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China threatens Botswana’s diamonds

First it was the South-China Sea controversy and now it is the impending visit by the Dalai Lama to Botswana, and China is not amused. The Asian giant is telling Botswana to block the Dalai Lama’s visit.

Relations between Botswana and China have taken yet another knock as China disapproves of Botswana’s decision to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Botswana and give talk as a guest at a three day conference entitled “Botho/Ubuntu: A Dialogue with the Dalai Lama Spirituality, Science and Humanity”, scheduled for 17-19 August 2017.

Chinese officials at the time of the controversy surrounding the South China Sea had adopted a diplomatic approach to Botswana’s criticism of their country. The diplomatic relations between Gaborone and Beijing which had been simmering for sometime had boiled over last week after Botswana issued a press statement accusing China of imposing “its power over others to make claims because of “its economy or military.”

But on the question of the Dalai Lama, China is very clear, it is uncompromising and “Botswana will pay a heavy price should the renowned spiritual leader be allowed to visit.” Botswana government has insisted that the Spiritual Leader is indeed visiting Botswana but not on official ticket. It states President Lt Gen Ian Khama could attend the Conference should his schedule allow.

Statistics show that Botswana’s export to China grew from US$2.86 million in 2004 to US$65 million in 2009. During March 2017, exports destined to Asia were valued at P2, 177.1 million, representing 53.4 percent of total exports (P4, 076.8 million) hence China accounting for the bulk of the exports. India received exports amounting to P592.3 million, 14.5 percent of total exports during the month. Israel and UAE followed with 11.2 percent (P457.9 million) and 10.6 percent (P431.4 million) respectively, of total exports during March 2017. Singapore and Hong Kong received 9.8 percent (P399.2 million) and 5.3 percent (P215.9 million) respectively of total exports during the period under review.

This is where China is said to be threatening to hurt Botswana should the Dalai Lama be allowed entry into Botswana. Botswana economy is dominated by diamonds, they are the biggest revenue earner. The major commodity exported to Asia is Diamonds, representing 99.7 percent (P2, 170.5 million) of all goods exported to the region during March 2017.

Why does China despise the Dalai Lama so much?

China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist and a political trouble maker, and the history latent in this distaste is convoluted and problematic. The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the traditional religious and temporal head of Tibetan Buddhists. He was made head of state at age 15 in 1950, the same year that Chinese troops occupied Tibet.

The Dalai Lama has held negotiations with Chinese officials on Tibetan self-rule with little success. In 1959, he fled Tibet for exile in India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. Over the years, the Dalai Lama has continued to lobby for self-rule in Tibet. Tibetans around the world revere him as their spiritual leader and cultural icon. He has traveled the globe, attending meditation conferences, giving speeches in universities and parliaments, and meeting people from all walks of life, from CEOs to Hollywood stars to heads of state. He received the Nobel peace prize in 1989.  Overseas, the Dalai Lama is a celebrated figure. In China, he is a despised troublemaker.

Botswana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has in the recent past called for introspection on the bilateral cooperation between Botswana and China to see how best they can move ahead in the journey of strategic partnership.
She had observed that 40 years signified a period of maturity hence the expression ‘life begins at 40’ and said this was an opportune time to reflect on the successes and challenges so that the two countries could chart a path to long lasting beneficial relations.

Speaking at the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Botswana and China in Gaborone on February 10, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Pelonomi Dr Venson-Moitoi said Botswana admired the great strides china had made in recent decades. China and Botswana relations can be traced to January 6, 1975 when the two countries formally established diplomatic relationship, which unveiled a new chapter for friendship and cooperation between the two.

For over 40 years, China-Botswana relations have been developing soundly and steadily on the basis of their traditional friendship, and the two countries’ peoples have benefited from the expanding cooperation in various fields. Growing economic and trade cooperation has served as the driving force in boosting bilateral ties between the two countries and the total trade volume between the two countries has jumped from less than US$ million in early 1980s to US$343 million in 2013, which is almost 700 times increase.
China has become the second largest consumer of Botswana’s diamonds; consuming 15 per cent of the total diamond output and said his country’s demand for Botswana’s diamonds is also growing by more than 10 per cent every year.

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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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