A spirited campaign by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) saw the party rip through some of the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) territories in the Southern part of the country during last Friday’s general poll.
But the same cannot be said about the Northern half of the country where the ruling party won over two thirds of the available parliamentary seats.
The second city, Francistown, for instance, has three constituencies of which two went to the ruling party and one to the main opposition, UDC. Constituencies stretching from Dibete to Gweta all went to the ruling party.
Effectively the BDP has the Central District and North East to thank for winning this election. For the first time in its history, the party has won government by a popular vote, which is less than 50 percent (46.0 percent).
Francistown South Member of Parliament (MP) Wynter Mmolotsi of the UDC says he is not intimidated by the continued dominance of the BDP in the North.
He said his party is confident of erasing the BDP in all areas. He promised that the next wave of campaigns will be reaching the North in due course. Mmolotsi was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Francistown constituents, thus putting to rest assertions that he had run away with BDP votes.
Winning BDP candidates in other areas ascribed their victories to the “cash they poured” into the campaigns.
After emerging victorious against his rivals in the Francistown East Constituency, Billy Honest Buti said in the run-up to the October 24 general election, he spent over P800 000. He said the exercise was daunting as his campaign team had to conduct house-to-house campaigns as well as do consultations with other stakeholders.
Through the door-to-door campaigns Billy said he identified issues which he will tackle during his tenure as Francistown East MP.
“Many people in Francistown are not aware of Government initiatives, I will align my plans to the already available initiatives and Francistown’s Vision 2022 to help move the city forward,” he said.
But Billy’s seat is not a safe bet for 2019 because the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has a strong presence in the area; a complete unity in opposition ranks could easily sweep him away.
However, Billy remains resolute that he can survive any combined opposition onslaught.
Meanwhile, BDP’s Ignatius Moswaane for Francistown West ensured that BCP’s Dr Habaudi Hobona spends the shortest time in Parliament when he defeated her in the national polls.
Hobona entered the National Assembly through a by-election from which the BDP was barred from contesting earlier this year. Habaudi Hobona was the first opposition woman MP. She was frustrated by the poor development status of the city.
“The rulers have this kind of ownership mentality over the people they rule. The people literally wait for handouts from Government. There is no spirit of ownership. There is no spirit of self-entitlement. It’s all subservience. That is not good for any democracy because the rulers develop a master mentality,” she said.
Moswaane has meanwhile also pledged to improve developments in his constituency. The Francistown West legislator is under pressure to push the city’s development agenda as residents are clear that their loyalty to the ruling party is not yielding any results development wise, with the city becoming more of a ghost town.
BDP insiders in Francistown revealed that they are expecting the wave that ran through Gaborone to shift to Francistown. They said several factors would determine their political future as individuals and the BDP, such as Cabinet appointments, President Ian Khama’s choice of Vice President and indeed developments in the City of Francistown.
Francistowners also feel the city has been neglected as developments are now being channeled to main villagers in the Central District. They want planners to balance infrastructure distribution or risk an opposition takeover in some areas in the North.
The BCP has a large following in the North-western part of the country. They have one Member of Parliament in Okavango, Bagalatia Arone. BDP politicians in the area have also expressed worry that the relaxed attitude of their leaders in Gaborone could come at a cost in 2019 should the opposition work together.
They point out that, constituencies like Maun, Chobe and Nata are not BDP strongholds any more. According to BDP insiders, the Ngami constituency won by Thato Kwerepe under the BDP ticket is also a very marginal constituency and should scales tilt to opposition unity, the BDP will “kiss the constituency goodbye if reasonable service delivery is not demonstrated in the area”.
The BCP also has numbers in the Selebi-Phikwe, Bobirwa and Tswapong areas. BDP members are aware of the threat posed by a united opposition. Already the BCP has one MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse in Selebi-Phikwe West, and he could be the spring board of opposition unity in the area.
Indications are that the three BCP MPs in the House have already agreed to work as a team with their 17 UDC colleagues.
For the first time, the BDP has failed to garner a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
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.