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SA’s mind games plunged SADC into power crisis

Botswana’s resources could power SADC region

While the Southern African region is reeling in devastating power supply challenges, research demonstrates that resources are available to supply the region, provided there is cooperation between partners.

A research paper titled Botswana’s Coal: Dead in the Water or Economic Game Changer? released by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAII) in November 2014, penned by Ross Harvey, concludes that: The reasons for South Africa’s lack of co-operation on the Mmamabula project remain unknown.

In hindsight, it would have lost nothing either politically or economically. Political and economic ‘losers’ would normally attempt to block the advance of new initiatives and technologies to protect their own rent streams, but in this case the mutual benefit from co-operation seems obvious.

Meanwhile, the South African government is finalising plans to procure 9000 MW of nuclear power, which is patently unwarranted in the light of the country’s capital borrowing constraints and the time lag of 10 years before any of the six proposed stations come into operation.

The purchase of 1 200 MW from MEP would provide revenue for Botswana and sufficient electricity supply in the short run for both countries, especially when considered alongside the existing 600 MW generated by Morupule B Power Station. Even in the absence of South Africa’s co-operation, coal-to-liquid and gas-to-liquid technologies could potentially be harnessed regionally to provide energy security for Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique.

“More urgent research is required into how this could work and where the stations could be positioned optimally. Coal bed methane in Botswana, and natural gas from Mozambique and Namibia, along with coal in Mozambique and Botswana, could power at least these three countries into the foreseeable future,” states Harvey in his paper.

South Africa is in the process of building three large coal-fired power stations. Eskom, the state owned entity responsible for power generation, in partnership with the national Department of Public Enterprises, promised that the first of these, Medupi, would go live by the end of 2012. Mid-way through 2014, it was still not producing power. In an effort to compensate for the foreseen supply shortage after the 2008 blackout crisis, Eskom embarked on a programme of procuring power from independent power producers.

Harvey observes in his paper that the 2.7 billion tonne Mmamabula project was heavily dependent on guarantees that Eskom would purchase Mmamabula’s power under an IPP agreement, but South Africa later reneged on its promise, leading to the project failing. The project was expected to help Botswana attain energy independence and boost diversification away from diamonds. South Africa’s u-turn sparked allegations that Eskom was protecting its monopoly on thermal power generation.

The purchase of 1200 MW from MEP would provide revenue for Botswana and sufficient electricity supply in the short run for both countries, especially when considered alongside the existing 600 MW generated by Morupule B Power Station. Even in the absence of South Africa’s co-operation, coal-to-liquid31 and gas-to-liquid technologies could potentially be harnessed regionally to provide energy security for Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique.

More urgent research is required into how this could work and where the stations could be positioned optimally. Coal bed methane in Botswana, and natural gas from Mozambique and Namibia, along with coal in Mozambique and Botswana, could power at least these three countries into the foreseeable future.

CIC Energy’s Mmamabula Energy Project, is a planned 1200 megawatt (net) capacity power station and integrated coal mine project in Botswana that is intended to provide power to South Africa. Notwithstanding the suspension of the ME, this project remains the most advanced independent power producer (IPP) project that can meet the demand for new baseload capacity in South Africa in the medium term.

In December 2009, CIC Energy suspended all development activities for the MEP unrelated to the regulatory approval process in South Africa, after South Africa’s first integrated resource plan (IRP1) was made public and unexpectedly did not cover the time period relevant for the MEP.  In May 2011, South Africa’s second integrated resource plan was completed and unfortunately did not provide any opportunity for the Company to supply power to South Africa prior to 2019, and then only in smaller amounts than 1200 megawatts.

The research concludes that: “Climate change and its attendant mitigation and adaptation policies pose a serious risk to any new coal-mining or coal-fired power investments. However, electrifying Southern Africa through coal by harnessing new technologies is arguably less environmentally and socially costly than the current costs of indoor air pollution from burning wood and other fuels. This only holds until solar base load becomes a reliable and cost-competitive source of power. Botswana is endowed with abundant coal resources, with potential exports of around 72 Mt/a and the ability to generate at least 1200 MW of extra power through MEP. However, its options in terms of exporting the resource are limited and costly. This note argues that new thinking is necessary, and calls for research to ascertain how to optimally harness the region’s coal and gas to secure reliable power generation. Without power, sustainable economic growth will remain a pipedream. Protecting the environment in the process also remains a significant challenge.”

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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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