One time Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman and current Tati West legislator Samson Guma Moyo has made an emphatic plea to Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo advising the slashing and consolidation of loss-making parastatals to arrest the careening budget deficit.
Moyo said the country should not keep an imprudent system of pumping money year in and year out into unsuccessful state funded entities including Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), Botswana Railways, Air Botswana, National Development Bank (NDB) and Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) among others, consequently throwing the country into a self-created budget deficit.
He also said that of the 42 state funded parastatals, a majority of them are not giving government any value and steps must be taken to cut unnecessary state expenditure highlighting Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) which he says has minimal impact in the economy but gobbles and hoards government funds.
Moyo advised Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo to provide strategic thinking, employ a bold attitude and to tighten up even if making unpopular decisions makes him equally unpopular adding that government can only be the catalyst for change.
Moyo said that the combined weight of most of the country’s 42 government aided parastatals unnecessarily contribute to the country’s budget deficit.
He continued to say that the government funds are tied to assets and the country’s balance sheet cannot construct infrastructure such as railways urging it to look to the private sector.
The ostensibly emphatic Moyo, added that building an economy takes years while destroying it could take two days.
Speaking on the sidelines of Parliament business, Moyo also proposed the streamlining and consolidation of parastatals with similar or overlapping mandates. He proposed that since the country’s economy is crowded with similar parastatals and loss making state funded agencies such as Botswana Railways, Botswana Post as well as Air Botswana which all trade in logistics, they can thus all be consolidated.
He also continued that those financial institutions such as Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) as well as the National Development Bank (NDB) can either be made lean, disposed off or consolidated to make them effective and profiteer as they compete for the same space with each other and private lending institutions.
He also proposed that government should make hay while the sun still shines by forestalling borrowing internally or externally to finance its budget in times when revenue from minerals and taxes dwindle. He says that Botswana should always look home first and does not need at any point to draw funds from its foreign reserves urging the state to look at other less dicey means such as disposing its assets to entities such as pension funds. He says that the immediate benefit will be that government will immediately be flush with cash from the transaction which should be pumped straight into government revenue stream to finance state projects.
He continues that government should then proceed to rent and use the assets it has sold such as its high rise buildings, removing itself from being liable to maintenance of the buildings as is currently the case. He also says that another benefit is that government will continuously earn revenue from the taxing the new owners of the property.
Moyo also said that another option is that government should also look into its tax regime and reduce the car corporate tax and asses the possibility of charging tax on turnover.
He says that charging tax on turnover is the same as charging tax on Value Added Tax (VAT) and the immediate advantage of it is companies will pay as and when they make profit and that government will have immediate cash in its coffers without waiting for year end. He says that this can be achieved if government reduces the tax rate and proceed to charge it on turnover or sales and not on net profit.
He said that this tax regime is beneficial as it prevents the passing of extended periods of time before government can collect due taxes. The result will be such that governments projects will be spurred on with the ever availability of funds.
He also says that the current tax regime is liable to manipulation because companies can look for any other expenses to include in the expenditures while charging taxes on turnover is near fool-proof as tax will be paid in shorter amounts of time.
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.