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Masisi has Sekoma Khama had Mosu

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi — like his predecessor, Lt Gen Ian Khama — has commissioned the construction of a publicly funded private homestead at his acknowledged farm in Sekoma. The President may be forced to walk the tight rope of the law in implementing the project, but there is likelihood of fiscal policy pitfalls.

Despite controversies that surrounded Khama’s Mosu homestead, construction works have commenced in Sekoma to build the incumbent President a similar homestead, but there are reports that there is an effort to make sure everything is within the rule book. It is reported that a number of Directorate of Intelligence (DIS) agents and Botswana Defence Force (BDF) members have been stationed there to provide security. In addition, a high profile DIS agent who is said to be a close friend to the President has been appointed to supervise the project.

Like the Mosu project, much of the costs will account for the airstrip that will be built to facilitate the President’s regular air travel to and from Sekoma. When confirming this, a source close to the developments said: “It is an upcoming project. The fact of the matter is there are constructions underway. All the controversies that had been linked with Mosu, I see a repetition, a possible likelihood of abuse of public funds if they are not careful. You know all what has been said in the past about Mosu.”

President Masisi, who was the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration when the Mosu debacle unfolded, has decided to take another bullet from the resentful public, this time around to reward himself. Khama’s Mosu homestead was considered an unnecessary and a wasteful expenditure by his administration.  When taking over the baton of Presidency, Masisi had promised to promote good governance during his presidency, but the Sekoma debacle could turn out to be a serious blot on his copybook if he does not monitor the work by civil servants at his private crib.

While the public frowns against such possible abuse of public funds, Government contends that it is within the law to carry out such projects in favour of a sitting president. A sitting Presidents deserves highest possible security and a residence that matches his office, those close to Government dealings theorise. The construction of an airstrip in Mosu has previously been justified by government, a contention which was even defended by the current Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Kagiso Mmusi.

Mmusi told Parliament recently that the construction of the Mosu airstrip in 2013 was estimated at open market to cost approximately P10 million. “However as a cost saving measure the BDF opted to utilise available earth moving equipment instead of outsourcing,” clarified Mmusi. He further revealed that upon completion of the Mosu project in 2018, it was established that the cost of the project was P6 427 494.68, which was less than the initial estimate of P10 million.

Members of Parliament then raised a crucial matter when they asked Mmusi to account for all the other airstrips on the former Presidents of which he was not in a position to give the exact costs inquired on the airstrips. MPs were worried that even though the Minister says there is a specific budget allocated to Presidents as a benefit to build airstrips, it has emerged that some have erected airstrips on more than one land. Mmusi could not confirm the allegations as he said he needed time to seek appropriate information relating to the two former Presidents; Festus Mogae and Ketumile Masire.

Senior government officials had once confirmed when appearing before the Public Accounts Committee that the controversial Mosu airstrip had been built using public funds. What further raised eyebrows on the Mosu project was that its budget had been placed under the intelligence security budget. Placing the budget under the intelligence and security allegedly meant that the airstrip is a security threat which was not the case. It is believed that including the budget on the intelligence budget was allegedly to avoid further questions on the project as they would cite security considerations.

Masisi, while Presidential Affairs Minister gave an explanation as to why and how Mosu was budged for. Masisi had explained that the airstrip at Mosu was constructed by personnel and machinery of BDF as an exercise and measure of utmost economy.  If the airfield was to be constructed in the open market, using prices in the open market, he said it was roughly estimated that it might have costed more than what had been budgeted for.

Therefore, frugality by the BDF and the government, led by the Botswana Democratic Party, Masisi said it was thought to have been the best alternative to engage BDF personnel whose costs would be the cost of operating the machinery, maintaining it as the personnel are in there.

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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

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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