A proposal by leading BCP members requesting for a resolution on joining the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has sown a rift at that party’s ongoing congress. Party leaders have backed the proposal, which calls on congress delegates to resolve on joining opposition coalition UDC in efforts to topple the ruling Botswana Democratic Party in the 2019 general elections.
BCP’s stability and unity will be put to test as the two warring factions vying for the control of the party’s governing organ differ greatly on which direction to pursue with regards to opposition cooperation in particularly.
With President Dumelang Saleshando enjoying the endorsement of both groups, the opposition cooperation issue will be a matter of a team which wins the support of the delegates in the ongoing congress.
The two factions are led by the outgoing party spokesperson Taolo Lucas and outgoing Secretary General Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang who are both vying for the position of Vice Presidency. Lucas, backed by the party youth league is not supportive of the cooperation model that would see BCP become part of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) while Gobotswang’s team with strong backing from Kentse Rammidi want BCP to resolve on joining UDC after the congress.
If Dr Gobotswang’s team wins the support of the delegates in Kanye, BCP may resolve to join UDC, while Lucas team’s victory would result in the party remaining solo as it did in the 2014 general elections. BCP could be faced with the most trying phase of its existence. It is the only party that has maintained unity and stability since its formation in 1999. In the last elections, the party suffered immensely, managing only three seats out of the 29 they had set as their target.
BCP’s dismissal performance has been attributed to the party’s snubbing the UDC, a coalition made up of three opposition parties; Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). UDC managed to win an unprecedented 17 seats in the process, taking the total number of opposition seats to 20.
Rammidi, who will be contesting for the position of Secretary General, has issued an ultimatum to withdraw from the race if the party does not resolve to join UDC during the ongoing party congress. “It will be a difficult task for me to defend the party in the event that the congress has resolved not to join UDC,” he said.
The former BDP Secretary General said the 2014 general elections should serve as a lesson and the situation should not be allowed to transpire again. “A combined opposition could have won 33 constituencies, which is enough to win power under the current electoral system,” he said.
Rammidi who defected to BCP in May 2012, barely a few months after joining BNF from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was the victim of split votes himself coming third in the parliamentary race for Kanye North, a constituency which he was defending. Rammidi garnered 4030 votes, while Kwenantle Gaseitiswe of UDC got 5654, and the eventually winner, Patrick Ralotsia of BDP was voted by 5726 constituents.
Political analyst Lawrence Ookeditse has however stated that a decision on whether the congress resolves to join UDC or not will result in some being disgruntled. “You will always have individuals whose ambitions and delusions of grandeur make them think they are bigger than the party,” he stated. “Those you have in the BCP post congress will exist and possibly seek sympathy and the danger will however be in party ordinary members who may be discouraged to continue being active in politics as a result of whatever the decision of the congress.”
Ookeditse said BCP is a party which has managed over the years to be able to rally behind the decision of the leadership. “Whatever the congress pronounces will carry the day,” he contended. “BCP should come out with a decision because a vague statement on always wanting to work with others will not do, it will be nothing different from the status quo.”
Former party Vice President and outgoing Secretary General Dr Gobotswang has publicly endorsed Rammidi for the position of Secretary General. Dr Gobotswang also endorsed MP for Selebi Phikwe West and former youth league President Dithapelo Keorapetse for the position of Secretary for Information and Publicity. Other members of Dr Gobotswang’s lobby list include former party parliamentary candidate for Gaborone North Motsei Rapelana (Chairperson), Tshegofatso Raditlhokwa (Deputy Secretary General) and Dennis Alexander (Treasurer).
Meanwhile Lucas lobby list include him as Vice President, Dr Philip Mbulawa (Chairperson), Philip Monowe (Secretary General)Tshegofatso Raditlhokwa (Deputy Secretary General), Dr Ditiro Majadibodu (Publicity Secretary) and Dennis Alexander (Treasurer).
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.