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Masitara reveals presidential ambitions

Following Pelonomi Venson Moitoi’s courageous presidential bid, Robert Masitara who is contesting as an independent candidate for Gaborone Bonnington North has also expressed his intention to contest for the leadership of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in future.

Masitara hinted that he wants to be president in the next cycle of General Elections following 2019 or after President Mokgweetsi Masisi steps down. “Yes I am looking at 2024 sir or beyond that. And the issue is not about President Masisi but about what I believe in. It needs to be done,” he told Weekend Post in one-on-one interview this week. He emphasised that “to be honest, I foresee myself in the future standing for presidency. That’s is my ultimate vision.”

He justified that as a president he will fight corruption to the core with his expertise that he has on corruption. “I want to direct these things as sometimes you are headed by somebody who doesn’t understand issues of corruption the way you do, and they tend to suppress you,” he highlighted. Masitara also added that “and you can’t fight it effectively than you would if you were the one in charge while knowing corruption with its manifestations.” 

Corruption in Botswana has been institutionalised

He said he has been for a long time the lonely voice speaking the institutionalised corruption at parliament. “I have long cried about the state of corruption in the country. From 2009, I was the lonely voice on corruption. But look at Masisi – he is talking about the corruption situation now, for example I did speak about the Botswana meat Commission (BMC) long time back. Look what is happening now. You should revert to my reports while I was Chairman of a parliamentary oversight committee of parliament,” he said. 

Masitara reminisced that he has long spoken of BMC misuse of money through feedlots, board members paying themselves pensions without any paper trail, people paying themselves overtime without any documentation. “You can see that everything here, that corruption has been institutionalised. To extend that now, it has become a faculty on its own,” he highlighted. According to Masitara, President Masisi can’t fight this thing as what the government is doing in relation to corruption is simply firefighting.

“The causal effects we are not attending to them. We are concerned only about the resultant effect right now. When we are sitting on them and they don’t come out, we will never know about them. So I will only focus on the causal effects,” he said.
The Gaborone Bonnington North aspirant said is disappointed that he has always talked about corruption and people didn’t take heed of him. “When you are the only voice in parliament denouncing corruption then you look like a sell-out.”

He asserts that the awaited declaration of assets law is useless

The ex-Gaborone West North, the incoming law on declaration of assets is simply useless. “I have long spoken about it, the law is a useless tool. When DCEC had a conference two years back I told them that this thing has been overtaken by time,” he said. The maverick ex BDP MP recommended that let the Masisi administration bring him in government and he will convince them to do away with this thing.

There is another tool that they can use, he observed while adding that they should introduce the lifestyle audit at a different angle which supersedes the declaration law. “People right now are not owning assets in their names. They have written their properties by the name of their maids, garden boys and so forth. Certain transactions are also not done through their names. So that declaration law is a waste of time,” he reasoned.

Commercial banks are being used in corruption practices

According to the corruption busting politician, perpetrators of corruption have taken a step ahead, and they are so educated and innovative.He said “Banks are being used now for capital flight. Banks are being owned by Directors somewhere outside the country but they operate in Botswana. They are experienced in issues of corruption more than us.”

The influx of Chinese in the country, he said, is contributing to corruption, as they know corruption more than locals and their institutions; and more than the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), the Botswana Police Service and the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).

The forensic specialist decried that billions of pula are continually taken out of this country thorough financial systems. On China’s soft loan to Botswana, Masitara explained that the country don’t even need to borrow money from outside the country.
“Why should we be debting Botswana in these billions of pula of loans from China? There is money that is held by Batswana people who took money to buy houses in Dubai, Cape Town, Durban and other areas.

That capital flight must come back to Botswana, through repatriation, to service all these loans to develop our country,” he pointed out. The one of a kind politicians also observed that the Asset Forfeiture department under the Attorney General is not doing its job. “In other countries the department is recovering billions of money that is used to develop infrastructure,” he said.

PPADB Act and all parastatals laws are flawed

Masitara highlighted that he thanks God to have taken him out of the system for a while when he lost the elections the other time (in 2014). “So that I must and interact with other people, open business; Masitara Forensics and tender through physical tendering to be involved with the system just like an ordinary person and so I realised where corruption emanates from.”Instead of being told as an MP like he was Chairman of a parliamentary oversight committee “I seen it with my eyes.”

He justified: “now for me to be involved in the actual tendering processes; registering of companies, then PPADB and all the other requirements, I have seen the bottlenecks on the real cause of corruption. None of the members of parliament understands corruption to the extent that I do. They have been absorbed through the system. They have never been outside to interact with the system itself from the grassroots.” According to entrepreneur, he saw how and why people lose tenders.

“Even the laws of PPADB framework I still have questions. Even the formula used by PPADB to evaluate the tenders I still have problems with it. I have long said it. PPADB Act is flawed. In fact all parastatals Acts are flawed.” In this instance he said PPADB Act is so loose that corruption is embedded with that Act and that there are clauses within the laws that actually facilitate corruption to be executed with impunity – while they are following the law. So all the parastatal Acts they must be recalled to parliament, he emphasised.

Still supports MP’s serving two terms; and political party funding

The well-known politician still believes in the motion that MP’s should serve two terms like the presidents. “Two terms is enough. It’s mainly because of good governance. Let’s give others chance. Why are we still circulating same people, board of Directors same people as well? I have spoken about this issue strongly in my reports,” he said. 

Masitara further asked “do you want to tell me now that there are no youths who are even educated enough on such issues to be trained or groomed into Board Directorship? We circulate the same old faces because we want to protect us wherever in these Ministries and Parastatals, which is not fair. So parliamentarians serving two terms is enough.”

On political party funding he pointed out that he still supports it.“I still support political party funding and scrutiny of the use of such funds. The current arrangement that every aspiring candidates should source their funding is a breeding ground for current and future corruption and state capture. Sponsors even shady ones want something in return.”

Masitara says opposition parties’ top members also corrupt

When asked why he didn’t join any of the opposition parties he said he thinks none of them is ready to govern. “I still feel that our opposition parties are not strong. I am not convinced about their direction. And I know some of them will join the BDP eventually. If I join them, I am even not yet clear if they will really allow me to fight corruption as a political expediency item. If they can will elections can they allow me to fight corruption?

Some of them are involved in corruption, they are implicated, Masitara implied while adding that the people will see as the controversial National Petroleum Fund (NPF), Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), Asset management cases unfold that opposition parties are also implicated.

“Some names will crop up. Others even their fathers were implicated in corruption then. Even questioned at some of the assets they have acquired/inherited right now. And if you can trace that to issues of money laundering those assets should be confiscated,” he pointed out.  According to the philanthropist, “So that’s why the best option for me is to be independent.”

On Boko, the UDC leader that he wants to dispose

Masitara said he does not entertain politics that attack other contenders. “Let me not de-campaign him. My style of leadership is not to de-campaign anyone. I can’t cast aspersions on their abilities. Let the people choose. Boko is a nice guy and very educated. I am also educated and exposed as well on the issue of corruption than all the candidates am standing against. I am well above them, he highlighted.

The former legislator said his campaign is at a different level and that Boko’s is also at a different level. “We are poles apart. It’s a divergent. They are not a tangent. Totally different parameters and angles.”  Masitara further said MP”s who have experience on oversight, where government fails to prosecute, and government must source external funding to prosecute some of these cases. “And we must bring back some cases in which shabby work was done because of our inability to investigate. Other countries are doing.”

Botswana’s lack of infrastructure is heart breaking

Despite being a diamond country which is most valued in the world, Botswana’s lack of infrastructure concerns Masitara. He said “I have always asked other MP’s what do we learn from other countries? Don’t we envy those countries like Japan? Look at their infrastructures. If you land in their airports you feel that sorrow.”

No attainment of vision 2036, knowledge based economy with corruption

Masitara said the country cannot attain Vision 2036 which aspires for a knowledge based economy and upper middle class – with corruption. He stressed to this publication “we cannot attain knowledge based economy if there is still corruption. People who are going to be servicing or issuing these tenders already have corruption underneath them.” 


Also fancies appointment to head corruption bodies

Even though he aspires to be an independent MP, Masitara fancies chances of appointment in government if he loses the elections. “You know if the president can appoint me now and ask me to oversee or head Governance and Investigations, with my qualifications I can stand in court of law as my evidence is admissible in a court of law. There is no one in parliament who can do this task. They don’t even know how to interrogate these issues. But I don’t blame them, this takes exposure and experience. If I were to go in government I know where to start, “he said.

He added that if he is appointed, No one will be spared or protected in the corruption drive. He continued “If Masisi is serious and sincere about fighting corruption he cannot leave me out of the equation. Masisi administration must use my services wherever they want me to. Even if they can say to me stop contesting as an independent candidate I can. My most effective way of contributing is when am within the system. That’s where my passion lies.”

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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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