The lawyers representing ten Eritrean football players who are seeking political asylum in Botswana got the shock of their lives this week when the players told them that they want nothing to do with them or the Movement for Democracy and Human rights who stopped their repatriation to their country last week through an interim court order.
The lawyers, Dick Bayford and his partner, Joao Salbany discovered that the footballers had been intimidated by the Botswana government and made to believe that the lawyers and the human rights organisation were detrimental to their application for asylum.
Bayford has revealed that the footballers said some five men, suspected to be agents from the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) visited them at the Francistown detention camp for illegal immigrants, the very night they were detained.
The officers mislead the footballers into believing that the lawyers and the human rights organisation would delay their applications for asylum if they allow them to take the matter to court. Further the footballers were made to write a declaration in their language that they do not want any legal representation or anyone else to intervene in their application for asylum.
“After we introduced ourselves to them, they communicated to us through one of them who speaks fluent English that they do not want us to represent them. They said the government officials have told them that they were processing their applications and that the only stumbling block was the human rights organisation the lawyers. They said the date set by lawyers for their case to be heard in court was a tactic to delay their application,” Bayford explained in a press briefing in Gaborone, Friday morning.
Bayford added the officers allegedly threatened the footballers that they risked rotting in the facility if they accepted the lawyers and the human rights organisation to take their case to court.
It took them five uninterrupted hours for the lawyers to persuade the footballers that they are the ones who were actually acting on their best interest to stop the government from repatriating them back to their country.
“They said they were confused because the government is saying one thing and we are saying the other. They did not know why it was important to make an urgent application,” Bayford further explained.
In fact the centre for illegal immigrants in Francistown was likened to a maximum prison where there is complete blackout of news. Bayford suspects the suspected DIS agents could have taken advantage of the news blackout to misdirect the detained footballers.
He says the footballers have now revoked the declaration they made through the government officials and now wants legal representation in this matter.
“They know the ambassador has disposed and punched holes in their passports, but they were not aware of what the government position was in regards to their asylum applications,” Bayford added.
Meanwhile Bayford says they intend to uncover the identity of the men who intimidated the players as they acted unlawfully and in contempt of court. He says they also would compel the government to equally make a declaration that it would never again intimidate, mislead and coerce their clients into making wrong decisions.
The government through the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi had aired its wish to repatriate the footballers back to Eretria. The contention is that it does not want to be seen to be meddling in the political affairs of that country.
However the human rights organisations strongly believe that it would not be safe for the young men to be taken back there given possible dire punishment that could be unleashed and inflicted on them by their government.
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.