UDC Presidents: Ndaba Gaolathe of BMD and Duma Boko of BNF
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) top leadership had qualms with the involvement of Sidney Pilane in the investigations which ensued after the death of Gomolemo Motswaledi, Weekend Post has established.
According to a high ranking Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) official, UDC president Duma Boko and the then Head of Policy and Research Ndaba Gaolathe were not comfortable with an outsider being involved in the delicate matter and had secretly arranged for their own pathologist.
“Boko and Ndaba wanted a different pathologist to carry out the post-mortem concurrently with the one brought on board by Pilane, unfortunately he could not arrive on time for the exercise,” said the source.
It is understood that Reggie Perumal, a South African based pathologist was brought on board by Sidney Pilane abetted by BMD Chairman Nehemiah Modubule.
Perumal was also housed by Pilane with the costs associated with the exercise being fully sponsored by the former party spokesperson.
Weekend Post was further informed that prior to his death, Motswaledi had informed those close to him about a plan hatched to oust him at the next congress.
Motswaledi was successfully re-elected for the second time as BMD leader at the 2013 Maun Congress, where majority of his National Executive Committee (NEC) were re elected.
“Before Motswaledi perished, they were planning to topple him in Gantsi. We knew about it in advance and he [Motswaledi] talked about it,” said the source.
At the Gantsi Congress held last year July, a number of NEC members who were associated with Motswaledi were toppled. Key among those who lost seats is Gabriel Masie who served as party National Organising Secretary and Campaign Manager for Motswaledi’s Gaborone Central 2014 parliamentary bid.
Also among those who lost their positions was Sennye Kono, who was replaced by Tseleng Botlhole as party Deputy Secretary General. Gaolathe and Wynter Mmolotsi were not challenged for the position of president and vice president respectively.
The aftermath of the Gantsi Congress saw the party emerging divided by factions, one vying for incumbent party president and one vying for Pilane.
Earlier this year, BMD president, Gaolathe had said that the process which was adopted to grant Pilane membership was unconstitutional since his earlier application at Gaborone North was rejected. Pilane would later be granted membership at Mochudi West branch after being aided by party secretary general, Gilbert Mangole to do so.
Modubule and Gilbert Mangole emerged as the strongest Pilane supporters within the BMD, both of them declaring that his admission back into the party was procedural.
With the party factions defying each other, impeccable sources have indicated that the party may consider calling for a Special Congress, where delegates will vote for a new National Executive Committee.
The party is also in the process of holding its Women’s League congress in May. It is understood that the Pilane faction has a tight grip on things and his team is likely to emerge victorious.
Meanwhile Gaolathe’s team is confident that calling for a special congress remains the only feasible way for the party to function normally.
The battle within the party is now for the lobbying for support within the party structures. The party branches form part of delegates who will be voting at the coming elective congress or the special congress if party structures cause it to be called.
Meanwhile, the party has managed to hold its first branch congress at Gaborone Central which is fully behind the incumbent president of the party.
Contacted for comment, BMD chairman, Modubule said “what I know is that it was a consensus decision to for Reggie Perumal to be engaged.” He further said Pilane decision to pay for the costs was based on the understanding that the UDC had asked for financial assistance on the matter.
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.