The ruling party’s Secretary General, Mpho Balopi and his close associates in the Central Committee have been accused of introducing and applying dirty electoral tricks for the forthcoming National Congress to unsettle, silence and disarm those who wish to stand against their preferred candidates.
But the BDP secretary general has rubbished such thoughts and misguided.
Balopi last week issued two controversial press releases whose authenticity was questioned after the sacked Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Executive Secretary, Sechele Sechele who was a signatory to the other distanced himself from the literature.
WeekendPost has gathered that the National Congress candidates lobby commitees together with their candidates are intending to take up the matter with the party following their assessment of the press releases and ‘hidden intentions’ therein.
The first press release distanced President Lt Gen Ian Khama from supporting any candidate while the other informed the party that members who wished to stand for an elected position in the party at the forthcoming National Congress should inform the Party Secretary General in writing about their intentions by 5PM on June 1,2015’ and that the party primary elections code of conduct will guide all party internal elections including the 2015 BDP national Congress.
The lobby commitees argue that it is the first time in the history of the BDP that the primary elections rules are used in Central Committee Elections. They have gone on to question where the decision, calling it a mockery to the party, was taken and by whom.
They have brought to the fore that the same rules were not used in the previous Women’s Wing and Youth Wing elections.This, they conclude, is a witch-hunt by Balopi and his associates to unsettle, silence and disarm the candidates and purge those they deem offensive.
In defence of his Central Commitee,Balopi said the decisions were taken considering the circumstances and perculiarity of the forthcoming National Congress elections.
“We considered the influx of the candidates in these elections, we considered a series of media interviews granted by candidates which attacked and discredited not only the party but some candidates to some extent, among others,” he said.
Balopi said they did not just wake up the following morning to come up with such reforms, “We also sought guidance on the interpretations of a few constitutional clauses to see how far we can go as the Central Commitee,” he asserted.
Balopi said those who wished to stand for the lections had to go through his office ‘for planning and understanding purposes’. He further highlighted, “we also want to vet those who are not in good standing to avoid unnecessary confusions and this is also to check whether some of those are not the same people who some mebers have compalined about.”
Balopi said he doesn’t know why people hate him so much as he is only doing his job and advancing the interests of the party he has been elected to lead together with others. “I dont own the BDP,no,what we are sayin is that there are various platforms where reforms are discussed and approved not through the media,” he said.
He rubbished reports that he was targeting some progressive politicians like Botsalo Ntuane who is vying for the position he (Balopi) is holding to set up and engineeer a committee of his croonies so that he may rule from the grave. “I am not standing for the elections, and if anyone has got a personal issue against me let them come and I will respond accordingly,” he charged.
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.