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De Beers proceeds with Sight 3

“As the situation around the world continues to evolve rapidly, we have been speaking with our customers to understand their requirements. While this is an extraordinary situation, our customers continue to express their desire for the Sight to proceed. We are therefore focused on standing with our customers, meeting their requirements and proceeding with Sight 3.”

This is the most functional paragraph in a De Beers release announcing that Sight 3 will proceed amid coronavirus fears. “The health and safety of our people, our partners and our communities is our overriding focus. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have implemented measures as advised by the WHO, national governments and our pandemic response team at our operations and offices,” the statement further reads. The year 2019 was a tough trading year for the global diamond industry, predominantly due to US- China trade war.

The economic uncertainty generated by unstable geopolitical climate arising from the Washington –Beijing tensions led to widespread uncertainty and a global downturn in the diamond industry during the first half of 2019 spilling over to the entire year. These also fostered a heightened sense of caution among the banks that finance the trade, as well as diamond brokers and consumers of luxury goods, leading to significant decline in commerce across all segments.

During the last quarter of 2019, the industry showed signs of slight recovery with holiday season in China and United States thanksgiving opening up the market a bit. Positive sentiment and upward trajectory continued into first sales of the year 2020, with leading producers, Alrosa and De Beers registering an impressive upswing. But that was short lived, thanks to the outbreak of Corona virus in December 2019 which intensified in February this year. De Beers’ second sight fell by about 36 % from the first sales of the year and 25 % when gauged against the same sight in 2019.

This was mainly due to slow business in China where corona virus broke and was more pronounced. After the United States, most of De Beers’ rough diamonds end up in China. Business was also slow in India and Belgium, countries that house some of the world largest centers of diamond cutting and polishing industries. This week reports have also added Israel, another key diamond hub into the list of countries where cutting and polishing firms have closed shop amid COVID 19 global spread.

While that is looking to heavily affect De Beers third sales cycle of the year , travel bans by Government as part of measures  to stop the  spread of Corona into Botswana has directly caused a stir at De Beers Global Sight holders Sales(DBGSS). De Beers Global Sight Holder Sales sells diamonds from all De Beers operations, which are Canada, South Africa and Namibia. Botswana alone through Debswana produces over 2/3 of De Beers Global production.

DBGSS conducts 10 sales sights a year,  where  the world ‘s leading Sightholders from New York-United States, Antwerp- Belgium , Tel Aviv -Israel, Mumbai-India descend into Gaborone to inspect the rough diamonds offered to them, purchase  and ship out to their various cutting and polishing firms in their respective countries. All this countries were on Monday put on travel ban by Government due to their already confirmed cases of corona virus.

According to American business media outlet, Bloomberg, De Beers is currently struggling with how to conduct diamond sales because key customers are blocked from travelling, let alone entre Botswana. The next sight is scheduled to start on the 30th of March. “Our intention remains to hold the sight, in line with the desire for it to go ahead as expressed by customers, but we are developing a suite of contingency plans in the event that it is not possible to hold the sight in the usual manner,” De Beers told Bloomberg this week.

Reports indicate that De Beers will next week hold an emergency meeting with the Government of Botswana with a view to come up with a remedy to the situation, mutual arrangement that would possibly strike equilibrium between health precautionary measures and trying to avoid catastrophic economic shocks from zero diamond trading. “The consistency and predictability of De Beers Group’s rough-diamond products enable customers to have the option to purchase products unseen, and our, our customers continue to express some demand for rough diamonds and have communicated their desire for the sight to proceed,” De Beers officials said.

“We are also looking at how best to meet each customer’s current requirements through other flexibility measures which will be communicated to them in the coming days” added the mining giant this week. Other option reported to be under consideration by the mining behemoth are arrangements such as holding a “blind” sight, where buyers don’t get to look at the goods they’re purchasing. De Beers’ customers could also send local staff to the sale, as many has representatives in either Botswana or South Africa.

Last year De Beers sold about $1.36 billion less worth of rough diamonds. In the year 2018 De Beers’s rough diamonds sales amounted to US$5.39 Billion, approximately P54 Billion, this was a slight pickup from the 2017 sales value of US$5.31 Billion. For the year 2019 the company‘s entire  ten sights only gathered just over $4 billion in  total sales, way below the 2018 value by about $1.35 billion (around P14 billion) mirroring a 25 % decrease.

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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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