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Balopi, Dada meet Khama

In the aftermath of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Palapye retreat, the party’s Secretary General Mpho Balopi and Treasurer Satar Dada in the cover of darkness have been holding meetings with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama separately to pledge alliance to him.

Balopi who is reported to have shown a cold shoulder towards Khama during the retreat by refusing to acknowledge him on his arrival had later visited Khama at his office.  “He told Khama he is still loyal to him in his fight against President Mokgweetsi Masisi.  Balopi pretended to show remorse and said his actions were caused by President Masisi, saying he gives him instructions to talk ill of the former president,” said a source close to the events.

Balopi’s recent visits to Khama is seen as a strategic move on his part after he learnt that the pro-Masisi camp intends to drop him as SG of the BDP in the upcoming Elective Congress scheduled for July.  “This alone made Balopi trace his footsteps back to Khama who was instrumental to descending him from an ordinary member of the party, to the SG position. Prior to the developments, Balopi did not mince his words when he got to choose who he supports in the fight between Masisi and Khama.  He was explicit saying ‘BDP is bigger than Khama’, adding that the former president should toe the line.”  

“But with recent events sensing a broader Khama momentum nationally and the intruding of Khama in his parliamentary area of Gaborone North by conducting charitable programs in his constituency, this has gotten Balopi trying much to endear himself to Khama.  And this is typical of Balopi, he always wants to be where the honey is.  He is spreading his legs in the event that a Khama faction comes in to power,” said a BDP activist. Those within the new Khama circle have rebuffed Balopi’s efforts and blamed Khama for entertaining Balopi. 

They opine that Khama is making the same prior mistakes of entertaining people who have questionable characters, and only out there to use him. “There is no genuineness in Balopi’s visits. Balopi is an unwanted child by the Masisi camp, and now all of a sudden he remembers Khama. We are going to shield Khama of opportunists and we want sincere people. The man has been lied to by many.  It is time for Khama to fix his legacy, and mend fences with people he wrongly hurt by being used by people like the likes of Balopi,” said a Khama aide.

This publication also learnt that in the same week, businessmen Satar Dada visited Khama as well.  “Being a shrewd businessman, Dada called for peace between Khama and Masisi and that he distances himself from some of the actions of Masisi. He said he is embarrassed by some of the current administration’s decisions and questioned the judgement of Masisi. He is quoted as saying, ‘the truth is we have a problem with Masisi.  He is behaving erratic, and no one ever knows his next move’”.

Khama is thought to have felt hard done by many people he went out of his way to uplift.  “Not only Masisi, but many people within the BDP. Kitso Mokaila is one, and so has been Dada.  And Khama finds this as a betrayal of the highest magnitude.  But those close to Khama say he was warned of many people.  It is for surprise he did not even know the man he made his VP and eventually his successor.  All he relied on was cork eyed views of Isaac Kgosi which had his self-interests,” said an ally of Khama.

Dada, who has always rose above factions throughout his tenure at the party is the currently longest serving BDP Central Committee member, having been party treasurer since 1995. Sources indicated that former party secretary generals, Jacob Nkate and Kentse Rammidi are being considered to replace Balopi in Masisi camp. Nkate, who contested the secretary general against Balopi in 2017 after a fallout with Masisi camp, recently closed ranks with Masisi.

Nkate, a former co-leader of A-Team faction served as party secretary general 2007-2009. Prior to that, he was party deputy secretary general from 2003-2007. Meanwhile Rammidi, who served as Nkate’s understudy between2007-2009, briefly served as secretary general from 2011, before resigning from BDP to join opposition. Rammidi returned to BDP last year, shortly after Masisi became president. 

Contacted for comment, Balopi said as SG of the BDP, Khama is his former president, “and his office is a public office,” he said. He also noted that he has a president and is loyal to him. “Whatever I did under the leadership of Khama I will do so under Masisi. We need each other at BDP.” “There is no camp under President Masisi. President Masisi is the leader of both the ruling BDP and Botswana. We are all under his leadership,” he said. 

“Balopi is the SG of the BDP elected to the position of SG by the congress, democratically. There is no undemocratic and unconstitutional process that can reverse this. Those who are peddling all the lies are badly advised and the prophets of doom driven by individualism, hate and love for instability.” Balopi said he served the BDP under the leadership of former President Khama to the best of his ability and that he was loyal to both the leadership and the BDP.

“I am currently serving under the leadership of President Masisi and I am still very loyal to both the BDP and its leadership. Those who are peddling these issues and causing the current confusion are the usual suspects and icons of instability,” he said. “They have to engage me directly and stop being cowards by running to the media.” Balopi went on to state that while people might be going there for different reasons, his visit is solely because of the BDP. We have to respect the elders and need not be seen causing divisions.

For his part, Khama confirmed to this publication on Thursday that he met with both Balopi and Dada at his office on several occasions. “Balopi came to my office to see me. I understand he is under too much pressure at his constituency, and he needs support. Remember I am the one who made him what he is today,” Khama said, stressing that though many BDP activists were still loyal to him he does not want to be seen causing divisions within the BDP.

 The former president also stated that he met with Dada several times at his office. He said, as a party treasurer, Dada cannot be perceived as taking sides. “’Dada cannot be on Mma Venson-Moitoi’s side by virtue of him being a party treasure. He is obviously on the side of Masisi.”

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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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