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BDP challengers worry Masisi

Main Threat; Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman and Vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi this week expressed reservations about a myriad of party chums who have thrown their hats in the ring to challenge him for the presidency towards 2019, Weekend Post has learnt.

Masisi was speaking to Southern region party faithfuls at a secret in-house meeting at Sampi Lodge in Kanye on Sunday.

By virtue of his position, Masisi is expected to automatically rise to the position of President in 2018 when incumbent President Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s two terms – as dictated by the country’s constitution – come to a close. It has been the party norm and tradition that when the VP ascends to the presidency, he is also endorsed substantive at the next congress leading to the elections.

At the said meeting it is understood that Masisi, who was accompanied by party Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane and Member of Central Committee (MCC) for Southern region and Mahalapye East law maker Botlogile Tshireletso; once again took shots at those with intent of making the presidency out of his reach.

An immaculate BDP source in the region told WeekendPost after the meeting that the party Chairman spoke out against the “countless” contestants who want to challenge him and expressed his disappointment at the gesture.

“He told us that some want to split the party by contesting in numbers for the presidency saying it appeared like it was mostly the old BDP crop. He therefore – indicated that this may suggest that we are an opposition in our own,” the source who preferred anonymity for fear of being victimized pointed out.  

A sizable number of influential BDP figures like President Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s younger brother and Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Khama; Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi; ex-cabinet Minister and Botswana ambassador to United States Tebelelo Seretse as well as corruption busting ex law maker Robert Masitara have all confirmed to this publication before, of their “interest” in the BDP presidential race.

In addition former cabinet Minister Boyce Sebetela has also hinted of a possible run for the party’s top office while Botswana’s ambassador to Japan Jacob Nkate is also fingered in the race, and the list may balloon if a compromise which was previously the subject of discussion is not reached.

Mindful of the weight the presidential contesters carry, the BDP insider said the Vice President was concerned that there are some people who influence others to stand for impending party presidential elections with the aim of ‘de-stabilising’ the BDP. “He believed that the presidency should be left to him for purposes of stability of the party.”

It is understood that Masisi also conceded that they need not do anything that may cause instability in the party as they may be on the verge of losing elections to opposition parties – which are likely to form a united front in 2019 – and therefore given that they have to tread carefully.

In the meeting, it is also understood that they also drew a plan and formula to try to win the next elections again, which are likely to be tightly contested.
Masisi also split Kweneng, Southern region   

In his bid to the state house post 2019 General Elections, the Vice president announced at the Kanye meeting that they have decided to split the Southern region into two separate regions.

Southern region will now be made up of only Lobatse, Goodhope/Mabule, and Mmathethe/Molapowabojang constituencies while the other new region will benamed South West which comprises Kanye North, Kanye South, Moshupa/Manyana and Jwaneng/Mabutsane.

The move to increase regions – particularly in the South is seen as Masisi’s strategy to lure votes from the south of the country and take regions by the scruff of the neck – to enable him to be president. Regional Chairpersons and Secretaries have the leverage to nominate and endorse their preferred candidates for presidency when the party gathers at a special congress.

According to the source inside the BDP, “the issue is about numbers, as you know the regions’ Chairpersons and Secretaries elect the president and Masisi wanted to make sure that there are more regions in the South and that the regional leaders are on his side. It’s his strategy to win elections by increasing the regions. He is strong in the South so he wants to increase his base first,” he stressed.

Prior to paying a visit to the Southern region, it is understood that Masisi was at Kweneng region a fortnight ago where he also hinted that the region needs to be divided to increase regions’ effectiveness as they were seen as wide and huge.

There has been 12 regions for the party namely North West, North East, Western, Francistown, Central, Letswapo, Bomase, Shoma, South East, Gaborone, Southern and Kweneng. The new region is South West and others are expected to be announced soon and therefore will increase from the initial 12.

It is understood that for his part the BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane highlighted to ma-domkrag who were present that the party is considering increasing the number of constituencies especially in the North where BDP’s presence is very strong.

Another high profile member at the meeting, Tshireletso is also said to have raised concern about Specially Elected Councilors and Legislators who have to vigorously sell the party, which she says is currently not the case. She also said as the MCC, nobody never approached her with the evaluation of recent bye elections in the Southern region which she says concerns her.

BDP SG Ntuane confirms the meeting

When reached for comment, Ntuane, in a carefully worded response confirmed to this publication that indeed they met over the weekend in Kanye although he was cagey with the details of such a meeting while emphasizing that- it was ‘in house’.

Ntuane declined to comment on the words allegedly uttered by BDP chairman when he aired his uneasiness on the high number of BDP members eyeing the presidency instead of smoothly endorsing him as has been the party tradition.

He however stated that: “there are certain processes which we follow internally, which in the case of Southern region culminated in the meeting held over the weekend. With Kweneng region the internal process is still ongoing and we will make an announcement only when it’s completed.”

He emphasized that the gathering in Southern region was an in-house meeting and in such instances they don’t disseminate anything publicly unless it’s on a need to know basis. “Note that we have been holding many such meetings across the country as the party leadership,” he told this publication.

According to the ever diplomatic Ntuane, the only thing they can share from this particular in-house meeting which is of critical importance to democrats in “Southern region is that their region will be realigned into 2 new regions comprising of a Southern region which will be made up of Lobatse, Goodhope/Mabule, and Mmathethe/Molapowabojang constituencies.”

The other new region he said is South West which comprises Kanye North, Kanye South, Moshupa and Jwaneng/Mabutsane. “So the 7 constituencies which previously made up the Southern region have now been split into 3 and 4 constituencies respectively. We hope the realignment will improve administrative efficiencies and assist in mobilization efforts as we prepare for 2019.”

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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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