Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activists are said to be lining up to be counted as the search for two additional Specially Elected Members of Parliament (SEMP) who will lead two new-fangled ministries gains ground.
The need to tally up SEMPs and ministries was a resolution taken by the BDP caucus towards the culmination of the last Parliamentary session in 2015.
The caucus was steered by Assistant Minister in the Office of the President Phillip Makgalemele whose bone of contention was premised on the need “to augment new expertise deficient in the current crop of national assembly elected legislators.”
Indications suggest that the government is currently working on the bill to be shared with the nation through government gazette in the sands of time.
“A committee met recently to amend the standing orders to cater for the imminent portfolios of Specially Elected legislators who it is understood will as well be Ministers for the surplus two ministries. There will also be fresh two Assistant ministers to be chosen from the current pool of MP’s,” an immaculate source close to the cloak and dagger developments said this week.
Prior to the publication of the bill, those who got the winds of the amendments in the rough and tumble of political free-for-all, Weekend Post has gathered that ex- legislators who plunged in the last 2014 General Elections are secretly lobbying the powerful Office of the President to reflect on their names for probable engagement. However other’s names are said to have been slyly put on the ring.
Some of the former legislators whose names have been nosedived around for the looming positions include that of former Assistant Minister in the Office of the president and MP for Molepolole North, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri who lost to Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s Muhammad Khan in the last general Elections.
In addition former Assistant Minister of Health and Specially Elected law maker Gloria Somolekae who was also tumbled in a BDP primary election last year by Kefentse Mzwinila is also said to be on the books, including ex-legislator for Gaborone West North (now Gaborone Bonnington North) Robert Masitara who was defeated by Duma Boko in the 2014 elections.
Past Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Ndelu Seretse who reigned as MP for Serowe North East before facing mortification from Kgotla Autlwetse in primary elections, as well as former Gaborone West South’s (now Bonnington South) Botsalo Ntuane who bit the dust at the hands of UDC’s Ndaba Gaotlathe are also at President Ian Khama’s beck and call. The president has the prerogative to cherry-pick his battalion subject to endorsement by Parliament with the ruling BDP in the middle-of-the-road.
However the BDP SG Botsalo Ntuane downplayed the developments insisting instead: “before I reply on record which other names are mentioned?” he asked Weekend Post rhetorically when reached for comment. He then continued: “ha ha! With all due respect I think you are just on a fishing expedition because January is a slow news month. I am afraid I can’t comment on such speculation. Compliments of the new year.”
It is understood that more old guards who have had their share of the cake before may have their fingers on the pie yet again in the impending government tasks. Ntuane who is believed to be the main contender in the circle together with the maverick Masitara – who is seen by some as vigorous in his corruption campaigns may be roped in together, sources have revealed this week.
Meanwhile efforts to solicit comment from Masitara, Matlhabaphiri and Somolekae were fruitless at the time of press while OP Assistant Minister Makgalemele has not responded to this publication’s inquiries on the matter.
Ndelu Seretse, whose name was also mentioned in the prevailing state of affairs, told Weekend Post in an interview that he is not aware that he may be considered for the special election dispensation.
“I am not aware of it – I don’t know anything. Nowadays I am an ordinary person and enjoying myself here. So in case they consider me, I will see when I get to that stage,” he said in a low hushed relaxed voice.
The former Minister added that he “has spent 10 years in government and – that is a long time” while adding that “it will depend on how much the country needs me”. “I am in Serowe and indulging in farming, I am just relaxing for now and if there is any other opportunity I will grab it of course.”
According to Seretse, wherever the party and country wants him, he remains ready to serve. “I will serve my party and nation wherever am needed. If am required to serve I will serve but I won’t say am running for any position. God will reveal where he is placing me. I don’t want to be active in politics no more as I have been active for 10 whooping years. I now want to concentrate on my wife, family, and indeed on my own life. I think I have contributed enough,” he asserted.
However the former Serowe North East legislator pointed out that one mistake they often commit is to put themselves above other people’s interests as politicians while adding that God will lead his way. “I believe that if God wants me for any position, he will lead me into it,” he concluded.
The United Nation’s UNiTE campaign has marked the beginning of 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence which will end in December 10 2020, under the global theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”
The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women — is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.
The UN Women’s generation equality campaign emphasises the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.
Furthermore, the UN Secretary General’s report maintains that this year is like no other. Even before Covid-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions.
Globally, according to United Nations, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.
Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.
Evidently they suggest that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified- in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.
“In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abused, forced marriage, and harassment,” said the UN.
According to the UN, in April 2020 as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 member states responded with their strong statement of commitment.
“In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to Covid-19. Yet, much more is needed,” said the report.
Moreover, they submit that as today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action.
“It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis,” contended the UN report.
For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.
According to Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, there is urgent need to end pandemic of femicide and violence against women.
Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she emphasizes that as the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against womenis taking the livesof women and girls everywhere.
Therefore, she is calling on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.
These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases, and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance.
“Data this mandate has collected since 2015 through my Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80% of victims are women. Many of these femicides are preventable. Since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories,” she argued.
GBV in Botswana
UNFDP (United Nations Population Fund) Botswana cites that, locally over 67 percent of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.
“Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and normalization. Victims of violence, the majority of which are women and girls, can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death,” indicated UNFDP
In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered on Monday 9th November at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the snowballing of GBV incidences, saying, they have prioritized drafting of a Sexual Offenders Bill to be tabled during the sitting of the 12th Parliament.
“The Bill will establish a Sex Offenders’ Registry to record and publicise names and particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences. To date twelve districts have set up the District Gender Committees in Chobe, Kweneng, Kgatleng, Kgalagadi, Maun, Serowe, Selibe-Phikwe, North East, Bobirwa Sub District, Mabutsane Sub District, Goodhope Sub District as well as Mahalapye Sub District. These committees will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also address gender based violence,” Masisi said.
The President highlighted that the Botswana Police Service, which has been dealing a lot with GBV cases has taken swift action and introduced a Toll-Free number for reports on gender based violence. He further indicated that the Police will establish a Gender and Child Protection Unit
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.