Chinese diplomats feel citizens of China are treated unfairly
The Chinese deputy ambassador to Botswana, Nan Li is convinced that citizens of his country want to invest in Botswana but they are restrained by unfair immigration laws. In a cautious statement this week, Li is certain that Botswana and China still have a lot to share going forward, but a few gaps need to be closed.
The Chinese diplomat defended the deficient long- term Chinese investment by Chinese enterprises operating in Botswana citing the country’s austere immigration laws and the country’s erratic deportation trend.
The solemn-faced Chinese emissary quashed off the popular anti-Chinese sentiment that has portrayed them in the light of rabid neo-colonialism emanating from their profit and dividend repatriation. He said from about two years ago the Chinese have been increasingly declared persona non grata for minor offences and sometimes handed out double punishment.
Li highlighted a recent case that baffled the embassy lawyers where a Chinese national was deported for a ‘minor offence’ of illegal fishing he committed two years ago and had already paid a fine for. He said the case was an extremely stringent justice for a minor offence and did not warrant deportation.
The Chinese diplomat went on to question why the Chinese national was not deported two years ago at the time he committed the said offence.
In a subject that could smack of lagging collaboration between the Chinese embassy and the local law enforcement authorities, the emissary categorically denied the involvement of his people in criminal activities saying that “dissimilar to popular belief that the Chinese are involved in criminal conduct a good majority of my people are decent expatriates operating under the confines of the law.”
He added that he has never been told or noticed of anything untoward by his people.
The Chinese emissary said that under the new immigration law passed in 2013 that allows for instantaneous, arbitral and unilateral deportation, “it has become difficult for the Chinese to manage their lives here.”
He continued saying that this law, coupled with stringent and unpredictable ways of the immigration department where the number of years of residence in Botswana have seemingly been reduced from five to three and two years is disruptive to the lives of families of the Chinese, their businesses and investments, stopping short of labelling it counter-productive.
Li went on to say that the Chinese do not feel secure, “They face difficulties in visa renewals even if they have been in the country for 5 or 20 years”.
According to Section 48 of the Immigration Act (1), “a person shall not have the right to be heard before or after a decision is made by the President in relation to that person under this Act.”
Subsection (2) goes on to say, “a person affected by any decision made under subsection (1) shall not have the right to demand any information as to the grounds of such decision nor shall any such information be disclosed in any court.”
Meanwhile, President Ian Khama has in the past expressed displeasure at the shoddy workmanship of Chinese companies notably telling a South African publication that the country has had very bad experiences with Chinese companies, triggering a strongly worded Chinese response expressing dissatisfaction at his use of counter-diplomatic channels to air his grievances.
BOTSWANA AND CHINA ENJOY CORDIAL RELATIONS The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation recently released a statement indicating that there is no tension in the diplomatic relations between the Governments of the Republic of Botswana and the People’s Republic of China. The Ministry spokesperson said relations between the two countries remain excellent and mutually beneficial.
“The recent visit to China by Hon. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi was at the invitation of the Chinese Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi and it was intended to further strengthen and deepen the existing bonds of friendship between Botswana and China,” reads the statement.
The visit afforded the two Ministers an invaluable opportunity to discuss issues of bilateral, regional and global nature, and the discussions were held under an atmosphere characterized by mutual trust and respect.
“China which is now the third (3rd) largest trade partner of Botswana and the second largest consumer of Botswana diamonds, is of strategic importance to Botswana as it has a lot of potential opportunities that Botswana can exploit to drive her development agenda, such as, trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and development assistance, to mention but a few.”
According to the release, Minister Venson-Moitoi also had the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on the Chinese Vice President Mr. Li Yuanchao who pledged the People’s Republic of China’s support towards Botswana’s development agenda.
ECONOMIC AND TRADE RELATIONS Economic and trade relations between China and Botswana have so far developed steadily and achieved satisfactory results, which may fall into the following categories, Li is of the view. However poor workmanship on some government projects across Botswana have soured relations at trade level. The Morupule B Power Plant is the sticky point.
While the growth of trade volume has made headway and enjoys further space of improvement, Botswana officials are irked by persistent Chinese poor workmanship on projects. The trade volume between China and Botswana in 2006 reached US $ 62 million. In the first half of 2007, this number reached US $ 47 million.
Though there is trade imbalance, Botswana was not concerned with it, relations were stable until the advent of Morupule B, and other projects. Botswana ranks first in diamond production by value and China has turned out to be the largest diamond consumer in Asia, with a domestic purchase of US $ 2.5 billion and an import of US $ 1.66 billion of luxurious diamond in 2004, this is a good trade statistics for Botswana.
Although there exists no direct transaction of diamond between China and Botswana, it can be assumed that significant part of the diamond exported to China should originate in Botswana. Expectedly, China's continued high demand for diamond and other mineral resources will maintain a favourable price in the world market, which means good news for diamond and mining sector of Botswana.
Chinese wholesale and retail business has benefited local market, most Batswana have benefited from Chinese goods. Some Chinese nationals are active in running businesses of garment, footwear, baggage, household apparatus, light-industrial product, food, motors and many more.
But recently government of Botswana is pushing the Reservation Policy to ensure that citizens participate actively in the clothing industry. Foreigners are compelled to partner with citizens if they are to be allowed to operate such businesses.
Botswana used to have stores, shops and supermarkets merely based in urban area, and rarely did people in rural areas have access to this kind of services, the Chinese people have penetrated the rural market, setting up shops in far areas. Pundits believe Botswana-China relations can still be nurtured so that it remains beneficial to both countries.
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.