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Ntuane pushes for BDP-BCP coalition

Ntuane admits UDC inclusive of BCP may take power in 2019

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane has warned that indecisiveness by the party in moving towards political and electoral reforms will effectively hand over power to combined opposition parties in 2019.

With reforms having been pivotal to political discussion in BDP recently, there is a group of influential BDP members who are opposed to some of the reforms as proposed by Ntuane.

However, Ntuane has exclusively revealed that, BDP has reached a point where it has a decision to make in order to save itself from being defeated by the opposition parties in 2019. “We need to review the current electoral system because if we leave as it is, UDC and BCP will move ahead and form a coalition which will remove BDP from power,” contended Ntuane.

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) have both committed to start cooperation talks in near future in an effort to dethrone BDP from power. Ntuane has observed that, if it was not the current electoral system (First Past the Post) the opposition parties would not have any incentive to cooperate.

The former Gaborone West South (now Gaborone Bonnington South) lawmaker is hoping that once the reforms are adopted by the party, BCP will back down on its plan to cooperate with UDC since there would be no vote splitting between the parties and any coalition will be determined by election results. PR as compared to FPT award seats to political parties based on popular vote rather than seats won.

In last year’s general elections BDP gained 47 percent, UDC 30 percent and BCP 20 percent, while the three parties garnered 37, 17 and 3 seats respectively. 12 of the 37 constituencies won by BDP came as a result of split votes, something which signals that BDP no longer have enough strongholds, therefore making BDP vulnerable to defeat by a combined opposition.  

Ntuane is of the view that in the event that the elections result in a hung parliament, a situation where neither party has won majority, BDP would have an advantage of approaching BCP to form a coalition government.

Ntuane admits that BDP is certainly losing its grip as far as popular vote is concerned. The BDP SG noted that while some are worried that PR system will lend a hand to opposition parties, FPTP is worse since it will predetermine BDP’s fate as a result of opposition cooperation prior to the 2019 general elections.

There are fears that despite delegates at Mmadinare Congress sanctioning the exercise of exploring the feasibility of political and electoral reforms, some within the BDP have grown paranoid about the idea and would do everything to prevent them from seeing the light of the day.

Ntuane, who is prepared to get his way with the reforms, has called on everybody to critically analyze the situation that the party find itself in because clearly the party is in danger. Ntuane is of the view that those who oppose reforms should underscore the fact that the status quo has resulted in 47 percent popular vote, something which he said it’s an indication that the party has to reform.

Reached for comment on Ntuane’s ambitious plan, BCP spokesperson, Dithapelo Keorapetse laughed off the idea, and noted that it is not viable under the current scenario. “We do not share a vision with the BDP and we will never form a coalition government with them,” he said affirmatively.  Keorapetse said the verity that BCP is working with UDC, with the possibility of joining is a precursor that it is the only party they can work with.

Keorapetse also expressed doubts on whether the proposed reforms could be adopted by the BDP owing to the fact that the same party rejected some of the initiatives some years ago. “I do not even think it is possible for BDP to adopt such reforms under President [Ian] Khama,” he said. “The BDP secretary general is a lone boy in these reforms."

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

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.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020

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.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

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.

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