The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is contemplating taking legal action against the Minister of Lands and Housing, Prince Maele after he accused the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Duma Boko of plagiarism.
The accusations nearly sent Parliament into chaos and Members of Parliament from the opposition bloc demanded that Minister Maele retract his accusations. The Member of Parliament for Okavango, Bagalatia Arone was consequently thrown out of Parliament by the Speaker after he switched off Maele’s microphone and demanded that the minister take back his words albeit unsuccessfully.
The UDC spokesperson in Parliament, Dr Phenyo Butale confirmed that they are taking the matter further by engaging the courts. “We view the accusations very seriously and we will not allow Honourable Maele to soil the name of our leader with baseless accusations,” he stressed.
Dr Butale also informed that newspaper that by stretching the boundaries of diatribe to radio stations, “Minister Maele has literally thrown away the immunity of Parliament and we are weighing our legal options.”
Minister Maele took the matter to a private radio station where he argued that: “opposition Members of Parliament always display intolerance in parliament". He was unfazed by legal threats from the UDC. He stretched his accusations and repeated them, “These people never research, they always plagiarize. In Boko's speech (paragraph 9), he plagiarized paragraph 8 of the Land Policy, o e manolotse jaaka e ntse, saying what we are saying. He plagiarized 3 paragraphs," the Minister of Lands and Housing told Duma Fm.
Contacted for comment, Minister Maele said he is ready to fight the UDC in court, “as a Motswana and a Minister of Lands I have rights to express my views and defend the government.” He said if the UDC believes that they have a case against him, they must prove that his views are not correct, “I still stand by my views that they plagiarised, if they are going to court they must do so immediately,” he said.
Maele said no one from the opposition has produced evidence to indicate that his views are not correct. “I am ready to meet them in court, I am not shaken.”
The Land policy of the current government focuses on four key issues, that is, land tenure, access to land and protection of land rights, land management and administration and institutional and legal framework. The policy says that every Motswana be eligible for one plot in the country, that land be repossessed where there is evidence of mismanagement. The policy has also proposed the establishment of land authorities to transform and professionalization of land boards and other land administration authorities. It also advocates for measures to be put in place to access housing without necessarily owning a plot.
Therefore, the primary goal of this Land policy is to protect and promote land rights of all landholders and promote sustainable human settlements and improve land allocation through establishing an up to date land information management system.
In his response to the Budget speech, the UDC leader indicated that his party would significantly accelerate and expand efforts to provide serviced plots at reasonable price, especially for first time property owners.
“In particular, we would propose an additional P700 million to purchase more land and embark on Public Private Partnerships for the servicing of those land-parcels in-order to make more land available for the housing needs of a large number of Batswana. We would simplify process, through legislation, to secure land rights in communal areas,” he stated.
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.