In 2019, Robyn from Birmingham, a young ambassador for Albert Kennedy Trust who had grown up in an abusive family before coming out as LGBT+ was disowned by her family for being transgender.
Shahnaz is a transgender woman in Iran. Her experience of coming out mirrors that of thousands of Iranian members of the LGBT+ community who struggle under the combined weight of expectations from family, society, the law and religion.
Jessica Albert is a transgender woman who had to find ways of surviving in Nigeria. She found out that she is HIV positive. She has been arrested for being gay and faced 14 years in prison for expressing her sexuality. Albert’s family disowned her, as it believed that she was possessed.
These are stories of transgender women from across the world, with different religious backgrounds, cultures and expressions. In as much as the world is pushing for inclusion, respect for human rights and burning discrimination based on sexual orientation and calling for unity, members of the LGBT+ community are still subjected to abuse, vehemence and discrimination.
The world is failing to come to terms with evolving trends. People are content in their sexual expressions and the world is not. Transgender women are bearing the heat. Many are being disowned for coming out as transgender. Perhaps there is lack of knowledge about what transgender means.
Transgender is an umbrella term for those whose gender differs from that which they were assigned at birth. This includes binary trans people and non-binary trans people. Transgender woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth.
Kesaobaka Jackson, a Motswana transgender woman living in South Africa can relate to the above upsetting stories. She has been through the storms, just because she opened up to her family as a transgender woman. She now survives through the streets of Johannesburg as a creative, having been on TV as an actor, model, presenter and DJ.
Even though she moved to South Africa to hunt for greener pastures, Jackson, literally has no one to call family. Her family has disowned her. “My mother disowned me because I would not conform to her word of model-child. I was only loved if I bring money or give out something,” she said in an exclusive interview this week.
She indicated that during her time as a student at the University of Botswana (UB), she gave out all of her savings with a hope that the family will invest in small business which all went to waste.
“I couldn’t finish my degree after being diagnosed with clinical depression. I lost everything. I had to move to Johannesburg even when I was penniless which was a very serious risk.”
Growing up with a present-yet-absent father added salt to the injury. Each day was a misery for Jackson, and emotional anxiety did as it pleased with her. If it wasn’t for a thick skin, she could have long done the worst. Miserably, this is what LGBT+ community go through in their lives, the weak ones barely survive.
“We always fought over the neglect and abuse I endured from my father, being it physical, psychological and emotional. It was not an easy walk in the park, but I had to end our relationship to heal and grow.”
When quizzed on why her transition alienated her family, Jackson pointed to religion. Religion has always been at the center of these controversies. Earlier in Botswana, churches and the LGBT+ met at a crossroad, with difficulty in steering towards the same direction.
The LGBT+ emerged victorious, as churches came to party very late. The courts had long decided in favor of the vulnerable community. The argument was that homosexuality is a sin and should not be tolerated in Botswana.
“The family argued on religious grounds. Things are not looking good and I don’t think it will ever be considering all the years of conflict. It’s bigger than me and I choose to distance myself to find healing, unlearn and learn new values and beliefs. I am now free to be myself,” said Jackson.
Transition procedures are literary highway robbery. Most transgender women fail to successfully transition because it is pretty penny. But for Jackson, his life partner in South Africa became a saving grace.
“I didn’t struggle with government documentation because I underwent thorough medical assessment at Marina hospital, which was working hand in hand with the Ministry of Gender and Home Affairs then to correct my sex marker to rightful sex which is female. My life partner has always been supportive throughout the journey.”
It is not as simple as ABC to survive in Johannesburg, especially as a foreign, transgender woman. The city is known for high violence rates: robbery, rape, murder and kidnapping. In fact, Johannesburg is where most of the population is located therefore it is vulnerable to such.
“At this point, I am just living and hoping for the best. It is like living in a void, with uncertainty of ever making it. Having to deal with depression, suicidal thoughts and grieving the resent passing of my mother who was in conflict with me, takes a toll on me daily. I feel like giving up but some spirit in me says I shouldn’t.”
As an artist, Jackson had no choice but to utilize her mind: she ought to do something and it is now or never! Talk about survival of the fittest. “I try selling my paintings and sculptures and other crafts at Maboneng streets during the day, and at night I am a DJ in clubs and sometimes in good days, I rake modeling and commercial jobs I cast for. But my life partner is assisting me and I am a surviving creative at this point.”
Now that he has lost her mother and brother, Jackson was asked who she has now, and she, without hesitation, said “The love of my life, my fiancée. He has walked alongside me since 2018.”
Meanwhile, in recent years, the LGBT+ community has become more visible and accepted among Botswana’s population. The High Court has been at the forefront of LGBT+ rights in the country.
In 2016, it ordered government to register Botswana’s main LGBT+ organization, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO). The following year, it ruled that transgender people have a constitutional right to change their legal gender.
Two years later, the High Court struck down colonial-era laws banning homosexuality, and ruled that sex as defined in Section 3 of the constitution, should be generously and purposively interpreted, to include sexual orientation.
Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has been banned since 2010 in Botswana, making it one of the few African countries to have such protections for LGBT+ persons.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.
The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.
The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.
Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.
The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.
Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.
Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.
In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.
It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.
The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.
The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.
One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.
The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.
Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.
The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.
In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.
The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.