In an anticipated turn of events, the Botswana National Front (BNF) Vice President Reverend Dr. Prince Dibeela is challenging the incumbent party President Duma Boko at the coming elective congress scheduled for July.
The congress comes few months after the just ended 2019 General Elections in which the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) failed to win power in the contentious elections. An affiliate of UDC, Botswana National Front (BNF) is the nucleus of the Umbrella party, and has been leading it since its official formation in 2012, and therefore very central in the shape and form of UDC.
Following a humiliating loss at the polls, Dibeela confirmed his intention to challenge Boko in an exclusive interview with WeekendPost this week after keeping a low profile for some time. “I am challenging him, without a doubt,” he asserted to this publication. He would not be drawn into further details citing party regulations. However this comes at a time when UDC leader Boko has previously said in 2019 if the UDC does not perform well at the elections he will resign, the sentiment which he has defaulted on for unclear reasons.
“But if he resigns, that’s fine. It means I will automatically become the President until next elective congress,” Dibeela told this publication last year in preparation for this year’s congress, adding that Boko said so many other things that did not come to pass and therefore he can never trust his word. The former Mmathethe/Molapowabojang BNF of UDC candidate highlighted then that if the BNF leader who also doubles as the UDC President doesn’t resign as promised “I will challenge him and I am sure other people will as well because he has done too much damage.”
The BNF Vice President hinted ahead of last year’s elections, some in the party members threatened to leave the party to form a new party proposed as Social Democratic Party but, “I told them that Boko is a temporary irritant. And so we are not going anywhere. The system will spit him out.” The reverend contended then that BNF could have split long time ago but he protected it because he understood that “even though he (Boko) is like this, he has a massive following especially among people on social media who don’t know what is happening on the ground.”
He added: “I saw a possible split in the BNF if we overthrow him even though so many people making the majority in the Central Committee have long wanted to pass a motion of no confidence on him.” “At that time we were 18 in the Central Committee and those who supported me were 12. And so we had clear majority at the time. So we could have easily won. So that is what we wanted to do but the timing was never right.”
Dibeela continued: “you remember that joke which was said to be the UDC congress held at Fairgrounds, that thing was a mess. They wanted to pass a vote of no confidence on him after that but it was clear his stooges were aware of that and ready to fight and so there was going to be a split, I said to them that I don’t want to be part of that.” The renowned politician-cum-pastor predicted last year that Boko will probably lose his Bonnington North constituency ‘as his character did not resonate well with the constituents and ordinary people.’
“He thinks because of his name as a brand (well established lawyer and Advocate) he will win. But he demeans people and cares less. He is pompous,” he said. In Dibeela’s lobby list, he is deputised by Dr. Patrick Molutsi. The proposed Chairperson is Kagiso Tshekega while Secretary General is Noah Salakae. Nelson Ramaotwana is tipped for the position of Deputy Secretary General; Treasurer is Olebeng Watshipi and Organising is Tona Mooketsi.
A surprising feature is Kago Mokotedi standing in for Publicity. Mokotedi has been a staunch Boko supporter and a member of “fear fokol” cabal who defended Boko through thick and thin and bet their lives with his name. It is unclear when Mokotedi and Boko broke ranks. For Political and Labour is Shawn Ntlhaile and Eitlhopha Mokeresete and Calmon Mogalakwe is running for the International Affairs portfolio of the BNF. For Economic Affairs, Tlamelo Shadikong will stand together with Happy Bashe for Health. The pastor’s lobby list is themed “team restoration; returning the BNF to its revolutionary culture.”
Meanwhile incumbent leader Boko has themed his lobby list “organisational stability and integrity towards 2024 elections.” In the lobby, Micus Chimbombi assists the incumbent; and Dr Molutsi appears as a campaigner for chairpersonship. For Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa has thrown in his name in the ring while Kenneth Segokgo is contesting for the Treasure General of the party. Happy Bashe is contesting for Deputy Secretary General portfolio with Incumbent Publicity Secretary Justin Hunyepa trying to defend his position.
Andrew Motsamai is tipped to be Health Secretary and Victor Phologolo for Labour Secretary. For Organising Secretary and Economic Affairs the lobby will send Tabona Masole and Ontatlhile Selatlho. Motsumi Marobela is vying for Political Education.
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.