Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) defenders, Secretary General Mpho Balopi and Youth Wing chairman, Andy Boatile have lashed at Johnson Motshwarakgole and his Federation for ‘interferring’ in the party’s internal elections.
Balopi and Boatle are of the view that the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU)’s efforts to try and influence the outcomes of BDP’s upcoming elective congress will come to naught. BOFEPUSU announced last week that it will influence its members and sympathizers within BDP not vote for Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi in his bid to become the party chairman.
This has irked BDP party leadership, and the ruling party’s secretary general issued a subsequent statement castigating the union for what he called “meddling in the affairs of the BDP.”
Balopi defended Masisi’s policy towards workers, and noted that the Vice President believes in a society that is just and opens up opportunity for all its members. “He believes that workers should be renumerated fairly and their conditions of service must also be improved,” said Balopi in a statement.
Balopi said BOFEPUSU is still held on pre-elections rivalries instead of adopting a reconciliatory stand. He further accused, BOFEPUSU’s Labour Secretary, Johnson Motshwarakgole of being a divisive character. “Once again, BOFEPUSU is wasting limited workers resources and time in a political campaign that has nothing to do with them and the interests of members,” he stated.
In the run up to the 2014 general elections, Masisi was among the list of Members of Parliament who were viewed as anti-workers therefore having to be de-campaigned. Among the list include former Gaborone Central MP and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando and former Leader of Opposition Botsalo Ntuane who went on to lose their parliamentary seats.
BOFEPUSU has had not a good relationship with Masisi ever since the 2011 public servants strike in which Masisi was then minister responsible for public service. BOFEPUSU has described him an enemy of labour movements therefore deserving to be de-campaigned.
Balopi said BOFEPUSU has lost the true mandate of the trade unions and it is has now lost the plot as its leaders are politicians masquerading as trade unionist. “The race for the BDP Chairmanship is a matter to be decided at congress by members of the party and we don’t understand why Motshwarakgole imagines he has the power to dictate how our people will vote,” he contended.
The BDP Secretary General said Motshwarakgole is still smarting from electoral defeat and he personally is still dealing with having his ambitions of being specially nominated thwarted.
Meanwhile Boatile has observed that Motshwarakgole wants to influence BDP members to vote weak leaders. “The reason why he is afraid of Masisi is that he knows that he is the one who will take the BDP to victory in 2019,” observed Boatile. The Youth Wing chairman said he was ready to defend the Vice President against Motshwarakgole who has lost his sense of purpose as a unionist.
Masisi announced his bid for chairmanship a few weeks ago, changing the race for the coveted central committee position. The battle for chairmanship will see Masisi facing strong contenders in former Cabinet Ministers Ramadeluka Seretse and Tebelelo Seretse, while the youthful Biggie Butale has also been mentioned as a candidate who’s likely to cause major upset in the race.
Tebelelo Seretse, tried her luck in the Chairmanship in 2009, when he faced the than indomitable Daniel Kwelagobe but suffered a defeat.
Masisi’s entrance into the race is viewed as a strategic move to consolidate his power within the party as he readies to take over the presidency in three years time. Masisi will automatically become president of Botswana when the office becomes vacant at the beginning of April in 2018.
BOFEPUSU has made it clear that they will do everything in their power to block Masisi from becoming Vice President, though he will ascend with the help of constitution provision.
BOFEPUSU leadership is convinced that Masisi played a mainstay role in the government’s decision to take away multimillion GEMVAS tender from Unigem (Pty) Ltd, a company which is owned by affiliates of BOFEPUSU save for Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) which de-invested from the company last year for what it called “business reasons”.
“He (Masisi) is the one spearheading the GEMVAS in-sourcing such that by the 1st of June, 2015, it would be totally under the control of government. We disqualify Masisi because if he succeeds Khama as the next President he would be a much worse dictator than him,” said Motshwarakgole.
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.