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BDP MP threatens to report Gov’t to UN

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Marcus Chimbombi

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Maun East, Konstantinos Markus has threatened to report the government to the United Nations over comments made by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Marcus Chimbombi that the veterinary services have “pushed the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) to the corner of the country.”


Speaking at the ongoing Public Accounts Committee (PAC) at the Parliament buildings in Gaborone on Thursday this week, Markos indicated that he was disappointed that the P.S has said that.


“I was disappointed when you said you pushed FMD to the North. Those people who you pushed FMD to also need to survive. They need to sell their cattle for them to survive!” Markus expressed his disappointment.
He further told the PAC that he would report the matter to the UN.


Chimbombi had used the word “push” when he was expressing the way his Ministry had managed to contain the Foot and Mouth Disease over the years. He was in fact responding to the PAC concern that the Ministry was seemingly failing to eradicate the animal disease which had been a calamity in the Ngamiland area for many years.


“The fact that we still talk about livestock industry in this country is because we have managed the disease. We pushed it to the corner of the country,” Chimbombi had responded.


The discussion was prompted by Tati East MP, Moyo Guma who expressed doubts that Chimbombi was ready to stop the looming spread of FMD from Zimbabwe to the Ngamiland Area. The FMD outbreak was recently reported in Figtree, Zimbabwe, which is about thirty Kilometre from Ngamiland.


With dilapidated cordon fences and border fences which are often illegally cut by border jumpers, Moyo expressed fear that another FMD outbreak would spell disaster for the Ngamiland farmers. However Chimbombi assured the committee that his teams were ready to save the Ngamiland cattle from another disaster. He also admitted the fact that the FMD outbreak in Figtree was a threat to Ngamiland.


The Ngamiland has been for years disadvantaged by the FMD outbreaks as its beef cannot be sold to the lucrative European Union market as a result. Although the Ministry of Agriculture through the Botswana Meat Commission managed to sell the Ngamiland beef to Zimbabwe among other few markets, Zimbabwe still owes Botswana over 170 Us Dollars of the life cattle it bought about five years ago.


Chimbombi is unable to push Zimbabwe too hard to pay the debt because Botswana is still doing business with the country.


“After they pay the debt we still want to maintain the relationship,” Chimbombi added.


The diplomatic relations between the two countries have seen Botswana paying a lot extra to fight the FMD both in Botswana and Zimbabwe  as a way of protecting its beef industry and export to the EU.


Three years ago, Botswana vaccinated animals in Zimbabwe solely using its medicine and at its cost so as to prevent the FMD even though Zimbabwe later terminated the agreement. However Chimbombi announced to the PAC that Zimabwe has now approached Botswana and requested it to resuscitate the exercise.


Meanwhile Chimbombi had announced that the Botswana Meat Commission is technically brankrupt and therefore spelling more worries over the future of the country’s beef industry. His assurance that the BMC was working on a turnaround strategy did not convince the PAC who reminded him that the same talk has been there since 2008 and to date, the no strategy has worked.


“We have been talking about the turnaround strategy since 2008 when I was still the Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning but it is still not done,” Tati east MP, Moyo Guma expressed the doubt.


However Chimbombi maintained that someday the strategy would work and would push BMC out of the red. He further maintained that his Ministry would ensure that agriculture contributes six percent of the country’s income instead of the 2.8 percent it is currently contributing.

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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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