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Mabeo, Molefhi charm trade unions

The Minister responsible for Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Tshenolo Mabeo is efficiently doing President Mokweetsi Masisi’s bidding. This week he successfully charmed trade unions, a day before the Botswana contingent left for the 107th International Labour Conference (ILC).

Initially the furious unions were hell bent on Mabeo being hauled over hot coals for sitting on the recommendations suggested to the Botswana government by the International Labour Organization (ILO) based in Geneva, Switzerland last year. However after the Thursday evening meeting which went “very very well,” the unions are at peace with the minister.

BOFEPUSU had reported the government at the ILO for what they regard as “trampling and disregarding the lawfully instituted Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC)” and also query the controversial amendment of the Trade Dispute Act. ILO representative, under the Freedom of Association branch, Keren Curtis also visited Botswana to meet the tripartite structure to follow up on the BOFEPUSO letter reporting key violations of workers’ rights in the country.

The tripartite organizations included the government, trade unions and Business Botswana. The objective of the meeting was for the ILO representative to consult with local stakeholders on the matter. In a meeting held this week to prepare for the Geneva meeting, Mabeo took time to cool down the union leaders before the conference.

“I have told them (unions) that I’ am a new minister since April 1st and whatever which has been dragging should be dusted off and we should be able to open a new chapter. I ‘am now engaging and I will continue to. The minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi was also there assuring unions of his ministry’s support as you know the two ministries work hand in hand with the workers,” Mabeo said in an interview.

While unions’ representatives were still elated by the development, Mabeo informed them of another great development. “I have informed cabinet and already there is a circulating memo on various ministries regarding the amendment of the Trade Dispute Act bill as well as Public Service Act. They only learnt about it at the meeting and they were pleased,” Mabeo said.As part of the recommendation from last year’s meeting the government was told to revisit the two acts which were labelled draconian by the labour unions.

Among other issues unions were against making almost every cadre an essential service, a move which effectively curtailed workers’ rights. This according to the Minister should they be given a stage at the meeting they will inform ILC over the development which has been given thumbs up by the unions.

Mabeo, as one of the government representative was told by the Committee of Application of Standards (CAS) last year to form working committee made up of the tripartite representatives with experts from ILO to review the trade dispute act. “The committee was formed which is a good thing but the government was reluctant to review the act which to us was the most paramount thing,” BOFEPUSO Secretary General Tobokani Rari said.

For the very first time as Mabeo put it, the Botswana delegation has shared notes before the ILC kick starts. This is important as Botswana will appear as a united force at the meeting especially after embarrassing scenes of hostility by the unions last year. “We agreed to share the notes as Botswana, but we will do it while there before congress to avoid misunderstandings,” Rari confirmed.  

After a deadlock ensued as to who will lead the workers delegation last week, Mabeo convened the two federations, BFTU and BOFEPUSU encouraging them to work for one common goal. At the end it was agreed that BOFEPUSU will lead the delegation. At the last year’s conference, BFTU led the delegation. The last batch of Botswana delegation which will be led by BOFEPUSU will leave today for the 107th International Labour Conference slated for the 28th to 8th of June at Geneva Switzerland.

Apart from failing to review the law, Rari said Botswana has failed to meet a number of deadlines set by the ILO while taking too long to respond to some of the demands by the international labour movement. With the Trade Disputes act unions are calling for the revision of Section 78 which puts a condition to unduly influence who should represent workers at the Bargaining Council.

Such conduct is contrary to the Article 3 of the Convention 87 of the ILO which restricts governments from enacting laws which prescribe who should be elected by employees to lead the unions. Trade unions should be free to conduct their affairs without governmental interference, unions posit.

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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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