The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader, Advocate Duma Boko was not so kind in his response to President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s valedictory State of Nation Address (SONA) as he indicated that the outgoing President was not a faithful servant of the constitution.
Boko, who is the leader of opposition in parliament said, Khama’s decision to leave office at the end of mandatory 10 year presidential tenure limit is probably the only time the president will be willing to bend to the demands of the country’s constitution. “It remains for me to thank President Khama that he has himself assured us that he will leave the office of President at the expiration of his term. He undertakes to respect and uphold the dictates of our Constitution,” Boko said.
“If he does, it will certainly be the most important act of fidelity to the Constitution of his entire tenure as President. Otherwise he has had to be kept under restraint by the Courts on many of his attempts to subvert the Constitution.” Khama’s administration has had unpopular court wars, most importantly with the trade unions following the historic 2011 public strive. The most recent, and perhaps most controversially was the decision to challenge the parliamentary standing orders with regard to the election of the Speaker of National Assembly and endorsement of vice president in parliament.
Khama had sought to compel Members of Parliament (MPs) to raise their hands, as opposed to secret ballot, to elect and endorse his choice for Vice President. The High Court and later Court of Appeal ruled against him. Another controversial constitutional battle was the appointment of judges to serve in the judiciary. Khama had initially ignored the recommendation by Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to appoint Omphemetse Motumise to the bench. The High Court and later Court of Appeal ruled against him, forcing him to reluctantly appoint Motumise after a bout of frustration.
Boko said, Masisi, who takes over the reins at the beginning of April next year will inherit an economy whose growth is slow, jobless, pro-rich and fragile due in part to slow progress on the diversification of both the economy and markets, and weak external competitiveness. “You are handing over an economy in worse shape than you found it in 2008. Whilst we appreciate the positive sovereign credit rating, this macro level indicator should not take our focus from the economy’s dismal performance at the microeconomic level, where firms and households are facing difficult odds,” said the Botswana National Front (BNF) leader.
“Business closures have become all too common, household incomes are depressed, real wages are declining, household debt is rising, the ranks of the unemployed are swelling, vulnerability to poverty is growing, and a growing share of our population has become dependent on the safety net and Ipelegeng. We catalogue these because they provide an unanswerable reproach to the contrived reality the President sought to present.”
Boko also urged the government to challenge the country’s economists – in government, academia and the private sector – to develop an alternative model for this economy, re-examine our economic policies and strategies, and inject a measure of creativity into policy design. “The current dispensation, in which we muddle along seeking to spend our way to success, and we throw money at problems, is neither working nor sustainable, because the days of rich mineral revenue yields belong to our past,” he said.
“Yet, this is exactly what successive BDP governments have been doing, all the while mouthing platitudes about economic diversification and transformation.” Boko said these indicators suggest that the economy is not working for the average person, hence Botswana is the third most unequal society in the world. “This government has failed on job creation, poverty eradication, economic inclusion and the expansion of opportunity for our burgeoning youth population,” he observed. “Whereas vision 2016 envisaged full employment and zero statistical poverty by 2016, nearly one in five Batswana are unemployed, and an almost equivalent number subsists below the poverty line.”
Boko observed that during the tenure of Khama’s government, formal employment grew at a slouchy 1.5 per cent per annum, with the highest annual job growth rates registered by public enterprises (4.6%) and Ipelegeng (3.4%). From 2011 to 2015, enrolment in Ipelegeng rose by 28 percent! In the private sector, which accounts for 56 per cent of formal employment, the rate of job growth averaged 1.2 per cent per annum between 2011 and 2015.
“Yet, over this period, the labour force grew at an annual rate of 3.5%. Juxtapose labour force growth and the rate of job growth and you arrive at the terrifying conclusion that we have an annual job growth deficit of two percentage points,” he said. “The message behind these figures is unambiguous. There are no jobs for the unemployed and the youth who leave colleges with diplomas and degrees hoping for a job. Workers cannot expect wage growth. Our collective wellbeing is eroding.”
The most recent rate estimates put unemployment at 17.7% of the labour force in 2015/16. That amounts to 149,300 unemployed active Batswana job seekers out of a total labour force of 844,050. Add discouraged job seekers and the rate of unemployment rises to about 30 per cent. Remove Ipelegeng from the employment figures and the gravity of Botswana’s joblessness and exclusion becomes more apparent.
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.
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.