Leader of Opposition in Parliament and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President, Duma Boko has proposed that in addition to the budget presented by Minister of Finance and Development Planning on Monday, a further P2 billion be added to engage in new projects that will enhance the country’s economic growth and create jobs.
Responding to the Budget Speech presented by Minister Matambo on Monday, Boko said government should set aside P500 million for land servicing; P200 million for Research and Development; P20 million for the Police Service as part of significantly enhancing its capabilities and capacity as a professional law enforcement agency.
Boko has also proposed for an additional expenditure of P800 million this year for spending on the development of vocational training and education in Botswana. He says government should consider proposal to finance the training of more than 10 000 citizens for six month and one year courses to equip the unemployed but trainable citizens for semi-skilled and skilled (depending on level) role jobs in the envisaged construction of the trans-Kalahari railway, Kazungula bridges, local area Government maintenance work and other community infrastructure projects.
The UDC also wants government to invest an additional P300 million in Public Private Partnerships (PPPS) for water drainage infrastructure/ technologies and solar/bio power technologies to harvest water and generate power effectively in communities.
UDC is of the view that there should not be any shortage of water in a place like Gaborone where there are occasional floods, and where if the water was harvested effectively, the country would not be under water-shortage strain. “We have noted the already existing investments in the north-south water carrier, but we believe much more can be done if resources were permitting,” he noted.
Boko holds that improving public sector efficiency is strongly linked with adoption of procurement policies that are derived from the creation of a Citizen Economic Law in this country.
The UDC president says privatization of public entities should be informed by a strong policy on who will own the privatized entity; how many jobs will be created as a result of such efficiencies and how privatization results in economic growth. Boko is of the view that citizen economic empowerment should be an integral part of sustained economic growth; and one of doing this should be through ensuring that Citizens participate in the privatization process.
Boko argues that for the privatization programme to be sustainable and beneficial to Batswana, government should come with a scheme that will ensure that Batswana participate and benefit from the privatization process. Boko says government should establish an Investment Fund, to allow Batswana to buy into state assets which are up for privatization.
“Although Citizen Economic Empowerment Law is critical for Botswana to create sustainable jobs, it has to be part of a broad industrial Policy Framework which under the UDC Government will provide a strategic direction to the economy,” said Boko.
Boko warned that without a citizen economic empowerment Law, Batswana shall remain poor; and Botswana will continue as the 3rd leading country in the world in terms of income inequality. Boko contends that to create jobs, there is a need for economic empowerment law that will support citizen SMME businesses through procurement.
Boko also took a swipe at the government’s failure to maintain efficiency in project implementation in Botswana, saying the country’s projects in recent years have not been completed on time and or on budget. Boko says the adoption of E-Procurement solution by PPADB will not help improve project implementation.
He noted that E-Procurement could only expedite allocation of projects; which is the whole objective of the solution. “What Botswana faces is poor implementation of projects which mainly causes cost overruns and failure to deploy the right human resource complement. E-Procurement solution will not address this,” he contended.
Boko says as a government which has ambition of being efficient and innovative, there is a need to invest in Research and Development to be spearheaded by Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) to develop commercial products based on our natural resources. Boko says Botswana should have been self-sufficient in beef and dairy products, and also be one the leading exporters of these products.
â€¨Boko, who is also Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington North says foreign pharmaceuticals are securing patents based on indigenous medicinal herbs, contending that local pharmacists and medical researchers should also be given the means to do that. “This indigenous knowledge that has been accumulated over millennia should be harnessed, not lost. Botswana is renowned for developing and exporting animal husbandry vaccines. This achievement can be replicated in other areas,” he said.
Boko says government has failed on its mandate of providing affordable house saying the situation is even becoming worse with time. “Now more than ever before, housing is beyond reach for the majority of the working population. Late in the day, even the rolled programme does not meet the demand for low-cost housing,” he observed. “We would propose an additional P500 million to purchase more land and embark on Public Private Partnerships for the servicing of those land-parcels in-order to make more land available for housing needs of a large number of Batswana,” Boko said.
Boko wants the government to spend an additional P200 million for further PPP Research and Development, commercialization and joint ventures in potentially niche sectors of Botswana such as food (meat recipes, cheeses, chocolates, morula drinks, honies), medicines, material sciences, coal beneficiation, solar technology.
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.