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UB don criticises ‘rushed’ key appointments

President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s swift decision to appoint key personnel, among them Director Generals of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), and of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) was ill-advised, according to University of Botswana academic, Leonard Sesa.  

Sesa who teaches Political Science at UB, is of the opinion that the appointments made by Masisi were rushed, therefore creating unnecessary enemies for him. According to Sesa, Masisi should have taken time to assess and make all changes after the 2019 general elections, due to be held in October.  “It is advisable that when making some of the major changes you should carry out thorough research on the new appointments making sure they are capable,” contended the UB don.

“Masisi could have just waited for the elections [general] to pass.  Look what he went through prior the congress [Kang], this somehow has a negative impact as it may create enemies unnecessarily.”After taking over the reins from Lt Gen Ian Khama at the beginning of April, Masisi unceremoniously fired the founding Director General of the DIS, Colonel Isaac Kgosi, and had him replaced with retired former BDF chief of staff, Brigadier Peter Magosi.

The decision raised suspicion on two prongs; first Col Kgosi was considered Khama most important official during his reign. Secondly his replacement. Brig Magosi was a man considered Khama’s enemy, having been dismissed from the army by the latter. Masisi’s appointments raised suspicions that he wanted to replace all key personnel associated with the Khama administration.

Recently, under again cloudy circumstances, DCEC chief, Bruno Paledi was transferred and replaced by one Brigadier Joseph Mathambo. Paledi was barely new into office, having been appointed to the post towards the fall of 2017 by Khama.  Sesa gave credit to the current administration noting that it is evident that they are doing a great job in trying to build strong relationships with the media.

“You have to admit and embrace that people are different. We have always advocated that we want to see our former [Khama] engaging and interacting with the media, we are only seeing him now after leaving, why couldn’t he capitalize on that during his time?  I believe that is when he could have heard Batswana’s cries and problems they face. Not now after his retirement through the very same platforms he could not engage,” he contended.

Sesa applauded Masisi on his efforts to interact with the media emphasising that this would work at his advantage and help him gain Batswana’s trust and support.  “This is what we expect in a liberal democracy, this is not new other former presidents engaged with media, and it was a bit of a shock to have Khama end this media engagements,” he said.

Since assuming office in April 2018, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has promised to run a consultative governance. Masisi’s chorus was a “clean up campaign, ” which would later see many people being removed from positions, replaced with his trusted ones and later launch some raids amongst which they deemed corrupt. Masisi has repeatedly said one of his aim is to fight corruption and to take to book every alleged perpetrator.

Masisi has said he intend to protect the country and fight corruption in the country, adding that in attaining that they would work closely with the media. New recruits in Masisi administration; Brig Magosi and Brig Mathambo, who now head DIS and DCEC respectively, two institutions known for the secrecy, have opened up to the media.

NEW DCEC CHIEF TARGETS BIG GUN

 “In this position, you don’t get appointed by anybody except the highest office which is the office of the president. I was appointed by the president himself,” Mathambo told media this week. “And I promise you, I am so determined to fight corruption in this country. I am going to resuscitate cases without sparing any name.” Mathambo also highlighted that already he is living in fear because of his determination to fight corruption.

“You know when you investigate someone; they would wish you all bad things. They would wish you could be hit by a train even where there is no railway line. I have already started seeing faces which I have never seen before as I drive about in town, but this will not stop me from fighting corruption.” Mathambo also pointed out that he is aware of some of the cases that have been shelved due to favouritism, had the cases resumed.

He also emphasised that he is well aware that some of the cases have been left unattended to on purpose by the previous investigators, stating that it was vital for them to change the way the old administration have been carrying out its investigations,.
“Relationships mess up investigations, having friends who are later called to task can have a negative impact on the outcomes of investigations.”

He further highlighted that he will not continue doing nothing when billions go missing on a daily basis.  “Of recent we were told to cut our budget by 4 percent because there is no money. Corruption is really bad and requires a certain posture, it comes with character. If I sit here and continue doing nothing the country will continue to be at risk. I must tell you today that I am going to fight hard with my team to fight against corruption. We are not going to be sparing any names,” he said.

Mathambo assured the media that all money laundering cases including the CMB scandal, National petroleum fund, BMC, Pula steel, BCL were being attend to on a daily basis and that investigations are going well. “We will be taking a lot of interest in cases of public interest such as that of BCL, Pula steel, BMC. We all tax payers here and we all know what’s it is like when you pay your due diligence and another person collects and abuses it,” Mathambo concluded.

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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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Dow wants GBV culprits isolated

26th October 2020
Unity Dow

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.

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