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Motion on Direct Election of President to be shelved

The controversial motion that was passed by parliament recently on the direct election of the president will take some time before it is implemented, and this will be long past the 2019 General Elections, Weekend Post has learnt.  

The disputed motion was brought by the maverick and controversial Member of Parliament for Nata/Gweta constituency, Polson Majaga and approved by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary party caucus. However it later faced a strong resistance from members of the cabinet including President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane. Tsogwane even went a step further and rebuked Majaga for bringing the motion to parliament floor without the blessing of both cabinet and president.

Speaking to Weekend Post outside parliament buildings this week the Minister responsible for the Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofho Molefhi confirmed that the disputed motion will take some while before implementation. He also insisted that it will not even see the light in the approaching 2019 General Elections citing wrong timing. “Everyone is agreeable that the passed motion cannot happen this year.  It is just wrong timing, and bearing in mind the noise it would raise as it’s an election year,” the minister told this publication.

Molefhi said the ruling party legislators especially cabinet Ministers only object to the motion with regard to the timing. “That is all people are complaining about, just the timing, even myself, I was very clear in parliament that this motion will not be implemented this year.” He further stressed that it practically cannot work particularly as it includes amending the law, consulting and doing public education and therefore “we cannot walk people blind folded into a new electoral system with few months left to the General Elections.”  

According to Molefhi, Batswana if they are to go that direction they will have to be conscious of what they are doing; what process are involved; what are the likely outcomes that can be there, and for such outcomes how do we mitigate the consequences while stressing “those are the things that we should consider.”

The Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration cautioned that following the approval, there is need to look at the entire clauses in the constitution and those at the Electoral Act in terms of how they can be amended so that they are in harmony. “How are we going to do public education on this and what are the implications on IEC in terms of its capacity. In short those to me are our real concerns with regard to the motion,” Molefhi highlighted.

The Selibe Phikwe East legislator also observed that many motions always pass in parliament as the process of implementation often drags too long as it’s a naturally tedious process. He pointed out that there is a committee in parliament given the responsibility on making assurances that will monitor the implementation of motions which has been passed through parliament. The committee, Molefhi said will then check with the relevant Ministries to see how far on working with its implementation.

He highlighted that it’s up to them to see how to prioritise the motions passed at parliament and in turn they push the Executive to follow through. The Minister explained that the clause in the constitution with regard to the direct election of the president is not an entrenched clause or provision that warrants a referendum. There are prescribed clauses that warrants referendum because they are entrenched, but this particular provision – of election of the president – is not, he clarified.

On his part Gaborone Bonnington North lawmaker Advocate Duma Gideon Boko who was invited into the conversation as a law Advocate of repute and competence also told Weekend Post in an interview that the motion does not need a referendum. Boko stated: “if the effect of any amendment to the constitution is to affect a retrenched provisions then a referendum is automatic. But in this case it is not.”

The opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President emphasised that the said motion concerning the election of the president is therefore not among those provisions which are entrenched. “So with this one, they will be crafted and we will see how to change them for direct election of the president. Also at the Electoral Act,” the Gaborone Bonnington North stated.

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Seretse, Kgosi may walk free

30th October 2020

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.


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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