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Political uncertainty in Botswana frights foreign investors

Think tanks and pundits alike have predicted that Botswana’s next week Wednesday polls will not be easy or free flowing. This wave of uncertainty has not only descended on politicians, foreign investors are also showing less confidence in Botswana markets.

Beginning of this year, rating agency Moodys said it expects limited election-related policy uncertainty in Botswana, Namibia, Senegal and Ghana, “given their track records of political stability.” But the political climate of Botswana has become more divisive and has sprung out before the eyes of international media, much to the evident fear of foreign investors. In his presentation, when making an analysis of African capital markets titled ‘Driving liquidity in African capital markets’, the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) Chief Executive Officer Thapelo Tsheole, highlighted limited foreign investor participation as one of the factors contributing to the continent’ s susceptibility to illiquidity. Tsheole also said African markets also suffer from; lack of financial literacy, high transaction costs, buy-and-hold strategies and small retail investor.

Market experts also told this publication that there was a lot of uncertainty during the beginning of this year going on towards this month’s polls. The main worry, according to experts, is the issue of the former president joining opposition, as that can mean instability in the Botswana political ground. No one was confident that the ruling BDP will win but now there is little hope hence foreign investors will remain reluctant in putting their money in a political uncertain country. Surveys and researches predicts that the 2014 elections BDP 46 percent vote will shrink even further. BDP got a popular vote of 53.3 percent in 2009. According to Afrobarometer survey conducted in July/August, BDP would enjoy a 2-to-1 lead over the opposition UDC 44 percent to 22 percent.

Beginning of this year, Africa’s leading bank by assets said BDP will win, but without an outright majority. The bank said an ongoing feud between the current president and his predecessor has wrought political unrest in the country. However the bank was still hopeful of Botswana even before this month polls saying: “We view the current political turmoil as temporary; we expect no significant deviation from the current economic policy, even if the BDP lost the election.”

A lot of action has not been seen in the local bourse this year and many believe it is because foreign investors are scared to invest in Botswana, especially before this month’s highly contested elections. This year there has been a trend of narrow decrease in Domestic Company Index. Even if the Domestic Company Index increases, it was with a very small significance.

Where the markets stands before the next Wednesday polls

According to Motswedi Securities’ recent Daily Financial Market Highlights released this week, while foreign investment on local markets has been low, activity improved more than tenfold on Thursday on the local bourse as compared to the previous trading session, with 244,000 shares moving through the market, worth a little under P529, 000. According to Motswedi’s Equity Market Summary, the highest performer was FNBB, which for the second consecutive day led the trades, only this time crossing 121,000 shares valued at P344, 000. From the previous day's 4 thebe climb, FNBB gained a further 5 thebe in the day's session the stock climbed to a year high of P2.85/share.

“It seems that demand for the bank's stock is strong, as can be reflected by the strides the share price is taking to extend its year to date – of which currently stands at 16.3%. On the losers end, Sechaba lost the one thebe it gained earlier on in the week. The stock moved back to its week-opening price of P20.56/share – courtesy of a small 100 shares changing ownership,” said Motswedi Securities.

According to Stockbrokers Botswana’s recent market commentary, the DCI ticked up by 0.16 percent to close the week at 7472.45. The FCI was flat, closing at 1564.54 points. BTCL was the biggest gainer this week, up 4 thebe to close at 105 thebe. Total turnover for the week amounted to BWP14, 961,093 as 1,846,272 securities exchanged hands. ETF NewGold held the lion’s share of turnover with 82 percent. BTCL’s share was 4 percent while Letshego’s was 3 percent.

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Seretse, Kgosi may walk free

30th October 2020
BAKANG SERETSE

The P250 million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) saga that has been before court since 2017 seems to be losing its momentum with a high possibility of it being thrown out as defence lawyers unmask incompetency on the part of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The Gaborone High Court this week ruled that the decision by the State to prosecute Justice Zein Kebonang and his twin brother, Sadique Kebonang has been reviewed and set aside. The two brothers have now been cleared of the charges that where laid against them three years ago.

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Understanding the US Electoral College and key election issues 

28th October 2020
Mark J Rozell

The United States (US) will on the 3rd of November 2020 chose between incumbent Donald Trump of the Republicans and former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democrats amid the coronavirus pandemics, which has affected how voting is conducted in the world’s biggest economy.

Trump (74) seeks re-election after trouncing Hillary Clinton in 2016, while Biden (77) is going for his first shot as Democratic nominee after previous unsuccessful spells.

US Presidents mostly succeed in their re-election bid, but there have been nine individuals who failed to garner a second term mandate, the latest being George W H. Bush, a Republican who served as the 41st US President between 1989 and 1993.

Dr Mark Rozell, a Dean of  the School of Policy and Government at George Mason University  in  Arlington, Virginia describes the complex US electoral system that will deliver the winner at the 3rd November elections.

“The founders of our Republic de-centralised  authority  significantly  in  creating  our  constitutional  system,  which  means that  they  gave  an  enormous  amount  of  independent  power  and  authority  to  State  and  local governments,” Dr Rozell told international media on Elections 2020 Virtual Reporting Tour.

Unlike  parliamentary  democracies, like Botswana the  United  States  does  not  have  all  of  the  national government elected in one year. They do not have what is commonly called mandate elections where  the  entire  federal  government  is  elected  all  in  one  election  cycle  giving  a  “mandate”  to  a particular political party to lead, and instead US have what are called staggered elections, elections over time.

The two house Congress, members of the House of Representatives have two-year long terms of office. Every two years the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election, but senators  serve  for  six  years  and  one  third  of  the  Senate is elected every  two  years.

For this election cycle, US citizens will be electing the President and Vice

President, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the open or contested seats in the Senate, whereas two thirds are still fulfilling the remainder of their terms beyond this year.

An  important  facet  of  US electoral  system  to  understand  given  the  federalism  nature  of  the republic, the US elect presidents State by State, therefore they do not have a national popular vote for the presidency.

“We have a national popular vote total that says that Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than Donald Trump or in Year 2000 that Al Gore got a half million more votes than George W. Bush, but we have what is called a State by State winner takes all system where each State  is  assigned  a  number  of  electors  to  our  Electoral  College  and  the  candidate  who  wins  the popular vote within each State takes 100 percent of the electors to the Electoral College,” explained Dr Rozell.

“And that is why mathematically, it is possible for someone to win the popular vote but lose the presidency.”

Dr Rozell indicated that in 2016, Hillary Clinton won very large popular majorities in some big population States like California, but the system allows a candidate to only have to  win  a  State  by  one  vote  to  win  a  100 percent of  its  electors,  the  margin  does  not  matter.

“Donald  Trump  won  many  more  States  by  smaller  margins,  hence  he  got  an  Electoral  College majority.”

Another interesting features by the way of US constitutional system, according to Dr Rozell, but extremely rare, is what is called the faithless elector.

“That’s the elector to the Electoral College who says, ‘I’m not going to vote the popular vote in my State, I think my State made a bad decision and I’m going  to  break  with  the  popular  vote,’’ Dr Rozell said.

“That’s constitutionally a very complicated matter in our federalism system because although the federal constitution says electors may exercise discretion, most States have passed State laws making it illegal for any elector to the Electoral College to break faith with the popular vote of that State, it is a criminal act that can be penalized if one is to do that. And we just had an important Supreme Court case that upheld the right of the states to impose and to enforce this restriction”

There are 538 electors at the Electoral College, 270 is the magic number, the candidate who gets 270 or more becomes President of the United States.

If however there are more candidates, and  this  happens  extremely  rarely,  and  a  third  candidate  got  some electors  to  the  Electoral  College  denying  the  two  major  party  candidates,  either  one  getting  a majority, nobody gets 270 or more, then the election goes to the House of Representatives and the House of Representatives votes among the top three vote getters as to who should be the next President.

“You’d have to go back to the early 19th century to have such a scenario, and that’s not going to happen this year unless there is a statistical oddity, which would be a perfect statistical tie of 269 to 269 which could happen but you can just imagine how incredibly unlikely that is,” stated Dr Rozell.

BLUE STATES vs RED STATES

Since the 2000 United States presidential election, red states and blue states have referred to states of the United States whose voters predominantly choose either the Republican Party (red) or Democratic Party (blue) presidential candidates.

Many  states  have  populations  that  are  so  heavily  concentrated  in  the  Democratic party or the Republican party that there is really no competition in those states.

California is a heavily Democratic State, so is New York and Maryland. It is given that Joe Biden will win those states. Meanwhile Texas, Florida and Alabama are republicans. So, the candidates will spent no time campaigning in those states because it is already a given.

However there are swing  states, where  there is a competition between about five and 10 states total in each election cycle that make a difference, and that is where the candidates end up spending almost all of their time.

“So  it  ends  up  making  a  national  contest  for  the  presidency  actually  look  like  several  state-wide contests with candidates spending a lot of time talking about State and local issues in those parts of the country,” said Dr Rozell.

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Masisi to make things right with Dangote

26th October 2020

High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.

Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana.  “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.

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