Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) President, Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama has embarked on a mission to restore the party’s attractiveness before he retires from the presidency in 2018.
Khama is worried that his once indomitable party will possibly lose office come 2019. The poor performance in the 2014 general elections and the subsequent by-elections losses have given Khama more reasons to worry about the party.
Since August 2015, according to party Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane, the president has been engaged in a series of mobilisation activities across the country. The activities include meetings with the Central Committee, regional tours, branch visits and other team building functions.
“So far President Khama has chaired over 39 BDP activities in a period of ten months. On Sunday he was part of the Central Committee Retreat and yesterday he chaired Central Committee meeting,” he said.
Speaking during a press conference in Gaborone this week, Ntuane further said that Khama was expected yesterday (Friday) to have led a team building activity in Mahalapye for all BDP Councillors and MPs at which he expected all 41 MPs and 430 councillors of the BDP to be in attendance.
Khama is also expected to address the Gaborone Region today (Saturday), which will mark his 41st event since August last year.
“The BDP means business as evidenced by these activities and many others,” said Ntuane.
Khama took over the reins as party and state president in 2008 from Festus Mogae, with the BDP having garnered a 50.6 percent popular vote and 44 parliamentary seats in the 2004 general elections. Khama then led BDP to an increased 52.3 percent popular vote in the 2009 general elections, taking advantage of the disarray in opposition Botswana National Front (BNF). BDP also increased parliamentary seats to 45.
However, a few months after the general elections, BDP split, resulting in the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) in May 2010. The formation of BMD was subsequent to squabbles in the party central committee, which had resulted in then party Secretary General, the now late Gomolemo Motswaledi being suspended from the party and as party parliamentary candidate for Gaborone Central.
The split, coupled with the 2011 public servant Industrial strike and formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) saw Khama leading BDP to its worst electoral performance since independence, with the party garnering 46.7 percent of the popular vote in the 2014 general elections, and saw then combined opposition increasing its presence to an unprecedented 20 seats in parliament.
“President Khama is on a mission to revitalise and mobilise the party structures at all levels in every single constituency and ward in the country,” Ntuane later told Weekend Post.
“This is a marathon assignment and is set to go on. He is positioning the party well in advance to retain government in 2019.”
By the time BDP meets for the 2017 Elective Congress, it would have already met in two special congresses in between party ordinary congresses. Following the 2015 Mmadinare Congress, where a new central committee was elected, BDP convened a special congress which was held at Limkokwing University in Gaborone. It was at this special congress that President Khama announced the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP).
The 2017 BDP Congress will be President Khama’s last as party leader, therefore he is hastening to use the time between now and then to fix BDP and position it, in a way to preserve his legacy.
This year, BDP will also converge for another special congress where particular attention will be on government business and necessarily intervention by the party. Party delegates will also be updated on the political and electoral reforms by the Public Education and Elections Committee (PEEC). The PEEC, chaired by party stalwart Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri was mandated with exploring the possibility of re-looking at political and electoral reforms by the Central Committee which was one of the resolutions of the Mmadinare Congress .
Some of the initiatives brought by Khama include appointing BDP MPs to look after constituencies which were won by opposition in the last general elections. The idea behind the initiative was to establish party presence in those constituencies so that BDP members and structures remain informed about parliamentary business.
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.