Basarwa case raises tribalism issues at the High Court
Tribalism could have played a part in determining the termination of basic services for Ranyane residents in the Gantsi District, the Gaborone High Court has been told.
When explaining to the court the reasons behind shutting down water and draught relief programmes from Ranyane ahead of the forced resettlement of Basarwa tribes from the area last year, the Gantsi administration authority suggested that it was because the free services which were initially reserved for Basarwa tribes of Ranyane were no longer sustainable due to the influx of Tswana speaking farmers in the area.
The Gantsi District Council revealed to the court that the decision to terminate provision of fuel and maintenance to the engine at Ranyane was taken because of the influx of a lot of Tswana speaking farmers from other settlements. According to the Council the services were exclusively meant to service Basarwa tribes who have lived in the area over a long period of time.
The 115 residents of Ranyane who are demanding the restoration of the services have taken the Council to court. Their attorney, Onalethata Kamabai has argued that the reason for termination of the services as appears from the Council papers are offensive to the constitution of the country because they suggests that the decisions were taken along tribal discriminatory basis.
For many years, the Gantsi District Council has provided various services to the Ranyane residents including provision and maintenance for the borehole engine which the people depend on for their daily water needs. Various government drought relief schemes have also been provided to the residents for many years by the Council.
However on or around July 2013, the Council announced that it will stop providing several services which it has been providing to the residents. This announcement gave rise to the present suit wherein the residents seek restoration of those services that the Council used to provide. Such services include fuel and maintenance of the borehole engine, mobile clinic and Ipelegeng programme.
The broad issue for determination before court is whether the manner of termination of these services and other benefits which the Council used to provide to Ranyane is lawful.
“The applicants case centres on legitimate expectation, and to this end the narrow issue for determination is whether the applicants had a legitimate expectation that they will continue to enjoy the services provided by the respondents uninterrupted and that in the event of any decision adversely affecting their enjoyment of the services is taken by the respondent, they were entitled to a hearing before such a decision is taken,” contended Kambai.
THE BOREHOLE ENGINE The residents have averred in their affidavit that since around 1990s, the Council has been providing them with engine to provide water for domestic use and watering their animals. The engine was used to draw water from the only borehole at Ranyane for residents.
The issue that the Council had since 1995 provided diesel and maintenance for engine to the Ranyane borehole is not disputed. The residents averred that the Council stopped provision of diesel and maintenance for the borehole engine in the first week of December 2011. The engine according to the complainants was removed by the Council employees around that time and was brought back five Months later. The engine has since broken down and the residents had to fend for themselves.
According to them this is a nightmare for them since most of them are unemployed and do not have any source of income as the Council has also terminated the draught relief programme, Ipelegeng which was the only source of income for the majority of Ranyane residents.
The Council’s decision is viewed to be in violation of the international consensus on the right to water by the United Nations General Assembly which declared that the right to safe and clean drinking water is a fundamental human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.
However the Council contends that the Ranyane residents had borrowed the engine and made an undertaking that they will take full responsibility of its maintenance and fuel supply.
TERMINATION OF IPELEGENG PROGRAMME Around 2009, Ipelegeng was introduced at Ranyane during a kgotla meeting. According to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, this programme was aimed at short term employment support and relief whilst at the same time carrying out essential development projects that have been identified and prioritised through the normal development planning process.
The programme employed forty residents on a rotational basis. The Council’s report for 2012/2013 on Ipelegeng shows that there was deliberate planning and budgeting of the programme at Ranyane.
When the programme was terminated, a certain Council employee was sent to inform the Ranyane Headman of Arbitration that he should inform his people that they should not report for duty on the 4th of July 2013. In the answering affidavit filed at the High Court, the Council contend that the programme was terminated because Ranyane is an unrecognised settlement and therefore there were no projects to implement in the area.
However the residents contend that at the time of the termination of the programme they were engaged in a number of projects including, de-bushing, cluster policing and cleaning the kgotla.
In fact it is through Ipelegeng that a kgotla, flush toilet, standpipe and fencing of the grave yard were constructed in the settlement.
The Council had a difficult time convincing the court as to how public funds were used on these developments which are located on an “unrecognised settlement.”
“The respondent’s reason is palpably untrue and contradictory because by virtue of Annexure “I” the Attorney General at the time acting on behalf of the respondent (Council) reasoned that there is no Ipelegeng in Ranyane. In annexure “K” the government spokesperson Dr. Jeff Ramsay stated that there was a reassessment regarding the Ipelegeng programme. There has never been any progress report of the alleged reassessment whatsoever to date,” the complainants’ attorney, Onalethata Kambai told the court.
The inconsistent statements regarding the termination of Ipelegeng at Ranyane therefore gave people a reason to conclude that the project was terminated as an extra-judicial measure to starve the residents of Ranyane and compel them to relocate from the place.
When Ipelegeng was introduced in the settlement back in 2009, there was no issue of the place being unrecognised settlement. The programme continued uninterrupted until it was unceremoniously terminated in 2013 following the Council’s failed bid to relocate the residents against their will to the nearby Bere settlement.
MOBILE CLINIC SERVICES Following the initial case Management conference held at the Gantsi District Council Chambers of record, there was consensus that the mobile clinic matter could amicably be resolved at the hearing. Ranyane is said to be now receiving a couple of mobile clinic services and therefore this one demand was taken down from the list of demand brought in by the residents.
Meanwhile Justice Terrence Rannowane has reserved the judgment on this matter.
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.