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BATTLE OF THE DOCTORS

Keletso Thobega

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DOCTOR BAE: Dr Pheko is already raring to go as she prepares for battle at Gaborone Central

A few days after she was confirmed as the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Parliamentary candidate for Gaborone Central, Dr Mpho Pheko is ready for what could be a fiery race of the intelligentsia.

This is a constituency that was won from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president Dumelang Saleshando in 2014, by Dr Phenyo Butale who was then representing the UDC. Dr Butale has since decamped to the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and he will be among the candidates vying for the constituency later this year at the general elections. A few weeks ago, there was brouhahaha when Dr Pheko, a member of the BCP, was announced as the constituency candidate, with many seeking to know who she was and her “claim to fame.”

By virtue of being female, she also had to contend with sexist jabs as well as questions clearly based on her gender. Some weeks back, things had heated up when after being announced then, the Gaborone mayor Kagiso Thutlwe publicly stated that Pheko was not representing the UDC in Gaborone Central as claimed. This attracted a barrage of criticism her way, with members of the BCP exchanging unpleasant words with their counterparts at the Botswana National Front (BNF).

The two parties are contracting partners in the UDC and Mayor Thutlwe is a BNF member who along with his party activists had wanted a candidate of their own in the constituency. The leadership of the two parties met to deliberate on the matter and following what was described as an amicable conclusion, she was allocated the Constituency. Last week there were many congratulatory messages and well wishes sent to her.

Now that the air has been cleared after the fracas, Pheko remains calm and graceful, evidently unperturbed by what could be regarded a “storm in a teacup” considering the long battle ahead for the hotly-contested Gaborone Central constitjuency. In an interview with The Midweek Sun this week, Pheko said she hopes to bring visionary, issue based, solution-orientated and clean outcome-based politics.

“Basically accountable leadership that recognises that MPs are given a five-year mandate and at the end of that period, they need to account to the people who voted them in,” she said. She said it is imperative for Batswana to introspect and figure out exactly what they want. “I wish Batswana could objectively evaluate the status of their personal lives, community lives, national development status and determine if they want to give the current government or those they have elected a renewed mandate,” she said.

She will subject herself to the same assessment in 2024, should she clinch the Parliamentary seat in the coming elections.“I have already committed to be a voice of the women, youth, education and community building,” she said. Pheko said that her political awakening was in 2008/2009, when the former president Ian Khama took over from Festus Mogae. “I believe that I am one of the Batswana who noticed or predicted then that his leadership style would not be suitable for the nation of Botswana.

At the time, I also realised that it was my civic responsibility to stop complaining about government and be part of a political home. I then applied for membership in the BCP – where I have been an activist.” Generally, in Botswana politics appear to be a hostile terrain for women. Pheko is however not naïve to the reality of politics. She is aware of how women are often undermined and discredited by virtue of their gender.

When asked on the supposed prevalence of sexual harrasment in political circles and the problem of women who supposedly date and sleep their way to the top in their political careers, she noted that it was a difficult issue to dissect particularly when one considers that it is birthed by several factors including socio-economic conditions, patriarchy and intimidation, the stereotypes about women in politics and pure propaganda aimed at discrediting women.

“It is a systematic problem – meaning that the solution ought to be scientific. Some solutions can be found in political education by civic society and political parties. Leaders ought to realise that they need to capacitate and facilitate women participation in both political and leadership roles.” Political funding is another key issue in politics and affects women more, because some of them might have the vision, skills and work ethic but lack the financial resources to fund their campaigns.

Pheko also noted that government should consider party funding if it is serious about being inclusive of women. She added that introducing quota systems and effective affirmative action could also shield women in politics from abuse. But the reality does not discourage her. “Beyond this, for now, as women, we will just need to toughen up.”

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BRING IT ON Ignatius Moswaane ready to serve Francistown West again

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READY TO LEAD AGAIN: Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane

Ignatius Moswaane is a former Francistown City Mayor and he served as Monarch Councillor until he took over the reigns as Francistown West constituency in 2014. The constituency had been in the hands of the late Tshelang Masisi before Moswaane took over.

Now the outspoken MP is ready to defend it.
He lists the construction of an additional secondary school at Gerald Estate, the undertaking of a P36 million streetlights project and construction of a road network at Monarch among some of his achievements both as Councillor and later MP.

“The peripheral servicing of the planned Central Business District (CBD) at Gerald Estate has been completed.  “Over and above that we have used the P10 million community development money from government to build houses, some of which we are renting out to public servants.“We have divided the constituency into three (3) clusters and each will have a multi-purpose recreational hall,” said the Botswana Democratic (BDP) Member of Parliament (MP).

He added that Gerald Estates and Phase 6 in Monarch will soon have a local center each owned by the VDC which will lease the shopping area to business. Moswaane initiated Monarch Development Centre to help the youth access government economic projects by, among other things, doing business plans for them for free. His next phase is to push for industrialisation of Francistown by using local resources. “Besides, Francistown must become an industrial hub for the region where, instead of SADC countries going all the way to Johannesburg and Durban to collect their cargo, the cargo is brought to the Francistown airport from their source be it Asia, or where ever by plane for the owner to collect the cargo here.

Our airport is under-utilised at the moment,” he noted. Another way of creating employment is for government to increase its efforts of using ISPAAD to help small scale farmers next to Francistown to grow fruits and vegetables to the extent that we do not import anything. Moswaane regrets government’s slow pace on allocating plots at Gerald Estates. “Since 2012 some 2500 plots have been serviced yet a lot of people from as far back as 1990s are on the waiting list because government is yet to allocate the plots.

The Minister had promised that the process would commence in December last year but nothing has thus far happened. If elected, I will follow up on the matter,” pledged the MP. He is also of the view that more resources should be invested in Nyangabgwe to make it a health facility of choice. “It should be turned into a state of the art hospital where special medical care is provided to attract even people from outside the country. The residents of Francistown need a district hospital,” he observed.

If he returns to parliament, Moswaane will move that the Youth Development Fund (YDF) be increased from P120million to P1billion and the Gender Economic Empowerment Fund from P50 million to P1 billion as well. Moswaane believes the country should build more technical colleges and brigades to carter for the thousands of students who leave school every year without the necessary grade needed as the entry threshold to tertiary schools.

In 2014, Moswane garnered 5304 votes against second-placed Habaudi Hobona of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who was voted in by 3461 voters. UDC was represented by Shatiso Tambula who managed a paltry 950 votes. This year Moswaane will have to fend off competition from Dira Moalosi of the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Mbaakanyi Lenyatso of the UDC.

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FREE AT LAST: LGBTI persons celebrate

Yvonne Mooka

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CELEBRATION TIME: The LGBT community celebrated the historic ruling on same sex romance this Tuesday

Thapelo Matshameko, a transgender woman who last year was attacked at Trekkers night club in Gaborone is over the moon about the High Court ruling that overturned a law that criminalised same sex relations.

A trans-woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. In response to the ruling, she told The Midweek Sun that even though she has had it tough before with people calling her ‘Brazen’ and to stop behaving like a woman, she is now happy that the law recognises that they exist. She said that Batswana are now becoming tolerant towards Lesbians Gays Bisexual Transgender and Intersex persons.

“Recently I went out for dinner with my bae, and I came all the way from my house wearing a dress. People that know me loved it and my boyfriend loved it even more,” she says, adding that the verdict will also help other LGBTI persons that are in the closet to come out.

In a previous interview Metshameko pleaded for assistance from members of the public to help her do a surgery that would make her a complete woman. For Motswakgakala Sithole also known as Motswafere in music circles, the ruling shows that Botswana is one step closer to gay marriages.

“Thank you to all the visible gay people. We take punches for those hiding and those shaming us for being visible and exercising our rights. You guys attended court cases with pride and you have carried us to freedom,” he said.

He also thanked Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), lawyers in the case, the media, and friends of the LGBTI community for their support. Phio Kenosi who identifies as trans non-binary asexual woma-romantic, (romantically attracted to the feminine essence), was also ecstatic.

“It is obviously showing that we are moving in a new direction that is positive and inclusive towards sexual and gender minority,” he said.

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