Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) is faced with a constitutional crisis as the two factions within the party continue to defy one another in readying for next year’s elective congress.
A liberal BMD constitution, which vests more powers on the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has made it difficult for the party to resolve the impasse within as NEC members remain divided.
The adoption of a liberal constitution by BMD at the 2011 Inaugural Congress was motivated by the manner in which the late party leader, Gomolemo Motswaledi was suspended by President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama Seretse Khama from his position as Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General in 2009, a few weeks after being elected into the position at the party congress.
At the centre of the controversy lies former party spokesperson, Sidney Pilane who has since self declared his return to the party defying an earlier resolution by party president, Ndaba Gaolathe that his membership will only be dealt with at next year’s party congress.
Gaolathe who formed part of the inaugural NEC as National Policy Director became party president following the untimely death of Motswaledi in July 2014. Prior to him assuming the presidency, Gaolathe had served as Motswaledi’s deputy.
Pilane quit the party in 2012, a year after being defeated by Motswaledi for the party leadership at the party’s inaugural congress.
Earlier this year, BMD president, Gaolathe had said that the process which was adopted to grant Pilane membership was unconstitutional since his earlier application at Gaborone North was rejected. Pilane would later be granted membership at Mochudi West branch after being abetted by party secretary general, Gilbert Mangole to do so.
Pilane’s BMD return talks started making rounds in 2015 ahead of the BMD Youth League congress held in Mochudi where it was reported that he had funded the team which emerged victorious.
It was also reported that the BMD founding member was on the verge of return to the party and also eyeing the party presidency. Pilane however ruled out the possibilities of him returning to politics, only to announce his arrival later.
Both BMD’s Youth League and Women’s League that triumphed at Mochudi Congress are said to be pushing for Pilane’s candidacy even though youth league president Phenyo Segokgo broke ranks with the rest of the members of his executive committee to sympathise with the camp supporting Gaolathe.
Impeccable sources indicate that a while ago, the youth league was planning to pass a motion of no confidence on Segokgo, only to baulk when some party leaders intervened.
The battle within the party is now lobbying for support within the party structures, the party branches that form part of delegates who will be voting at the coming elective congress.
At the moment the party has managed to hold its first congress at Gaborone Central which is fully behind the incumbent president of the party.
Last week, the Gaborone North Branch was thrown into chaos as the two camps exchanged blows as they disagreed on the gathering. The camp supporting Gaolathe had contended that the gathering was unlawful while the other camp insisted otherwise.
It is feared that BMD’s instability will tax the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), of which the former is part of. Of the 17 UDC MPs, nine belong to BMD. Implicitly the BMD internal issues are anticipated to delay talks between the UDC and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
BMD secretary general, Mangole, could not be drawn into discussing the ongoing struggle between the two factions as he said, the party leadership have agreed that due to upcoming bye-elections in Philip Matante East, in Francistown such matters should not be discussed in the media.
“Because of the nature of the matter you [this reporter] are raising, my hands are tied and I can’t comment on that because it will disturb the party and possibly have a bearing on the outcomes of the upcoming weekend bye-election.”
Mangole, who had planned going for interview in one of the local radios to respond to the ongoing impasse backed down when the party pleaded with him to postpone the interview.
The Mochudi West legislator confirmed that indeed there was a discussion with the party which led to him ditching the interview. “From next week on wards I will be able to discuss what is going on in the party,” he said.
Constitutional crisis arises when there is a situation regarding inability to resolve a disagreement involving the governing constitution of a political body, usually a dispute or an interpretation or violation of a provision in the constitution.
Meanwhile some BCP activists fear that the longer it takes to conclude the talks the higher the risk for BCP. “The bigger BCP agenda is almost suspended to accord talks with UDC space. We do not know how things will end, if the unfortunate happens and things snowball out of focus, we stand to lose big because our party is not active as we would like at the moment,” said a senior BCP executive who preferred anonymity.
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.