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Khama powers Cabinet more

Members of the executive have increased by four after President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama promoted a couple of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators from the backbench – a move that some say literally seals cabinet’s power over the other arms of government.

Following the elevation of the four backbenchers namely Ngami Member of Parliament, Thato Kwerepe; Boteti East Legislator, Itumeleng Moipisi; Tati West Member of Parliament, Biggie Butale; and Mmadinare law maker, Kefentse Mzwinila to cabinet, the third arm of government’s grip on power is expected to bolden further.

Kwerepe has been appointed assistant minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration which headed by former permanent secretary to the president, Eric Molale; while Butale is Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry which is led by Vincent Seretse. The decision to promote Butale automatically sends his litany of proposed motions to the gutter. Butale was intending to challenge establishment with some of his motions, calling for introduction of mother tongue language in schools, among other controversial subjects. 

Itumeleng Moipisi is the new assistant minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services. He will be under the supervision of Prince Maele. The newly renamed Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development respectively has a new assistant Minister in Kefentse Mzwinila, the most educated Member of Parliament who boosts several degrees, some at masters level.

Observers believe that the level of quality of debates is likely to decrease since the ruling party back bench has been weakened. In particular maverick law makers such as Biggie Butale will be silenced because of the collective responsibility approach of the executive. The pointed debates from the Tati West legislator will be a thing of yesterday as he will be expected to toe the line.

The controversial ‘opposition motions’ such as the introduction of indigenous languages to the curriculum and establishment of community radio and television stations will not see the light of day, at least in 2016 as their most energetic champion, Biggie Butale has been silenced by a cabinet appointment.

Butale appropriated the motions which in previous years were raised by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and noticed them in parliament for re-debate. But it is likely that the motions will be picked up by another Member of Parliament most likely from the opposition benches. 

Butale told this publication two weeks ago, with gusto, that he was confident his motions would be debated in parliament when it reconvenes in October. But now President Khama has rewarded him with a cabinet position.

He further argued that it does not mean that if the ruling party rejected similar motions in the past, it will continue to do the same at other times. “Times change, it doesn’t mean that they will continue to reject them,” said Butale a fortnight ago.

Butale, who is also a pastor, further said that he continues to resurrect them because he feels they can be of assistance to the most vulnerable of society. He expressed optimism that the motions will pass because BDP parliamentary caucus had already given them its blessings.

Butale also stated that the motions are not in any way pro-opposition but in actual fact will serve to demonstrate that BDP is answerable to the needs of the larger populace.

The initial motion to introduce other indigenous languages in the education curriculum has previously been rejected in the ruling party quarters as “divisive and impractical” and further described as “some new form of Bantu style education”

It was introduced by former Botswana Congress Party (BCP) politician and Selibe Phikwe Member of Parliament (MP) Gilson Saleshando.

His motion calling for the establishment of community radio and television station has also in the past been trashed by ruling party MP’s reasoning that the same have fueled ethnic divisions in Rwanda.

Previously when the motions were tabled by opposition parties’, current cabinet big wigs such as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Defence Minister Shaw Kgathi dismissed them with a passion.

A single motion by Thato Kwerepe calling for the introduction of a law for people with disabilities will also fall by the wayside.

BDP MPs who spoke to this publication reason that the reason they supported the addition of two extra Specially Elected Members of Parliament was in recognition of the latest development where President Khama recruited four backbenchers. “The back bench was going to be bankrupt, we just hope that the President’s two nominees for SEMPs will add value to the debates in Parliament,” said one of the BDP MPs. He pointed out that opposition did not have foresight to realis that the impending reshuffle had the potential to cripple Parliament because Cabinet will be too strong and weigh on the backbench and combined opposition.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS

Shoshong Member of Parliament, Dikgang Makgalemele has been redeployed from Office of the President to the Ministry of Health and Wellness as Assistant Minister. Observers are of the view that he is not happy with this move but he will take it anyway. He is an ambitious politician and he would have loved a promotion instead.

Kitso Mokaila has been given the Ministry of Transport and Communications following reports that he did not want the Minsitry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services. It is evident that his latest portfolio was a compromise.

Dr Unity Dow has been named the minister of the newly created Ministry of Basic Education. She will be assisted by Master Goya. Others are of the view that she would have wanted to be at Tertiary level.

Nkage Member of Parliament Edwin Batshu will take care of the newly created Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs ministry.

Dr Alfred Madigela has been promoted to senior minister at Tertiary Education,Research,Science & Technology and he is assisted by Fidelis Molao. Sadique Kebonanghas also been promoted to head the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security. He was assistant minister at Trade under Vincent Seretse.

FULL LIST OF MINISTERS

Mr Eric Molale is the minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration assisted by Mr Thato Kwerepe.

Mr Shaw Kgathi remains Minister of Defence, Justice and Security.

Mr Patrick Ralotsia is Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security assisted by Mr Kgotla Autlwetse.

Mr Nonofho Molefhi is Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development.

Dr Unity Dow is Minister of Basic Education, assisted by Mr Moiseraele Goya.

Mr Tshekedi Khama is Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism.

Mr Kenneth Matambo is Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is Minister of International Affairs and Co-operation.

Ms Dorcas Makgato is Minister of Health and Wellness assisted by Mr Dikgang Makgalemele

Mr Tshenolo Mabeo is Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development.

Mr Prince Maele is Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services assisted by Mr Itumeleng Moipisi.

Mr Slumber Tsogwane remains Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and still assisted by Ms Botlogile Tshireletso and Mr Frans Van Der Westhuizen.

Advocate Sadique Kebonang is Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security.

Mr Vincent Seretse remains Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, assisted by Mr Biggie Butale.

Mr Kitso Mokaila is Minister of Transport and Communications.

Mr Thapelo Olopeng is Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development assisted by Mr Kefentse Mzwinila.

Dr Alfred Madigele is Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, assisted by Mr Fidelis Molao.

Mr Edwin Batshu is Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs.

The Cabinet appointments take effect from October 1.

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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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Dow wants GBV culprits isolated

26th October 2020
Unity Dow

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.

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