With only three days left before the much awaited general elections on Wednesday, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) President Mokgweetsi Masisi, has revealed how he intends to reform this country and indeed confirmed he is what the doctor has ascribed for this nation. Masisi’s promises remains unchanged, be it either at political rallies and or Kgotla meetings. His modus operandi is underpinned on five main factors which he strongly believes they could herald a new Botswana under his BDP. A BDP which has ruled since independence 53 years ago
MASISI SAYS NO TO CORRUPTION
Masisi since ascending to the nations’ top post in April last year, has proven to be a new broom that sweeps the mess linked mostly to his predecessor Ian Khama. He has come out clear that he has zero tolerance for corruption and he distastes it with vigor and will do everything that Botswana remains a corrupt free nation, should he get a fresh mandate on Wednesday. “The main thing that hinders progress is corruption and you are going to be fighters in elimination of corruption” he has in the past specially told this to his cabinet ministers. “If anyone among us is corrupt we will deal with them.
If you have done something that was not deemed corrupt in the past, now it is, stop it because we will deal with it. Right now, there are no drugs at hospitals all these are attributed to corruption. It is not about money only, but rather inefficiency, claiming overtime that you didn’t work, lying that you dispatched tablets to hospital while you did not. The executive is supposed to direct all these and they should be sophisticated in dealing with this. If you are ministers don’t try to be a Permanent Secretary (PS), lenna I mustn’t want to be Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP),” he warned with passion.
BDP PROMISES COMPREHENSIVE CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW
For a long time now, various quarters have called for the constitutional revision and Masisi has also joined the bandwagon; but that could only be achieved if he is given a new mandate, he has reiterated this at his consultative Kgotla meetings. This, Masisi has also shared with his party candidates that as a party, plans are underway to revise the constitution as it has been demanded. He has asked his parliament candidates to tell voters that the constitution will soon be revised. “Manifesto is linked to the constitution and we will have a comprehensive constitutional review, that’s the promise you should tell people.
But it will be done when given new mandate so that we can argue at length and all the stuff. The review should be orderly and purposeful and from all Batswana.” He has also cited example of Ntlo ya Dikgosi, saying some feel they are not included arguing that everyone should be equal. “The intention is not to break anyone but rather unite us as Batswana.”
MASISI ON THE JOB CREATION QUESTION
The latest statistics has showed that Botswana has 17.90% unemployment rate with the youth especially graduates mostly affected by this disaster. The party through its leader has made it their priority to ensure that most Batswana are employed in the next five years as Masisi continues to source out Foreign Direct Investments and luring in investors to check the local environment. He has decided not to commit as to how many jobs he would have created if given mandates.
“I know that you have appetite on the number of jobs we would have created in five years. We shied away from doing that, deliberately so. And that doesn’t make our creation of job any lesser. There are lots of variables that come with job creation or committing to such. What do we do when South Africa stop our container import, what do we do? Wage bill going up without any returns coming in.”
President Masisi has upped the tempo in ensuring that the youth are empowered by introducing the President’s Initiative. This week two youths were roped in by Steve Harvey’s Family Feud show as interns. Not only that; his commitment to ensure most youth are employed has seen him inviting businessman Strive Masiyiwa, where they both agreed that they will sweat until at least 3000 youth are employed. This he says will be anchored on the ICT as it has proven that it is the only tool that could emancipate the youth from trenches on joblessness. “Before the next five years elapses, Rwanda will be behind us.
But we need political commitment and it should be Batswana running these ICT projects not underhand deals of tenders. We will have to involve them (youth) in town hall meetings just like we did with Masiyiwa some years back. Will be carrying out another one where we are expecting 6000 youths.” He said further reiterating that, “Government does not create jobs but rather create enabling environment. We want to open this economy and this need us working together”.
To further demonstrate his call Masisi through his government has Botswana submitted a bid to host the Forbes 2020 under 30 summit billed for April next year. “As part of president’s initiative the government is negotiating with Forbes to host a summit that brings together 600 of the world’s most elite entrepreneurs and game changers including 200 from the host country and 200 of the best under 30s from around the world.” This summit according to Masisi would place Botswana at the center of entrepreneurship and incubate the local setup scene which will assist most of the budding business minds.
CITIZENS TO PARTICIPATE IN TOURISM ECONOMY
The lament that locals are pushed to the woods when it comes to the meaningful participation of the economy especially the multimillion tourism sector is another matter that will be pushed and implemented by Masisi’s led government should he succeed. “The BDP government is also concerned by the way Batswana are participating in tourism and we will implement Citizen Empowerment law and Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) law”. President Masisi says this is for the locals to be included in the economy of this country.
We will have citizen participating in tourism economy and we will also push for economic diversification law, we want them to buy and sell what is produced locally. We cheat our fiscals by supporting people who are not helping the locals.” In his meeting with the locals he has echoed the same sentiments pushing Batswana to show interest. “We will re-possess those concessions and we will offer you Batswana ba Sekei opportunity to own them. Now you should start forming clusters or cooperatives so you can work together,” he said this recently in Maun, the country’s tourism hub.
DECENTRALISATION OF SERVICES (WATER &HEALTH)
Shortages of drugs and medications in public clinics and hospitals which have been going on will have to be seriously corrected if Masisi is to win. This according to the President, will call for the decentralization of management. “We are also about to decentralize the health system. We want to decentralize management of the health services, so that decision could be taken at a local level and they are capacitated by a budget. So when we prepare for that we will ensure we include that with my competent cabinet and it looks like they will agree with me.” He said there should be no shortages of medications as that tarnish the BDP and it will be a thing of the past in the coming months. “Re rogakwa ke batho mo dintshong mo, gotwe ga gona dipilisi tsa high-blood, this should stop.”
In a kgotla meeting in Mathangwane and Mogodistshane this week he added; “We want to do the same (decentralization) for water, lea bokolla ka metsi mo go lebaneng. But we will be very sensitive to the budget implications. Because in reality part of failures with water, is procurement. PPADB Act needs to be reviewed. Information is leaked; and this is corruption! What do you want to achieve when you leak information about the multimillion tender? That must stop! Some of you who leak this I know you. This will also not grow our private sector. We might amend WUC Act, to allow Council to pump water so that we can have water in our taps, but you should know that water is a scarce resource”.
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.
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.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.