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Opposition grumpy over BMC’s P300m request

BMC face cash flow problem, wants to pay farmers

The Finance and Estimates Committee (FEC) has approved P300 million funding for the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) despite resistance from opposition members who said the funding was irresponsible.


Presenting the budget before Parliament this week, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo stated that the P300 million requested by the Ministry of Agriculture for BMC will finance the operational losses for the current financial year.


However, MP for Gaborone Bonnington South Ndaba Gaolathe has said the approval of such an amount of money to BMC is irresponsible since BMC funding did not meet specific requirements like provision of rate of returns and financial risk levels. Gaolathe said BMC’s inefficiency is as a result of it being the only player in the industry.


Gaolathe also noted that the opposition members of the FEC were against the P300 million funding of the BMC but could not stop it since they were minority. Gaolathe is of the view that the Budget and Estimates Committee has to have its own frame work and scoring points to satisfy itself on whether the money requested was worth it or not.


According to the MP, the parliamentary committee was erring by continually wholly granting the 100% supplementary requests. He said this could in turn create not only a precedent but a culture that will compromise the Botswana government system of sustainable budgeting.


In December last year opposition MPs who are members of the Finance and Estimates Committee submitted a proposal on the framework of analysis of supplementary funding of Government ministries and its departments.


The frame work identified five key criteria, considered to be pertinent in any national supplementary budgeting process. This categories are; Category unforeseen, Category high systematic risk, Category cost-benefit, Category sustainability and Category Management of Risk.


The frame work stated that supplementary funding should only be those expenses that meet the requirements as prescribed by the constitution or that were foreseen but not budget for due to planning lapse or sudden changes in government revenue out-turn.


MP for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa said parliament does not necessarily have to approve the whole budget for government ministries and departments. Nkaigwa said it was crucial that parliament closely determined the need and rejected the request if it is not satisfactory.


The former Gaborone city mayor said MPs are dancing to the tune of the executive without applying their authority as the legislature. Nkaigwa said there is a serious planning crisis in the government and bluntly rejected wholly the budget request made by the minister of Finance and Development Planning.


MP for Ghanzi North Noah Salakae said BMC is facing cash flow problems but government does not want to admit it. Salakae said it was time that government approved the legislation that would end BMC monopoly and open the market to other players as well.  


MP for Selebi Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse also expressed his reservations about the BMC request and warned that Botswana is moving towards fiscal indiscipline. Keorapetse said under normal circumstances parliament should be rejecting some request especially where prudence in public funds is at stake.

 
Matambo requested a total of P399 million from Consolidated Fund and P45.9 million from the Development Fund.  Matambo told parliament that following the Drought and Household Food Security assessment conducted from the 23rd March-10th April 2015, findings indicated that there was a significant decline in rainfall which led to loss of biomass and low hectorage ploughed or planted.


The finance minister said as a result of this Government declared 2014/2015 a drought year through a Presidential Directive.  “The bulk of the requests under the recurrent budget will cover relief measures to be implemented by the respective Ministries,” he said.


Matambo said the a total amounting to P399,104,820 was requested by five ministries namely, Finance and Development  Planning, Agriculture, Local Government and Rural Development, Health, and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.


Matambo said the P103 million requested by the finance ministry will augment the provision in the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Account, in order to cover the 85 percent subsidy to dry-land farmers who obtained seasonal loans from CEDA and NDB.

“The subsidy is meant to reduce their debt obligations with these lending institutions by 85 percent of the instalments that fell due in the 2014/2015 cropping season,” Matambo said. “The farmers are responsible for the remaining 15 percent of the instalments and are only covered if they would have paid their premiums.”

Supplementary Budgets as requested by Ministries

Recurrent Budget
– Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (P103 million)
– Ministry of Agriculture (P53 million)
– Ministry of Local Government (P237million)
– Ministry of Health (P4million)
– Ministry of Foreign Affairs (P1million)

Development Budget
– Ministry of Agriculture (P300 million)
– Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (P38.9 million)
– Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (P7 million)

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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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