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Gender policy opens debate on homosexuality

MP for Mahalapye East Tshireletso Botlogile said the gender policy is shying away from addressing issues of homosexuality.

The National Policy on Gender and Development currently debated in parliament has opened up a debate on the thorny issue of homosexuality which has been an elusive subject for national debate by various politicians.

The policy, which was tabled by Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Edwin Batshu last week, will replace the current Women in Development Policy. Batshu said the introduction of this policy was facilitated by the verity that gender has become a prominent item on the agenda and dialogue of all recent international meetings.

The policy frame work debate was nearly closed last week when no MP raised to debate the frame work after it was tabled before parliament. However, Boko made a request to the Speaker of the National Assembly to have the debate deferred to a later debate to give MPs ample time to study the policy frame work since the gender policy was too important to not be debated.  

Debating the policy frame work this week, Leader of Opposition and Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington South Duma Boko argued that it is imperative for gender, in the modern day to not only be treated as a matter about males and females but with the inclusion of transgendered people as well.

Boko noted that although adoption of the new policy is a positive move, a lot of important factors remain unaddressed and renders the document inadequate. While previously the issue of gender policy and empowerment was only associated with women the new one moved further to include men as part of the agenda.

However Boko said the exclusion of critical issues like inter-sex and transgender makes the policy discriminatory as it would not uplift people who fall under that category. “Gender is a complex matter and the policy should have approached it in a holistic manner,” he stated, “It excludes and fails to recognise them.”  

Supporting Boko’s views, MP for Mahalapye East Tshireletso Botlogile said the gender policy is shying away from addressing issues of homosexuality. Botlogile said the time has arrived for Botswana to open up a national debate on homosexuality because other countries have recognised it. “This gender policy gives us opportunities as MPs to talk about issues of homosexuality and abortion,” she expressed.

“It should be part and parcel of the commission which the minister seeks to establish.”

Tshireletso who has been vocal and emerged as a strong proponent of abortion and homosexuality said majority of legislators are afraid of debating these issues openly because of fear of how people will react to their views on these controversial topics. “We all know that there are people who are homosexuals and we live with them but we are afraid of talking about it,” he said. “We see it the world over that countries are have made progress in decriminalising these issues.”

Tshireletso said she was a target of number of non-governmental organisation ahead of 2014 general elections among them a religious based organisation Evangelist Fellowship Botswana (EFB) which stated that legislators and politicians who supported homosexuality and abortion should not be voted.

Tshireletso said legislators should not allow and use culture and religion to justify discrimination of some section of the society, and insisted that culture is dynamic. “We should not allow people to live a sad life for the fear of being victimised,” she said. “There is no need to fear these changes and government should enact a law.”

Former Minister of Education and Skills Development Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi also said the policy should encompass factors raised by Boko to ensure that the rights of others are taken into account. Venson-Moitoi supported the gender policy and said it will address protection of spouses in marriage. She said while the law recognises marital rape, the recognition is allowed in favour of women not men.

Other MPs who supported the inclusion of homosexuality include MP for Tati East Guma Moyo who said there was scientific evidence that some people are born with hormonal imbalance resulting in people being transgendered.   

Women are their own enemy
Interestingly, Boko, on the issue of women empowerment revealed that women are their own enemies. He said that women do not make significant numbers in politics and positions of power because some women play a pivotal role in ensuring that other women do not reach the same heights as them.

“We have women who when they ascend to positions of power kick the ladder to ensure that no other woman will emulate them,” he contended. “Women take pride in being the first and only to achieve certain mileages.”

Boko referred the house to various studies conducted in previous years that most women were not comfortable being led by other women. “Once in power, most women even in the corporate industry become petty, jealousy and arrogant making it difficult for other women to succeed their leadership,” he contended, “Women are partly to blame for the current state of affairs.”

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Seretse, Kgosi may walk free

30th October 2020

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.


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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