A curious thought would visualize a lonely Presidential figure either frustratingly or patiently twiddling fingers waiting to be given feedback from a high level task force meeting that he was supposed to chair as the teamâ€™s supposed author.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi was supposed to have sat and presided on a series of meetings conducted by his brainchild, the High Level Covid-19 Task Team, but he remains in the pangs of the prison of self-isolation while the country waits in anxiety to see which direction the first strike of coronavirus will come from. Recently, Director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health and Wellness Malaki Tshipayagae used Section 25 of the Public Service Act to mend what was going to look like Masisiâ€™s forked tongue movement.
Masisi last week went to Namibia in a tour which was said to be â€œan emergency official tripâ€ by government and what his antagonists called â€œa secret trip.â€Â The trip came after Masisi declared a travel ban to countries affected by Covid-19, like Namibia which had three cases of the virus. Masisi faced backlash upon his return for doing a hypocritical move of going to Namibia after banning travels to affected countries, he was subsequently ordered to be under self-isolation.
Today will be the seventh day since Masisi and his entourage went to Namibia. Vice President Slumber Tsogwane has taken the reign and on Monday Tsogwane moved to include Lesotho and Swaziland to the list of travel bans after the two countries registered their first cases of coronavirus. Tsogwane said travelling to these countries, â€œis restricted with the exception of the movement of goods and services. Batswana and residents of Botswana returning from these countries will be quarantined for 14 days.â€
On Tuesday BusinessPost caught up with one of the series of High Level Covid-19 Task Force meetings where the business community was sitting with government to discuss what is next after Botswanaâ€™s big trade partner South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa announced a national lockdown which will have obvious negative economic implications for this country. â€œPresident Ramaphosa has assured His Excellency the President that, the movement of goods and services between the two countries will not be disrupted in any way,â€ said Vice President Slumber Tsogwane on Monday.
Masisi was not available for the Tuesday meeting because of the 14 day quarantine which separates him from everyone, including his daughter Atsile and the First Lady Neo and his close staff. In Masisiâ€™s absence, the High Level Covid-19 team meeting is said to have discussed on funds that have been opened to rescue the domestic economy which is already showing signs of catching flu from South Africaâ€™s economy. Government has moved to restrict instances of social contact and Masisi can only have contact with himself, maybe twiddle fingers while waiting for Slumber Tsogwane to brief and debrief him on the High Level Covid-19 Task Force meeting.
Inside Masisiâ€™s Task Force coronavirus meetings
The private sector leader, Business Botswana President Gobusamang Keebine confirmed to BusinessPost that the High Level Task Team met this week. Oabile Mabusa leads the private sector and sits with a co-ministry team from government. On Thursday morning Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Kabo Morwaeng, on behalf of the quarantined Masisi, announced that government or the High Level Covid-19 has established a Relief Fund where individuals, companies and NGOs can send their donations either as financial contributions or donations in kind.
Government has opened bank accounts with following commercial accounts First National Bank, Standard Charted Bank, ABSA Botswana, First Capital Bank, Bank Gaborone, BancABC and Bank of Baroda. According to Morwaeng, an account has been opened with the Bank of Botswana for donors outside the country. Business Botswana chief Keebine told BusinessPost in an interview that UNDP is also on its plan to help businesses or sector to sector recovery plan.
He said so far this countryâ€™s private sector and governmentâ€™s agreement is that there is no lockdown yet, â€œbut there will be close monitoring of the situation.â€ The Business Botswana president also said they are making sure to minimize business disruption. â€œWe have discussed screening and testing of people at borders who need to travel for essential services and for emergency goods. We also suggested an option that if things become worse, trucks carrying goods meet at borders of no manâ€™s land to exchange goods and taxes. Or the workers may be put on a 24 hour quarantine after transportation of goods, we are still discussing,â€ said Keebine.
Keebine said many sectors are already facing the negative impacts of coronavirus; the transport, hospitality and restaurant sectors. All the businesses who are associated with social contact are already suffering. On Monday Tsogwane said bars and liquor restaurants will be closed and only liquor/bottle stores will remain open until further notice.
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.