The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama has complained that his Ministry is one of those which get the lowest budget every year despite being responsible for critical tasks, he remarked that part of the money given to the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) be diverted to his Ministry.
The Minister said priorities must be set right and deal with issues that affect the people first. Tshekedi’s request comes on the backdrop of DIS requesting an extra P15 million funds to pay suppliers; this is in addition to its P300 million budget for the 2016/2017 financial year. The P15 million will cover costs incurred during the BOT50 celebrations last year. Attempts by the opposition to block the supplementary request were blocked by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs.
“However, I must hasten to note with concern that, though responsible for such critical tasks, my ministry is one of those which get the lowest budget every year. I therefore urge this Honourable House to ensure that the importance of tourism sector is commensurate with the budget allocated to the Ministry for us to compete with the region and deliver as the future engine of growth in our economy,” he said when presenting his Ministry Budget this week.
Khama indicated that Botswana’s efforts towards economic diversification are dependent on the tourism sector which is the second engine of growth. He pointed out that his ministry puts a lot of effort towards developing and marketing new tourism products and ensuring that Botswana is an attractive destination.
“Further, for wildlife conservation, my ministry is responsible for improving the status of species, populations or ecosystem integrity to prevent extinction. The conservation activities are undertaken both within our boundaries and Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs).” According to the Minister the Ministry has established a data centre in collaboration with Statistics Botswana in order to address the problem of backlog on migration statistics. He said the analysis of 2010-2015 migration statistics is complete with preliminary results ready for use. The 2016 statistics are still being processed.
“However, my Ministry continues to face challenges in relation to funding for tourism statistics. Tourism statistics data collection requires a substantial budget given the large physical scale of the country; the large number of border posts; and the large number of business enterprises involved with tourists.”On citizen participation in the tourism industry, Khama said the Government continues to encourage Batswana to participate in the tourism industry by introducing tourism products that they can partake in.
To emphasise his Ministry’s continued under budgeting, Khama said it has been quite evident that, given the limited resources, compensation for property damaged by wildlife is not sustainable in the long run. He shared a budget allocation for compensation since 2014 which showed that in 2014/2015, P9 million was allocated for 5647 cases but the money needed for compensation was P16 million; In 2015/2016, P8.8 million was allocated for 5500 cases but P16 million was needed again; and in 2016/2017 financial year P4.4 million has been allocated for 5500 cases that need P14 million to compensate people. Khama’s ministry compensates farmers whose crops has been damaged by wild animals. "I think we should be very honest as a nation in terms of our priorities", Tshekedi Khama just told Parliament.
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.
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.