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MPs criticise unfriendly immigration policy

Ministrer of Labour and Home Affairs: Edwin Batsu

Members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have urged Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs to loosen up its immigration policy in order to attract skills and investors which the country needs to progress economically.

Botswana, considered one of the closed countries grants citizenship to less than 200 people a year, a quota which has seen thousands of people being rejected despite meeting all the requirements.

Guma Moyo, a PAC member has contended that the quota system is having a negative impact on the country since the country is unable to utilise the skills and investments that it needs from various foreign nationals who are willing to become citizens of Botswana.

“We must learn from countries like the United States of America which is successful largely because of immigrants,” he said.

Moyo said it is evident that the quota which has been set by government is creating a problem because some business owners are forced to leave the country to settle elsewhere.

“If somebody has been in Botswana and doing business for the past years with a clean record, why not grant him citizenship?” he asked.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Pearl Ramokoka revealed that it is indeed true that qualifying applicants are rejected because of the quota set by government. The quota has been in use for the past 10 years and has not been reviewed despite a growing number of applicants qualifying for citizenship.      

Guma has advocated for a policy similar to a points based system used by some countries including Australia, New Zealand and others to attract the skills which they need in their countries. This would mean qualification of citizenship based on factors such as skills and age.

The immigration policy has become a hot potato issue in the last few years, with former President Festus Mogae having joined the bandwagon by stating that Botswana has become a closed society which is unwelcoming.

PAC was also informed that over 600 VISA applications were rejected last year alone owing to various factors.

Countries like South Africa, United States, and United Kingdom have a diplomatic agreement with Botswana that their nationals do not require VISAs to visit Botswana.

Notwithstanding that, the department of Immigration has placed some citizens from these countries on VISA restrictions and those nationals have on several occasions been denied visiting Botswana.

The Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) has been accused of playing part in the rejection and delaying of VISAs, something which the DIS chief Isaac Kgosi dispelled two weeks ago when he appeared before the committee.

Most of the concerns raised by MPs were raised again in the last session of PAC. The Tati East MP previously said Botswana is quickly earning a bad name for its self as its image as a friendly and welcoming nation has started to fade away.

Moyo also highlighted that countries like India, and China, who are one of the biggest investors in Botswana’s economy have began to think Botswana is a no go area for business.

Biggie Butale, a committee member also suggested that Botswana could open up a bit for the purpose of increasing its population, so that Botswana’s economy becomes competitive.

“I am not saying we should just open it to anyone, but to those we think will add value to the economy of this country,” he said.

“I know there are countries with immigrants who are more in number than the natives, countries like Dubai [United Arab Emirates] for instance.”

Moyo further poured scorn on the issue regarding the Ramokgwebana border as he expressed his displeasure with the attitudes of employees there towards Zimbabweans.

“The service is poorer because of how your staff treats Zimbabweans,” he said. “On the other side in Zimbabwe the service is quicker, yet in Botswana people wait for a long time in queue. At Tlokweng and other border gates the service is also quicker. Why in Ramokgwebana?”

Moyo also noted that the services at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport are quicker, which raises concern on Ramokgwebana border. Ramokgwebana border is one of the busiest border gates in Botswana, with Zimbabwean nationals crossing over to Botswana on daily basis mainly for shopping.

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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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