Members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi have passed a constitutional amendment by cabinet to increase specially elected legislators, ministers and Assistant ministers.
Following a flammable debate in the proposed constitutional amendment to increase the said threshold of nominated legislators from 4 to 6, the house agreed to pass the amendments.
The voting exercise saw 16 giving the move a thumbs up while 14 voted against it. Some also queried the model of voting which is not secret citing intimidation by authorities who oversee dikgosi.
There is wide belief that some of the dikgosi may have been feeling intimidated with the presence of Minister of Local Government and Rural Government, Botlogile Tshireletso as well as Assistant Minister in the Office of the President, Phillip Makgalemele.
However according to the Chairman of Ntlo ya dikgosi, Kgosi Puso Gaborone of Tlokweng the voting exercise went well though it was not through secret ballot. He said it has been their tradition as the law allows for such arrangement.
Conversely, Kgosi Thabo Maruje said the way they debate and vote in Ntlo ya Dikgosi leaves a lot to be desired.
“We believe that voting should be secret because some don’t have the confidence and rather fear that if they vote in a certain way it might affect them somehow negatively going forward.”
The Minister of local Government and Rural development has the power to de-recognise a kgosi.
Meanwhile, in the amendment debate in the house to increase legislators Maruje set the context to say that politically, Botswana is going through a transitional process. He said the political competition has become very tight and competitive and he therefore does not support the Bill in the political context.
He also maintained that the minister should say what impact it is going to bring in terms of value chain desired and cost implications, and also how it will increase democracy.
He observed that government through the World Bank has advised Botswana government to decrease public service but at the same time it wants to increase the burden by 2 more specially elected legislators.
He was also concerned that almost 98% of Bills passed at parliament do not go through proper consultation particularly at the kgotla.
“We need to seriously introspect, we can’t increase MP’s, time will come, we have just come to the end of vision 2016, which is also our golden jubilee of 50 years of independence so let us not pre-empt what is coming.”
According to Kgosi Sekgoma Moipolai of North East region the increase of SEMP may lead to erosion of our core values of democracy. “It may be used to apply desired interest of those applying it and therefore affecting the essence of democracy,” he claimed.
He added that at least the government should be thinking of increasing constituencies as they will be increasing representation of the people. “I have a fear that instead of strengthening democracy they are weakening it. Therefore I am unable to support it.”
Kgosi Tshipe Tshipe of Mahalapye region who supported the amendments said he agrees with the Bill but cautioned that it should be done and executed as the reasons it was designed for.
On the other hand Kgosi Moeti Monyamane of Kgalagadi North sustained that what Batswana are asking for is a thorough constitutional review so it is what he calls for as well and therefore “I cannot agree with the Bill”.
He asked where the money will be coming from to pay the 2 SEMP and highlighted that where there is no political will government likes to use the phrase “when funds permit” but seems it is not using it this time as they are determined to pass the Bill no matter what.
Another Ntlo Ya Dikgosi member Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of Tswapong opposed the Bill citing that they are not convinced by reasons given by government to increase numbers as all “skills and expertise” are there in parliament, like Judges, lawyers, teachers, economists etc.
He said if anything the minister could be coming with a Bill to “abolish” the SEMP altogether. He said as Ntlo Ya Dikgosi they are mere advisors to government as it appears the government has already decided to pass the Bill.
“Taking into consideration that public servants salaries were not increased because there is no money, so now why increase SEMP as there will be financial implications or burden as well?” he rhetorically asked.
Bakwena paramount chief, Kgosi Kgari Sechele urged government to bring trust to the people by doing as they say. “We should see those skills and expertise that is deficient in parliament and society should see as such. If it doesn’t happen, we will use it to gauge if we continue to vote for them.”
When presenting the Bill at Ntlo Ya Dikgosi Assistant Minister in the Office of the President, Phillip Makgalemele stated that the economy of Botswana continues to grow in size and complexity.
“Therefore, the increase in number of specially elected members will provide a window of opportunity for the National Assembly, and by extension cabinet, to increase the number of members with the necessary expertise and skills to manage a modern and complex economy.”
He also said over the years, the constitution has been amended to increase the number of elected legislators and the number has started at 1 specially elected MP.
Some of the notable politicians who have benefitted from the special nomination dispensation include former presidents, Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae. The first woman to enter parliament, Gaositwe Chiepe was also specially elected.
According to Makgalemele, ministers have a burden and it may hurt the economy and thus the need to increase SEMP, but he reiterated government employment freeze will continue.
He asserted that the intentions of the Bill are good and government remains open minded.
WeekendPost has it on good authority that the constitutional amendment Bill was hatched by the Shoshong legislator who then convinced his colleagues at a ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary caucus towards the close of last year and they gave the move thumbs up.
The Bill was later published on the government gazette dated 5 February 2016 by Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Eric Molale.
The Bill is expected to pass into amended law without any hinges as the ruling BDP which banks on its majority in parliament looks determined. Already few names have been dropped for possible special nomination dispensation including BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane and maverick ex-legislator, Robert Masitara amongst others.
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.