Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Minister of Environment wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama may well hold the key to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) central committee race. The two leaders are being lobbied to contest for the chairmanship of the party by some party members.
Already former Minister of Justice Defence and Security, Dikgakgamatso Ndelu Seretse and former Botswana Ambassador to the United States, Tebelelo Seretse are the two leading contestants in the race for the chairmanship of the ruling party. Other party members such as the Tati West Member of Parliament, Biggie Butale and former Youth Wing chairman, Dithapelo Tshotego have expressed interest in the race to chair the BDP’s highest governing structure.
Those advocating for Masisi to be roped in indicate that as Vice President, the position could help him familiarise with the party more and even reinforce his stature. The chairman of the BDP is ceremonially powerful because it is the second command after the presidency of the party. This publication learns that there are members who are lobbying or intend to lobby the Vice President to give the idea of contesting a thought.
But there are some sceptical democrats who do not want the Vice President to be pushed into a contest that he is not ready to partake in. They fathom a situation where the Vice President could end up losing to either Tebelelo Seretse or Ndelu Seretse, they point out that this will be untidy for the party.
Masisi is currently the chairman of the party’s Publicity and International Cooperation Committee. His position of Vice President gives him some form of grip within the party and most BDP members are of the view that as chairman he could assert his authority well at party level.
There is also a case for Tshekedi Khama, there is a group that is lobbying or intends to engage the Minister of Environment Wildlife and Tourism over the possibility of him running as chairman. They believe that he carries some weight as a businessman, politician and brother to the President. Some say they appreciate his leadership qualities and he will be able to coordinate the affairs of the party better.
Those advocating for Tshekedi believe that he has the stamina to push through as chairman through 2017, when the party will hold its most crucial congress expected to take the party to the 2019 general election. Within the same camp, there is talk of attempt to engage Ndelu Seretse to make way for Tshekedi should the latter accede to the lobby.
It is evident that the dust is yet to settle on how the race will actually look in July when the BDP holds its elective congress. But pundits expect the national party council in March, youth wing and women’s wing congresses in February and March respectively to determine battle lines.
As to who will be the next secretary general, Mpho Balopi looks set to defend his position. There is also a chance that he has been approached to run for parliament in the South East South constituency in 2019, the position of secretary general could come handy in his bid. Sources are adamant that Botsalo Ntuane is not yet certain on whether he will run for secretary general or not. He may have to wait for the clear slates to determine the fitness of his candidacy.
It remains to be seen how far lobbying Masisi and Tshekedi will go and how it could impact on the decisions of candidates who have already declared interest to run for chairmanship and other positions. Former Vice President, Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe is the current chairman, some of the view that if push comes to shove, he may well just hold the fort.
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.