More contestants are continually expressing interest in filling the shoes of Member of Parliament (MP) for Moshupa/Manyana Mokgweetsi Masisi.
As the country’s Vice President Masisi is expected to step down as MP following his ascension to the presidency in April, as per automatic succession. Masisi who is also the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairman will on the 1st of April 2018 succeed President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama as his 10 year term prescribed by the constitution elapses. As the date draws nearer, his successors are in the wings.
One of the hopefuls to succeed him, Karabo Gare, seen as Masisi’s blue eyed boy highlighted to this publication exclusively in a recent interview that he was ready to contest, should there be need. This publication quoted him as saying: “I can confirm that should constituents find the need to send me to parliament to represent them at the by election expected soon, I can avail myself. I am more than ready to take up the assignment but only when the VP steps down from the role of the Member of Parliament (MP).”
Gare is not only the aspirant who has “hinted” on his imminent candidature, another contender is Lentswe Mosanako, a former two time councillor at Moshupa East. Speaking to WeekendPost in a separate exclusive interview this week, Mosanako confirmed that: “yes it is true I have high interest and yes I mean really high interest in contesting in Moshupa/Manyana constituency.”
The former BDP Southern Regional Chairman went on to state that it has always been his plans to stand for the MP position in the next General Election. He highlighted that “even if the VP was not stepping down from the MP seat to become the president, I was still going to contest in 2019.”
“I was intending to go and stand against him (Masisi). He has always said anyone can and should feel free to stand against him in party primaries. Whoever qualifies should stand if they so wish. It was not even about the by election,” he asserted. However Mosanako pointed out that Gare whom he mentioned as a political novice, took him by surprise. “Who thought Gare would stand?” he asked rhetorically.
In terms of whether Gare is a threat, he maintained that, the latter “is a political novice. He is just a normal BDP member. I don’t know him in political circles. He is a new comer. But he qualifies to stand. And I am not in any way implying that he cannot be a crowd puller at the rallies and pull a surprise.” Although Gare is seen as a favourite and more closer to Masisi who may have influence in who succeeds him, Mosanako maintained that the VP should not take sides.
“You see I don’t have any problem with VP Masisi. I support him to be president. He is my leader. But he should not make a mistake that I hear doing rounds in the village. I hear rumours that he may be having a favourite candidate amongst us, being Gare to be specific,” the outspoken ex-Councillor warned.
He maintained that the party chairman should not pronounce on his preferred candidate to succeed him and as a party leader he should instead wait for whoever is elected at the primary elections either Gare, Mosanako or whoever will emerge victorious – and support them.
Trying to be careful on the issues to avoid chances of being vetted out before Primary Elections, he explained that as a former soldier he is more disciplined and to avoid raffling some feathers he emphasised that they should be equally respected as fellow party members.
On Gare’s alleged association with the VP, Mosanako stated that the BDP constitution does not make mention that as candidates you inform anyone, besides the party, to give you a leeway to stand for elections. “It is not binding to inform an incumbent or anyone that I would like to contest,” he said. “Only when the writ of elections is out, that every party member in good standing should be free to throw in their names in the ring signalling their intention to contest and to campaign freely.”
On whether he is not at a disadvantage in the face of reports and strong speculation on the ground that Masisi supports his competitor, Mosanako said it would rather put him (Mosanako) on the advantage. “Yes it’s an advantage,” before adding that “but I do not believe the VP can do that because he is preaching unity. If he does that he will be tearing the constituency apart.”
The BDP activist explained that all the candidates that are contesting in the constituency must know that they should not expect anyone from a high office to endorse them against other opponents. “We do not want leaders who divide us and we must not let elections divide us as well. We must know that whoever will emerge victorious, won due to a free and fair campaign with no any other justification.”
When you stand for elections, Mosanako said electorates must assess you on your own merit and no candidate should therefore campaign on the notion that a predecessor supports them as it brings division in the party and at the end it may be seen as not reflecting the will of the people.
He stated: “it should be fair and square, with integrity and credibility. The losers should not find any excuse like a leader has a preferred candidate, or there were no membership cards given to their followers to vote at the party primaries and the like. Voters roll must be clear, done procedurally and appropriately without bias to registration of names.” Mosanako, who lost the Council Primary Elections in 2013, also said “since am always home, and closer to the community, I hear residents’ concerns about the party, government and their social lives. We must know the problems faced by the constituents.”
Mosanako said he remains cautious that other candidates may enter the race as the day of the by elections draws closer by the day. When quizzed on chances of BDP retaining the seat, he said “in my observation, the Moshupa/Manyana constituency is marginal. There is no party that can claim stronghold.”
So, he added, whoever wins the BDP primary elections must work hard and know that bloodthirsty opponents await them. “It will not be easy to retain the seat; we will have to launch our entire arsenal,” he highlighted. Meanwhile the BDP branch Chairman in Moshupa Manyana constituency Bushi Tshiping, said until the Vice President becomes president in April 1st, making the MP portfolio in the area vacant then the party Central Committee will authorize instigation of campaign.
“Masisi has not bid us farewell yet. He has not yet said we should look for a replacement,” Tshiping said. In the last elections (2014), Masisi triumphed by a convincing 6831 lead against Ngaka Monageng of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) who got 3231 votes while Benny Stegling of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) got 2557 votes.
In 2009 Masisi had again emerged victorious by 6374 votes while BCP attained 1519, the BNF 1219 and an Independent candidate 60 votes while another Independent candidate managed 72 votes. The by election will be held approximately 6 months after Masisi is inaugurated as president – before end of this year.
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.
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.
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.