The National Amalgamated Local Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) otherwise known as Manual Workers Union has again triumphed over President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama.
Khama and a coterie of other applicants in the matter including Gladys Kokorwe, Athalia Molokomme, Justices of Appeal Elijah Legwaila, Isaac Lesetedi, Stephen Gaongalelwe, John Foxcroft, John Cameron, Arthur Hamilton and Craig Howie had sought a stay of execution relating to the operation of a court order which declared unconstitutional, the appointment of CoA Justices to multiple three year contract extensions.
Justice Abednigo Tafa last week Friday handed down a judgement which struck down as unconstitutional, section 4 of the CoA act which allowed the president to determine the number of Justices of Appeal. It further stated that the appointment of Justices of Appeal on more than a three year contract as has been practice for many years, is unconstitutional. He further struck down the appointment of Justices of Appeal other than the Judge President as unconstitutional. Khama and company had sought a stay of execution as a matter of urgency which Tafa dismissed this Thursday.
In “general observations” he made before issuing his ruling, Tafa stated that the original case whose success resulted in the current incapacitation of the CoA, contrary to media portrayal, it was not a contest between Johnson Motshwarakgole and President Khama. Instead, he said that in his understanding, the original case was between a collective known as the National Amalgamated Local Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union represented by Motshwarakgole acting as its organising secretary and also its applicant and the Office of the President of Botswana and other defendants including the National Assembly and the Attorney General.
Tafa continued to state that the section of the CoA act that his court struck down as unconstitutional was “enacted way back in the year 1980.It was repealing an earlier provision that had been enacted in 1972.” He said. He also noted: “it does not require knowledge of rocket science to understand that the act was more than twenty years before President Khama became the president of this republic.”
He further stated that he can say without fear of being contradicted that the piece of legislation was enacted long before Motshwarakgole was appointed to his position and before Manual Workers Union was reconstituted in its present form. Khama had wanted the order of the High Court halted so that “the CoA could continue in the public interest pending the intended appeal.”
He had also argued that there are currently two constitutional matters that were argued before the full CoA in January whose judgements are reserved. He also said that if the orders are not stayed, the Justices who presided over those cases will not be able to sign and deliver their judgements, to the prejudice of the litigants and the public at large. To convince Tafa, Khama further noted that “already the application session of the CoA which was to begin on the 17th of Friday 2017 has had to be postponed.”
He further argued that relying solely on High Court judges for the appeals of CoA who are ex-officio judges will be extremely disruptive of the normal work of the High Court and will be prejudicial to litigants. Khama noted: “the granting of a stay will ensure the continued smooth operation of the Administration of Justice, which is a national imperative and will cause no prejudice to Manual Workers Union.”
Motshwarakgole however countered that, given the findings made by the court, it would be unlawful, inappropriate and improper for Justices Lesetedi, Gongalelwe, Foxcroft, Cameron and Howie to sit in any future appeals unless and until the judgement has been set aside.
Motshwarakgole also said that Khama and company had exaggerated the prejudice they stood to suffer if a stay was not granted choosing to ignore the prejudice which will result if the justices of the CoA were to continue to act if the court’s judgement had not been delivered. The union boss also described their prospects of success on appeal as so poor that the application for stay should be dismissed.
Motshwarakgole further responded that the incapacitation of several judicial officers at the same time is not new in Botswana referring to an example of suspended four High Court Judges, Mercy Garekwe, Modiri Letsididi, Ranier Busang and Key Dingake. He said that the quartet was at the time of their suspension dealing with over 400 cases each and had part-heard trials as well as having several outstanding judgements. He argued that, this did not stop the wheels of justice from grinding on.
Tafa also noted that according to Manual Workers Union, there is accordingly no reason why the disqualification of a few justices of Appeal, most of which sit only twice a year, should bring the wheels of justice to a screeching halt. He further states: “this is particularly so when one has to regard the fact that all judges of the High Court are also ex-officio judges of the Court of Appeal.”
He further stated that in his judgement the prejudice to be suffered by the litigants in the two cases where judgement is pending before the CoA, is far outweighed by prejudice to be suffered by Manual Workers Union and many more litigants, should the court grant a stay only for the applicants to lose their appeal after more cases have been presided over by the concerned justices of appeal.
Tafa also stated that: “At any rate, one should ask oneself what would happen if one or two justices of the Court of Appeal were to pass on before they delivered judgement. This would certainly cause prejudice to the parties but it would not mean that they would be left without a remedy. A differently constituted court would not find it difficult to hear the cases de-novo (afresh).” He then noted that there is no reason why the CoA cannot enlist the services of some judges of the High Court to assist in carrying out the functions of the court who are ex-officio CoA judges.
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.
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.