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Mathokgwane: I resigned due to ill-health

Former MP says he is diabetic

The former Member of Parliament for Goodhope/Mabule, James Mathokgwane resigned from his Parliamentary seat this week due to ill health.


In an exclusive interview this week, Mathokgwane confirmed that he is diabetic and the condition is affecting his heart and that his doctor had advised him to quite active politics to nurse his condition.


“At the beginning of the current Parliament I felt sick and could not even read my speech. Parliament had to adjourn because of that. My doctor told me that every time I get agitated my blood pressure escalates and people do not care about these things. Nobody remembers these things!” Mathokgwane further explained.


Mathokgwane tendered his resignation to the Speaker of Parliament on Wednesday this week. His Party, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) maintained that his reasons for resigning were personal. However this week as speculation became rife that he was probably bought by the ruling party to betray the opposition, Mathokgwane had to explain himself and clear the air.


 “I have four beautiful kids and if a drop and die today, politics would not send them to school, politics would not feed them and it would never care for them. Of course politics have been my passion, but I have realised that they will kill me if I am not careful,” Mathokgwane explained.


He said he took the decision to resign from Parliament about two Months ago and he has been discussing it with his party President, Duma Boko since then.


“This is not an issue that just happened. I have been discussing it with the leadership. We did not discuss this over a week or two weeks. We discussed it over two months and it was not easy for either one of us but I am glad that he (Boko) understood why I had to quit,” Mathokgwane added.


Mathokgwane would be joining the Selibe-Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) as a very senior officer. Although he had not confirmed it the WeekendPost has it on good record that the job also comes with very lucrative incentives.


“I can only confirm the fact that of course I have found employment and I would be joining the organisation very soon. After the doctor told me of the seriousness of my illness I started applying for employment,” Mathokgwane further explained.


Although speculations are rife that Mathokgwane was bought by the ruling Botswana Democratic party to weaken the opposition, he had denied it and maintains that he remains a member of the Botswana National Front (BNF), which is a group member of the UDC.


“I am not joining any other political organisation. I was not bought. I am not for sale. I have worked for reputable organisations before including the World Bank organisation. My credentials allow me to find a job anywhere,” he further pointed out.


Mathokgwane was a new comer to Parliament after his win against the then former Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila and a long serving member of parliament for the area, which was then called Borolong constituency.


In the run up to the October 2014 general elections, Mokaila was said to be among the favoured men who President Ian Khama wanted as Vice President. Mokaila’s loss meant that Khama was left with one favourite, Mokgweetsi Masisi who was subsequently appointed the Vice President of the country.


Mathokgwane was therefore one of the opposition MPs who was believed to have messed up the Presidential succession plan. But even though the win margin was less than 500, Mokaila allegedly would not contest the coming by elections in the area as he was since specially elected to Parliament and is currently the Minister of  Minerals, Energy and Water Resources. Instead the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale  rumoured to be likely to take his chances in the by elections.


Mathokgwane is not the first MP to quit. In 2007, the Kgalagadi North MP, Obakeng Moumakwa of Botswana national Front and  The Palapye MP,  Boyce Sebetela of the Botswana Democratic Party resigned in pursuit of greener pastures. In 2008 the Gaborone Mayor, Nelson Ramaotwana resigned and joined the Attorney Generals Chambers.

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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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