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Former Ministers share misgivings on the current government

Former Ministers Ndelu Seretse


Former Ministers Ndelu Seretse and Peter Siele have joined the bandwagon and almost questioned the style of leadership of the current government.  

The duo had this week, for the first time since becoming the ‘fall guys’ at the recent General Elections, took to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) anti-corruption Pitso podium their frustrations and objections of government’s shortcomings.   

The Pitso, themed “Twenty years fighting corruption – the journey continues” has put together various DCEC stakeholders to deliberate on ways of assisting the organization to deliver its mandate and by extension assist the entire nation to curtail corruption.

The two ex-ministers have thrown down the gauntlet to incumbent leaders after consuming findings of the 2014 Afrobarometer study. The study found out that a majority of eight in 10 (81%) of Batswana think that government officials are involved in corruption, with just over half (51%) of Batswana saying that the level of corruption has increased over the past year.

In addition the study says a majority of over eight in 10 (84%) of Batswana want the President to appear before Parliament to account and there is two thirds (75%) support for a law on declaration of assets and liabilities by senior government officials, ministers, MPs and the president.

According to the seemingly provoked former minister of Local Government and Rural development (MLGRD), Siele, corruption figures from the study are worrisome and a cause for concern.

“The current leaders of the country should have been present in such gatherings – and particularly this one – so that they can listen to this informational study and introspect,” Siele said.
Former leaders like statesmen, Sir Ketumile Masire, Festus Mogae and Ponatshego Kedikilwe have also made it routine to slate government though they have led and served in it in the yesteryears.

“Perceptions such as these derived from this study should be interrogated to see the extent to which they are real and true,” Siele said.

On his part, erstwhile Minister of Defence, Justice and Security (MoDJS) Ndelu Seretse, also called on the government to give the nation full explanation on the high corruption figures purported by the study. “Leadership should come to explain these figures so that we inform ourselves – and therefore move from perception (of the study) to reality.”

Local vs international research studies

In the DCEC Pitso deliberations, Dr. Gape Kaboyakgosi who is currently Senior Research Fellow at Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) also commented that there was a clear disjunction between Botswana’s local and international corruption rankings.

While the local Afrobarometer study implicated the crop of leaders in the country as generally corrupt, international research institutions like Transparency International’s corruption perception

index, continue to shower accolades to Botswana labelling it as least corrupt in Sub Saharan Africa.

This according to Dr. Kaboyakgosi and some in the gathering, raises eyebrows on the methodologies and type of interviewees engaged for both research studies.

Government systems need to be overhauled

Meanwhile ex-Member of Parliament (MP), Robert Masitara had a presentation in which he decried “poor government systems” that have swamped the administration of the country.

In his presentation Masitara declared that “we need to overhaul all government systems including accounting and record methods to put things in order and most importantly to easily detect any wrongdoing especially amounting to corruption.”

Adding up to Masitara’s chorus in the comments session, Director in the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), Ruth Maphorisa reminded participants to “avoid finger pointing at the alleged corrupt heads but instead also look at and talk to the system to see whether it serves us well or not.”

Maphorisa who has literally served government for donkey years expressed reservations at the government system which she suggested although not explicit,that might be powering such shady undertakings as well.

“We should look at our system and whether it serves us well with regard to corruption,” she warned the packed gallery comprising of former and current ministers, legislators, councilors, leaders in the private sector and parastatals as well as other stakeholders and the general public.

She almost conceded that the government systems leave a lot to be desired.

Parliament should have integrity to pass well researched laws

Meanwhile, in the rough-and-the-tumble-world of the countryside where top politicians and high ranking government officials bark worse than their bite with regard to corruption, Masitara chose to be a lone voice in scorning corruption and further at times threatening to spill the beans by naming-and-shaming corrupt leaders.

The ex- Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MP for Gaborone West North now dubbed Gaborone Bonnington North is notorious for his signature loathe for corruption that spans from his stint in parliament.

In his presentation the candid and outspoken ex-legislator said parliament should have the integrity to pass laws that have been well researched.

He commended the current parliamentarians for passing corruption busting legislations such as the Counterterrorism Act and Financial Intelligence and Agency Act.

Meanwhile keynote speaker, Assistant Minister at the Office of the President, Phillip Makgalemele told the assembly that the whistle blowing bill which stopped at the second reading in the last sitting of parliament is likely to be completed during this current sitting of parliament.

In addition, while a bill on declaration of assets is being drafted at the Attorney General’s Chambers and also expected to enhance the fight against corruption, Masitara believes that the Act, “e siilwe ke nako” meaning that “it’s no longer relevant”saying the Act will be a ‘useless’ tool in fighting corruption.

“Those who have declared their assets will still buy property with other people’s names in it. Then the assets will be sold and money goes back to the hands of those who previously declared.”
In terms of the much anticipated Freedom of Information Act (FOI), he said the law will also be pointless arguing that what is more crucial is the Data Protection Act (DPA). “FOI Act is a subset of DPA mathematically. The best you can do is fuss FOI Act into DPA,” he added.

DCEC needs to carry lifestyle audits

According to the debatable former philanthropist under the Masitara foundation, “what we need in our country is lifestyle audits.” The audits, he highlighted should be done by constituted institutions like DCEC.

It will force us to declare our incomes, liabilities etc and failure to justify then the assets will be fully confiscated by government.
New ministry of Governance of Oversight needed

Masitara said DCEC needs to be properly independent from government and a new ministry of Governance and Oversight be created. He said, DCEC will have to report administratively to the new ministry. Functionally, they must go outside the ambit of the ministry to parliament or the president, he said.

The business kingpin believes that if the (new ministry) is given more powers and responsibilities it naturally shall equate to being accountable. He added that parallel investigations by DCEC and parliament select committee will become things of the past.
Other issues

In other matters, the former legislator cautioned against tendering processes which are frequently being flouted and also regional bodies like Southern African Development Corporation (SADC) tribunal which he says has failed due to big brother mentality of some countries adding that the International Criminal Court (ICC) must as well equate grand corruption to crimes against humanity.

Masitara further warned Financial Intelligence Agency that internal audits are not supposed to be under the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP). “With regard to board members in multiple organisations, this needs to stop,” he warned.

“We are also going to go back and trace how some people in the country ended up having around 900 plots. How is that possible, I mean even if one has money and may have bought the plots, they have to be thoroughly investigated,” he said to a deafening silence in the room.

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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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