With just a little over a year before the much awaited crucial 2019 General Elections, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader Duma Boko seems unfazed about the state of affairs within the coalition and is as adamant as ever they will win.
This is notwithstanding the fact that like in 2014, a part of the coalition has pulled out. In 2014, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) pulled out of the conglomerate of opposition parties under UDC; and this year, the coalition bore a splinter party of the Botswana Movement of Democracy dubbed Alliance for Progressives (AP). AP seems set to face UDC and ruling Botswana Democratic Change (BDP) at the polls.
The UDC President told WeekendPost in an exclusive interview in Gaborone this week that “there is absolutely no doubt, we are going to win the next 2019 General Elections”. Boko however maintained that, “not alone but together with others because ultimately it’s about coming together and winning (which we are going to win) – hell or high waters. Make no mistake about that.”
According to Boko, “UDC is rolling at the moment and it is unstoppable. That’s what I can say. I don’t want to pronounce on any other person. And when I talk about the UDC I mean everyone.” So, the question of whether “I will step down as promised if the UDC doesn’t win,” he says about losing elections in 2019, “does not arise but in any case I have already made a pronouncement on that (to step down after then).” “We are winning elections in 2019 so we will be serving this country in different capacities,” he said confidently.
However Boko also told this publication that there will be challenges along the way; as they expect that to happen, and so when these challenges come or people differ and disagree it doesn’t mean there is or will be disintegration in the party. In his alleged difference with some BNF Central Executive Committee members in the mold of party Vice President Prince Dibeela, Gantsi North legislator Noah Salakae whom it is understood accuses the BNF leader of running the party almost like a remote control and having no regard for process and procedure, he clarified that he strictly follows the constitution as is.
“There are no differences whatsoever. BNF President exercises certain powers given or vested to him by the constitution of the party and he uses those powers judiciously,” Boko justified. He then went on to point out that he is a thinker and thrives on engagement. “I am a thinker. I am by habit, training and practice, a lawyer and a jurist. I thrive on engagement. That’s my life blood. So when I get engaged by whomever and you think this man in under siege, no, I am actually having fun.
That’s when am at my best when I enjoy myself the most. Because I know, either the views I hold will prevail or as I would have assessed them or engage with anybody on them because I know I will prevail. I know I have the skills to prevail, the temperament to prevail. But also if my views turn out to be weak, I embrace the stronger view points and life moves on.”
Boko gave an example of BNF having experienced turmoil during his tenure. So he said at the time BNF had to go through a process of refinement and cleansing for it to be in the UDC – “it had to shed some baggage.” According to Boko, the BNF did that otherwise they could not have entered this process. It had to purify itself and go through a process of propagation on a grander scale and that’s what’s going through at the UDC, he highlighted.
Boko emphasised that the matter has to be about the substance of what “we are offering and not the personalities”. “People come and go. Principles must abide. That’s what matters. I can go, anytime. But the principles from which I stood will inform those who come after. It’s not about Boko.” He also stressed that opposition in Botswana is not bewitched. “It is just fine. Contradiction is the very essence of things. It’s about refinement,” he said.
So, UDC does not need AP?
According to Boko, AP should consider joining the UDC because opposition parties are currently under one umbrella. “If AP is an opposition in Botswana, they are enforced by the circumstances we find ourselves in, to join other opposition parties under the Umbrella (UDC). UDC is a conglomeration of opposition parties. Any serious opposition party must become part of the UDC. That one is not in doubt.”
The Leader of Opposition in parliament continued: “but as I said they (AP) have only just set up so they are still trying to find their bearing as well, so as soon as they have done, they will engage us as we are always open as UDC. For them to be admitted into the UDC there has to be motivation, we are ever ready to receive and embrace.”
In terms of whether UDC was ready to give out some constituencies to AP if they opted to join it, Boko said he was not ready to give out any information to that effect because the time had not yet come. However, he said when issues presented themselves they will examine them at that time, considering the prevailing circumstances at the time as well as the best interest of the organisation.
“These are what will determine how we react. So I cannot stand here now and say to you that this is what we will do. I don’t pre-judge. I am always open minded. I am always adaptable. When matters present themselves I look at the prevailing circumstances at the time and then make a call.”
The Gaborone Bonnington North legislator however said that since AP was just establishing itself, he could not fairly assess whether they are strong or not, and whether they will be a threat to them, should they decide to remain outside the UDC. “I’m waiting to see what they are made of,” he said.
The UDC leader opines that journalists are highly sensitive and says they must not think they are immune to criticism. “You journalists must subject yourselves to the most critical self examination because when we subject you to that rigorous examination you will then appreciate that we are not malicious. We don’t want any mediocrity in a journalist or anyone including politicians,” he pointed out.
He said this country will be better served by cutting edge journalists, “not people who masquerade to tell us their views and sentiments and have no regard for journalists who doesn’t respect the craft and ethics of journalists. If you a strong journalist who deals in facts, figures, ask pertinent questions, probes every leader you are my man.”
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.