it out rightly as it was disrespectful in a way,” a source who was present at the meeting revealed.
The emergency meeting was also graced by Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Boipelo Khumomatlhare as well as Ministry’s legal Counsel.
According to the sources, what was of particular concern to the petitioners was the notion by PSP that he had called them to “warn” them about their “behaviour” in relation to the prompting of the petition.
“If it was me receiving this, I could have teared it apart,” Morupisi is reported to have stressed at the meeting.
He is said to have also cautioned against making an ultimatum to the Minister. In the petition, Ralotsia was allotted 14 days to have responded, failing which the staff members threatened to boycott the long awaited launch of BUAN, the former Botswana College of Agriculture which is now a transformed fully fledged university.
“You know we were so baffled by the PSP’s reaction towards the petition honestly because we believe that it is our fundamental constitutional right; we are free to petition authorities on any subject matter of our concern at any day we wish,” one source pointed out to this publication.
In a more revealing way, the PSP is said to have stated that the appointment of substantive Vice Chancellor who will replace Dr Tapela might take 2 years or so and they should just remain calm until then.
Approached for a comment the, PSP confirmed that indeed such meeting transpired where he called some BUAN petitioners to OP in a mission to ‘condemn’ them for trying to precipitately hand the petition to the Minister.
“Yes it is true I had called them to my office so that I assist them with the procedure that they should follow instead,” Morupisi highlighted to this publication in an interview.
According to the PSP, he had wanted them to first seek audience with the acting Vice Chancellor Dr. Mataba Tapela and discuss with him their issues and concerns before they reach even the minister. If they are not satisfied at that point, that is when they could have made an arrangement for an appointment with minister Ralotsia.
Morupisi asked rhetorically, “why should they petition a minister while he has not refused to meet with them? You see they never attempted! They must first make appointment with the minister.”
“Mind you we are talking about lecturers here who are mature and expected to be responsible and exemplary to students. They should not behave like school boys,” the PSP pointed out.
From his judgement Morupisi emphasised that the petition is un-procedural, and it is unnecessary as he believes they should engage the minister in a more structural way.
In the petition the BUAN staff members have requested that the appointment of the Dr Tapela be reversed and another qualified staff member be appointed to act on the period of 1st August 2016 to 30th January 2017.
In the petition, the staff members demanded response from Ralotsia within 14 days failure of which they threatened to boycott the launch of the university. Nonetheless, 14 days have now elapsed and there is no official response to the petition lest for intimidation they encountered at the highest office in the land.
At the time of going to print, it was unclear what the staff members’ cause of action would be.
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.