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WUC moves to retrench hundreds

The Botswana government is said to have learned a lesson from the sudden closure of BCL mine which lead to severe emotional breakdown amongst axed miners and is trying to avoid falling into the same trap by putting in place psychological support ahead of the looming mass retrenchment of Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) employees.


In Selibe Phikwe this past week, cabinet Minister, Nonofo Molefhi told residents of New-stands that WUC will scale down its workforce in the coming weeks and that the retrenchment exercise will be done over a few months. “Because of the unplanned shutdown of BCL we were not prepared for psycho-social fatalities hence there was no counseling and psychological guidance put in place to prepare the workers of the wrath coming,” he said, “We dismally failed in that area.”


According to Molefhi, for any future retrenchments or restructuring that is to occur, which is well planned and known, necessary emotional preparations will be put in place to ready workers for the loss of employment trauma. Molefhi shed some light to Phikwe residents that the next economic job bleeds is at the WUC. According to Minister Molefhi, Cabinet has approved Mmetla Masire’s restructuring of the financial strapped corporation.


“Water Utilities is currently overstaffed and the number of employees at the company does not make business sense as there is idle human resource, which bears the company avoidable costs,” he explained. He further stipulated that the overstaffing at WUC is a result of the 2009 absorbing of employees from council authorities and water affairs, adding that due to transfer of all water services from Water Affairs Department to Water Utilities, Government did not want to discard the employees at the time but the status of economy and financial troubles at Water Utilities does not allow for such workforce noting that the company can no longer affordto pay employees salaries.


“Currently the company is completing a restructuring and remodeling analysis to inform exactly how the undertaking will be done,” said Molefhi. He added that by end of February 2019 the assigned consultants will present their finding to the Minister in charge as well as the board of directors of WUC.


“The preliminary counseling has already began to prepare company workers of the reality of job losses ahead.” The Selibe Phikwe East lawmaker observed that workers unions, insurance companies and other service providers are currently being consulted of the upcoming retrenchments at the country’s water supplier.


Information gathered by WeekendPost reveals that WUC will invite employees to apply for exit voluntarily before implementing forced retrenchment. According to sources at Sedibeng House, counseling of employees long commenced last year November after a communiqué from the Corporation Chief Executive, who is former President Sir QKJ Masire‘s son. This publication has it on good authority that almost one-third of Water Utilities employees will no longer be on Mmetla Masire’s payroll by April 2017.


Although Minister Molefhi was in denial of the analysis that the closure of BCL was a knout punch for WUC treasury, experts observe that BCL was Water Utilities’ single largest factory client from the private sector alongside another cash strapped Botswana Meat Commission. As of now Water Utilities   Corporation is one of BCL creditors and over 71 million pula was owed to Water Utilities at the time BCL limited was put under provisional liquidation.


Information gathered by this publication reveals that the move to rescale workforce and restructure the business model of Water Utilities is a plan by the government enclave to privatise water and sanitation services. According to a source close to the echelons of power, Ministers Sadique Kebonang and Prince Maele’s constant dual trips abroad are a quest to find lucrative investors who will be sold some of WUC’s assets and services.


During the commemoration of African Industrialization day last year in November at the town, Minister of Lands, Water and Sanitation, Maele, was quoted by this publication noting that his visit with Hon Kebonang to Vietnam and Sweden was to salvage investors in Minerals, energy and water related businesses.


The retrenchments at Water Utilities will add to 2016’s tremendous job losses.

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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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