Opposition Chief Whip Wynter Mmolotsi has accused Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe of pursuing destruction of parliament’s opposition bloc, as a prelude to passing controversial bills unopposed.
Mmolotsi said that when the current session of parliament started two weeks ago, Kokorwe warned opposition Members of Parliament (MP’s)that there is a new Standing Order that she will not hesitate to use on them.
According to Mmolotsi, Kokorwe was referring to Standing Order 60.4 which has never been used in recent memory but has thus far been trialled through the expulsion of BCP MP for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse as well as MP for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa last week.
Nkaigwa and Keorapetse were suspended for a period of a week from parliament while Molepolole North MP Mahomed Khan was also threatened with expulsion. Kokorwe stated on the 4th of July that while she had been patient in the previous session of parliament which ended unceremoniously this time around she was going to apply the parliamentary standing orders to rein in wayward MPs.
“We all know that there is an end to everything, so is my patience. I’m going to use Standing Order 60 more often, more especially 60.4 which is very clear,” said Kokorwe.
Standing Order 60.4 states that, “Whenever any member has been do named, the offence was committed by such Member in the Assembly, the speaker shall call upon any of the Whips and that Member be suspended form services of the national assembly. The speaker shall put the question on such motion forthwith, no motion, amendment or debate being allowed. BDP chief whip Liakat Kablay would then rubberstamp Kokorwe’s motion.
The following Standing Order 60.5 further states that if any member is suspended from under this Standing Order, his or her suspension on the first occasion in any session shall continue for one (1) week.”
In the ensuing kerfuffle, Kokorwe supported by Kablay also suspended Keorapetse.
Mmolotsi speculated that the use of Standing Order 60.4 is an intention to destruct the opposition bloc in parliament through expulsions in order to pass the controversial Presidents (Gratuity, Pensions and Retirement Benefits) as well as the Ministerial Offices bill.
He further said that any level headed MP will not support the current bill conferring rewards on retiring presidents.
The proposed bill allows for a retiring president to cash in a housing allowance instead of having a presidential palace constructed for him. It also gives a retiring president liberty to have his office outside of Gaborone and further gives him a gratuity equal to 30 per cent of his or current monthly basic salary, multiplied by the number of months served as President.
It further provides that any person who has been President shall, immediately upon ceasing to hold office as such be entitled to receive a tax free monthly pension equivalent to the monthly basic salary attached to the office of President the time that he or she ceases to hold office, or 80 percent of the incumbent President’s salary, whichever is greater.
The opposition chief whip further reiterated that the murmured creation of extra two ministries will lead to a mindless spending spree that will put a strain on the government purse.
The bill intends to increase the number of ministers from 16 to 18 and the number of assistant ministers from 8 to 10.
He further said that the Specially Elected Member of Parliament policy that was first introduced to address a skills shortage in the formative years of the republic, no longer serves its original purpose because back in the day; few Batswana had received advanced education.
He said that it baffles them that specially elected MPs can be increased at a time when the public service system continues to chuck out around 4000 workers on government’s early exit policy.
Mmolotsi said that, as opposition they believe that the entire specially elected system should be scrapped off as well as the current 4 specially elected MPs as they are of no use to parliament.
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.