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Gov’t ordered to create Fund for Sinohydro claims

TROUBLED SSKA: Government has been ordered to deposit money into a fund that will be used to settle claims.

Judge Michael Leburu of the Lobatse High Court on Wednesday ordered the Government to deposit a sum of P43 319 326.29 into an Escrow account agreed by both parties that would be solely used to reimburse the government for any claims against Sinohydro in the construction of a new terminal building at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone.


The Chinese contractor was employed to render services for the expansion and refurbishment of Sir Seretse Khama International Airport but the contractor and the Government of Botswana agreement of contract fell off the rails unceremoniously last year over shoddy workmanship and delay in the project.


When passing the judgment, Judge Leburu relied mostly on the Dispute Adjudication Board (DAB) Sub – Clauses agreement that were mutually created by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST) and Sinohydro to settle disputes between the parties that the government did not abide by as per the applicants’ filing.


“In terms of clause 20.4, if a dispute arises between the parties in connection with, or arising out of the contract or the execution of the works, including any dispute as to any certificate, determination, instruction, opinion or valuation of the engineer, either party may refer the dispute in writing to the DAB for its decision with copies to the other party and the engineer,” said Judge Leburu.


The Judge also observed that if any party was dissatisfied with the decision of the DAB, such a party was entitled to provide a notice of dissatisfaction within 28 days of the decision, failing which the decision would be final and binding.


“It is common cause that the respondent (MIST) did not issue a notice of dissatisfaction with the DAB’s decision with regard to the opening of and depositing of the funds into an escrow account with a financial institution,” Judge Leburu clarified.


The Ministry of Infrastructure Science and Technology (MIST) through its attorney, Mr. C. Gulubane in their response to the application indicated that Sinohydro had failed to exhaust the contractual dispute resolution mechanism available to it before going to court, and that there was a dispute pending before the ICC that incorporates performance bond that was brought before the Lobatse High Court.


On dismissing these submissions, Judge Leburu said, “On the basis of the aforegoing, it was therefore open for the applicant to invoke other rights it had by approaching this court to seek redress and enforce an arbitral award.”


It was also brought before court that Sinohydro was dissatisfied with certain portions of the DAB’s decision that the termination of contract by MIST was valid, thus giving such notice of dissatisfaction to DAB. The matter was referred for international arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the said arbitration is still pending.

 
P527 MILLION WAS PAID TO SINOHYDRO

The Chinese construction company-Sinohydro was contracted to build a state of the art terminal and expand the airport’s runway in compliance with IATA standards. At the time, the government’s plan was for the airport to accommodate more passengers especially towards the World Cup in 2010.


The tender was fast tracked and Sinohydro was given from June 10, 2008 to May 11, 2010 to complete the expansion of the P433-million project. But the completion of the project was halted as the Ministry led by Minister Johnnie Swartz terminated Sinohydro’s contract in July 2011 as there had been major faults identified in the project and failure to meet the targeted deadline despite several extensions.


At the time of termination of the contract, Sinohydro had completed approximately 90 percent of the project and had been paid about P527 million. MIST Permanent Secretary, Dikagiso Mokotedi had told the Public Accounts Committee that Government’s rushed tendering process for the expansion of the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKI) was the major factor that led to poor management of the project and its subsequent delays. 


He revealed that the project was started even before the design was complete in a rush to finish it before the 2010 Soccer World Cup.


BOTSWANA/CHINA BILATERAL RELATIONS
According to a report authored in 2009 on China’s Role in Infrastructure Development in Botswana, bilateral trade between the two countries surged from nearly zero 30 years ago to $52.4 million in 2004, $69 million in 2006 and $149 million in 2007.

With China becoming the second largest luxury diamond consumer in the world, importing $1.66 billion worth of diamonds in 2004, trade volumes between the two countries would surely increase should China be allowed to import diamonds directly from Botswana.

China’s total imports from Botswana surged from $8.1 million in 2006 to $26 million in 2007, while China’s export to Botswana increased from $61 million in 2006 to $118 million in 2007. Although no detailed trade breakdowns can be sourced, the upward import trend and the surging figures correspond with Chinese construction companies’ footprint in Botswana.

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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
Khato-civil

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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