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Khama snubs DRC opposition leaders

President Lt Gen Ian Khama has turned down request by Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) opposition leaders to meet him over the political turmoil in the country.


This publication can authrotatively reveal that a letter from Engagement for Citizenship and Development (ECIDE), one of the opposition parties in DRC,  which was routed through BDP’s office of the Secretary General had requested for a meeting with Khama to discuss issues pertaining to among others, establishing bi-lateral relations between the two parties. The objective of the request for a meeting was also to disccuss the DRC political crisis which is directly linked to the country’s president, Joseph Kabila’s refusal to leave office after the expiry of his term.


Contacted for comment, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane confimred that they have seen and discussed the letter, of which the party, President Khama in particular was not comfortable with meeting an opposition party from another country. “Khama as is common practice does not meet with foreign opposition. We get many requests,” he said.


“His view is how would we as the BDP react if other presidents met Botswana opposition.” The BDP and Botswana Government are known to have broken this rule however, when they had flitation with Zimbabwe’s Movement forn Democratic Change (MDC) at the height of Zimbabwe’s political crisis.


Last year ECIDE leader, Martin Fayulu exclusively told Weekend Post in a telephone interview facilitated by one of his associates currently in Botswana that it is imperative that Khama comes out publicly to condemn the violence and lead a process which would result in successful mediation. “We want a facilitator, someone who is credible, has moral authority and is respected around the world to lead the negotiation process. We believe Botswana can play a role is searching for such a person,” he said.


“The United States and Europe have imposed sanctions. But nobody in Africa is doing anything about the DRC situation. We want Botswana to take a leadership role in resolving the matter by rallying other African countries to take action.” Fayulu has revealed that the opposition in DRC has lost respect in the country’s elections commission and wants its leader to leave office.


Last year ECIDE rejected a proposed dialogue as they insist that dialogue's current facilitator, Edem Kodjo; a former chairman of the African Union (AU) is not credible and is disposed towards President Kabila. Other opposition parties joined hands with Fayulu’s ECIDE in setting pre-conditions for participating in the dialogue, including freeing political prisoners and lifting bans on several TV stations.


The troubled country saw a violent uprising last year, as multitudes thronged the streets to protest against President Joseph Kabila’s intention to stay in office beyond his constitutional term. The country’s electoral commission has failed to issue a writ for elections, which should be done 90 days before elections. Kabila’s presidential term was scheduled to come to an end in November last year at but Kabila cling to power. “He is playing games with delaying tactics because he knows he will be a loser in the end,” he said.


The 31 December political accord, brokered in good faith by the Catholic Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (Cenco), is said to be the only viable blueprint for political stability in the DRC. It calls for elections by the end of 2017, no third mandate for Kabila and the formation of a new government, led by a prime minister issued from the ranks of the Rassemblement de l’opposition (Rassop), the country’s largest political opposition alliance – led until his death on 1 February by Etienne Tshisekedi


The ECIDE leader, who survived military attacks last year, had expressed confidence that Botswana can play a major role as a game changer in DRC. He lauded former President Sir Ketumile Masire’s involvement in the DRC political crisis as a facilitator between 2000 and 2003. Masire, a worldwide respected statesman played a major role in calming a political situation in the DRC, which later helped the country draw up a new constitution which was accepted by all the country.


Fayulu is among those who have been harassed by Kabila’s security agents, and was arrested earlier last year following his involvement in a peaceful protest aimed at dissuading Kabila from attempting to stay beyond his constitutional term. Scores of citizens are reported to have been killed for protesting against Kabila’s refusal to leave power, while ECIDE’s office was destroyed in the process.  Recently, former President Festus Mogae was involved in South Sudan’s mediation talks, as the country was plunged in political crisis amid warring political opponents in the country.


Botswana is known to be a beacon of democracy, peace and stability in Africa and its foreign policy under the presidency of Khama took a major shift in dealing with leaders who refuse to leave power.  Botswana has condemned Burundi’s government which earlier this year was embroiled in political crisis as President Pierre Nkurunziza refused to leave power at the end of his term. A number of people died in the protest which ensued, but Nkurunziza remained in office without a political solution. Khama last year had the courage to call the ageing Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe to leave power, because in his opinion, he (Mugabe) had become a burden to the entire SADC region.

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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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