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Saleshando’s warning to umbrella supporters

He now pushes his party agenda and his business consortiums

After being defeated in the 2014 general elections by the Umbrella for Democartic Change (UDC) candidate, Dr Phenyo Butale in the race for Gaborone Central constituency, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president, Dumelang Saleshando is quickly adjusting to life outside Parliament. He tells WeekendPost Staffer, TEFO PHEAGE that he has more time to deal with party issues, dedicated reasonable time to his family and ofcourse, his business interests.


Saleshando is adamant that his party, has been at the forefront of opposition cooperation and still finds it laughable that there are voices accusing the BCP of shunning opposition cooperation. In fact he warns Umbrella Party model supporters that the widely held view that a combination of BCP and the UDC will automatically usher a new government could turn out to be a falacy in politics.


In an hour long interview this week, the BCP leader took time to explain his party’s position on opposition cooperation and his personal relations with proponents of the Umbrella model and his personality in politics. Saleshando is of the view that from the last elections, for every five people who voted for the opposition, two cast a vote for the BCP. “We are very much a factor in the country’s politics especially opposition politics, rule us out at your own peril,” he says.  
Saleshando says they will not be bullied into submitting to the Umbrella. He says they are strengthening their organisation, because in the case of a negotiation, they must bring a solid proposal to the table.


The BCP leader agrees that there are two options, the BCP and the UDC participating in elections as one entity or each party msinding its own business and a natural process will take place to make one of the parties irrelevant. He strongly believes the BCP has solid policies that people can identify with, hence their persistant resistance to a total close shop of their movement.


On discussing the Umbrella politics, the BCP leader is of the view that there will always be two sides to any argument. “Such a topic will obviously divide people, both within the UDC and the BCP as you would have realised. Movements that always make unanimous decisions without any divergence are to me dead movements,” he explains. According to Saleshando the BCP has cadres who are willing to deliberate on the subject of the Umbrella and he is confident that it will be put to rest this year after the party conference and elective congress.


The BCP leader stresses that one biggest mistake Umbrella model supporters make is that they automatically assume that the BCP joining the umbrella will translate to automatic state power. That according to him is a simplistic and rudimentary view of politics.

“Look here, one plus one is not necesarily two in politics. While we are mindful to the fact that we will have large numbers as a result, we must also be mindful of the fact that we will also lose some who are not for the model. Their frustrations may mean a lot of things, joining the BDP, forming own parties, abstaining and so forth. A typical example is where we cooperated with other opposition parties, especially the Botswana National Front (BNF) during Bye elections where our numbers combined were more than thpose of the BDP but we went on to lose to the BDP despite merging efforts,” he said.


The BCP is going foe an elective congress in July and some say it is the most challenging the party has ever convened, Saleshando doesn’t necesarily agree as he posits that ‘at the end of the day the party decides and when the party decides no man can say no’. But what is the role of a leader in a congress confronted by such issues? “A leader should guide, provide foresight and pave the way. You are the only one who is given a full hour to speak. My view is that I should do what I have to do and the members should decide for or against the Umbrella,” responds Saleshando.


The BCP leader leader says he has been accused of not using his executive powers in the past, but adds that  internal party democracy is at the core of the existence of the BCP as a party. “I will not lower the party standards to accomodate anyone, I will not be tempted to make uniliteral decisions and divide the party as I often see with other parties,” he said.


Saleshando agrees that the party did not perform well, “against our target yes. But we must understand that every five voters who voted for the opposition, two voted for the BCP. These numbers matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I pride myself from the fact that we are the only party whose message was clearly heard and understood by the electorates. But the escalated propaganda and lies which I admit we took lightly worked against us. We have a durable message,” he says.


He charges that his aim has always been to build a party that deals with core issues beyond fashion statements. Saleshando does not expect Batswana to give the opposition mandate just because it has announced a BCP and UDC merger or cooperation. He says there are other variables that will determine the 2019 outcomes, including what the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) does between now and 2015.  


SMEAR CAMPAIGN WORRIES SALESHANDO
In the run up to the 2014 general elections, Saleshando and his family were a target of ferocious attacks linking them to doing businesses with BDP kingpins. Saleshando at some point was accused, throcugh his wife, of trying to own a banck together with BDP members, while his father was castigated for being a shareholder in Wilderness Safaris, a company associated with President Lt Gen Ian Khama and his close associates. Although the BCP and Saleshando failed to deal with the smear at the relevant time, he is adamant that “i was always aware that lies have short legs and it is evident to many that it was all hogwash.”


He explained that his father bought shares in Wilderness Safaris through the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) like any other Motswana will do, probably, the company’s prospectus informed may dad, he said. He said Wilderness Safaris is no different from the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) where Batswana are encouraged to buy shares as soon as the company is ready.

“Do you want to tell me these guys are going to tell their members not to buy BTCL shares just because some BDP people bought shares there, this is ridiculous and misleading to the nation. We should encourage Batswana to buy shares in this companies. My dad is not a director or anyhting in Wilderness, whatever he owns is not even worth half a percent of the company’s worth,” he says.  


The BCP leader says he will not even honour the bank license ‘nonsense’ with a response, because it is a non-event. Saleshando admits that these are some of the reports that dented his party’s performances, especially among middle class voters.


On his personal businesses, Saleshando says: “I belong to some cosortiums with old friends and none of them is BDP or belongs to any political party. We normally make bids for property that is being sold and our company is doing very well. At the moment I am looking for additional investments, more so that I am not in Parliament anymore” he said. He adds that he is also currently focusing on his family to compensate for the lost time when he was a legislator. Saleshando is not apologetic about his business ventures and interests because they are all “clean and responsible”.


Asked about his first impression about the the first sitting of parliament, he says it is still early days but his greatest wish is that the opposition should not be misled into thinking that quantity will ever surpass quality.

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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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