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New party is a regressive step – Saleshando

Leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Dumelang Saleshando is “not amused” with the sudden departure of some members of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) who this week announced the formation of a new party, Alliance for Progressives saying “it is a regressive step.”

“It’s a regressive step. It’s a drawback for opposition in Botswana,” Saleshando pointed out to Weekend Post on Thursday when pouring his heart out following the exit of ex BMD President Ndaba Gaolathe and his associates. This was subsequent to a delivery of a verdict by UDC top politburo which the new AP members say it failed to mediate appropriately. While refusing to state the exact registration date of the new party, the AP top activists have admitted that the party was undergoing the clandestine registration while the mediation was ensuing on the other hand – in parallel.  

“We have long seen that UDC’s Boko was getting partial towards us owing to his association with Advocate Sidney Pilane both as lawyers at courts who often act for one another and also with both doing business with Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) – which with much glare points to a conflict of interest,” one MP told this publication. He stressed that their decision was pre-meditated and that it is the most difficult decision to make lest to say “worth it.” In the mediation exercise, the Gaolathe camp were calling for a clear re-run for members to decide whom they want to lead the BMD following the disputed congress held at Bobonong in July.  

However in the verdict, the UDC pronounced a power sharing deal that they said would eventually lead to a re-run; this, notwithstanding that the 2 camps; one by Gaolathe and the other by Pilane do not see eye to eye. According to Saleshando, who also formed part of the verdict after they mediated on the BMD impasse, if there is any party that would celebrate the decision of the formation of the new party AP then it is the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) which will benefit most out of it. “The decision they took is not good for opposition but can only be good for BDP. Unless they want to help BDP win elections,” Saleshando insisted.

The BCP leader said he thinks that the decision was taken in haste. He told Weekend Post that he reads sinister moves: “I think comrades have been insincere. How come they came out of a verdict meeting with registration of certificate of the party? It shows they have long registered. Clearly they went to the mediation meeting while they had the party in hand.” The two time Gaborone Central law maker also observed that the talk of purple party has been around for some time even as the mediation was continuing.

“It demonstrates dishonesty and lack of faith. All the values they say they stand for, their conduct betrays those values. What integrity are they talking about if they undertook mediation on the other side while they continued with formation of the new party?” Saleshando fumed.

Saleshando also wants UDC to thwart launch of the new party

However Saleshando mentioned that he plans to lobby the UDC so that the former BMD members can be engaged further to hinder them from launching the new party. “My view is that it is not too late for the AP to reconsider the decision. In short we need to engage them. Between now and the launch, we can still get an agreement to avoid monumental blunder of forming another new party,” the ex Gaborone Central legislator told this publication.  

He emphasized that “we are too close to elections; they should choose whether they want to be with the rest of the opposition or the BDP. So for now, utmost priority for the UDC should be to make the AP come back to the UDC. It is worrying to defeat what people have tried to build all along.” According to Saleshando, he has listened to the 2 sides in the BMD impasse, and has realized that there are no fundamental differences except egos. “It’s a matter of egos, the 2 groups do not want to work together,” he stated.  

So I think, he said, they should still allow the proposal for UDC mediation to sink in while adding that if they think the verdict pronouncement needs improvement they can say so. “Kana we said the party should undertake power sharing deal – under supervision of UDC – and involve a professional mediator. That’s not a legal judgment; it is a solution to a political problem.” Saleshando warned that they should know that if you differ you engage further, and that you don’t walk away, you can’t walk away all the time, otherwise it would mean you will launch many parties on the way.

According to the BCP official who drew some lessons from 2014 when his party shunned opposition cooperation, he feared that if not engaged “the new party will result in vote split in 2019 General elections.” During this course of political activity, he said we understand that either the BCP or BNF out of good faith can take certain decisions that don’t help opposition course, and it’s for the other party to warn them on implications as they are doing to newly formed AP. According to Saleshando, the BCP has learnt the lesson of 1998 split from BNF and therefore understand the potential of AP departure from UDC. In 1999 after splitting from the BNF, the BCP performed dismally registering 4% of popular vote which was followed by 9% in 2004, then 16% in 2009 and recently 20% in 2014.

Boko and Saleshando later attacked new party

However, after the Weekend Post interview, Saleshando, together with Boko shot from the hip at a membership tour held at Civic Centre in Gaborone dismissing the new party AP. Saleshando implied that by forming the new party, Gaolathe and colleagues at AP were cry babies.  On the other hand, Boko was speaking in parables saying the new party has been formed and there is absolutely nothing that he can do as it has happened.

AP which is increasingly growing is expecting support from opposition Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Botswana National Front (BNF) Vice president Prince Dibeela, Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU). AP will compete with UDC and BDP at the 2019 General Elections. Meanwhile, a proponent of opposition cooperation, Boko’s legacy of uniting all the opposition parties to compete against BDP as one entity in 2019 general Elections is under threat following the entrance of a new player AP.  

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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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