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DCEC, media clash over Corruption Law

DCEC Director propose to edit investigative stories

Media practitioners and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) are at loggerheads over section 44 of the DCEC Act. The friction gained traction following the search of News Company Botswana premises and seizure of a computer by DCEC operatives.


The media is against the said section citing that it infringes on media freedom while on the other hand DCEC is resolute on implementing the law because it is critical to ensuring sound investigation. The DCEC is accusing the media of leaking critical information to parties that may interfere with investigations. In essence the DCEC is saying the media is therefore jeopardizing their investigations.


While DCEC gets immense powers from the Corruption and Economic Crime Act (CECA) in the line of investigating corruption, media practitioners on the other hand insist that section 12 of the constitution provides them with sufficient authority to carry parallel investigations.


DCEC Director General, Rose Seretse acceded in her address to the media on Friday that in the recent past DCEC has had a standoff with the media regarding some reports that they (DCEC) felt compromised some of their investigations. “Section 44 of the Corruption on Economic Crime Act (CECA) prohibits any indulgence of information which is still under DCEC investigation,” she maintained.


She stated that an investigation that is disclosed prematurely is compromised because even the suspect at that stage may not even be aware that they are being investigated and once alerted it is very obvious that they will destroy the very vital evidence that we need.”


According to Seretse there is need for a sober assessment of the whole issue surrounding this matter and other similar matters that may arise in the future, to create a conducive environment whereby the DCEC can be given enough space to carry out its investigations on reports of alleged corruption without those investigations being compromised by unauthorized and/or premature disclosure of information.


DCEC Director General suggested that she could assist in editing news investigative pieces so that she may withhold the story if she sees that it may jeorpadise their investigations. Infact she admitted that section 44 of CECA give them powers as they prohibit divulging information to matters that are under their investigations.


The section 44 (of CECA) states that, “any person who, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, discloses to any person who is subject of any investigation in respect of any offence alleged or suspected to have been committed by him under this Act the fact that he is subject to such investigations or any details of such investigation, or publishes or discloses to any person either the identity of any person who is subject of such investigation or any details of such investigation, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to a fine not exceeding P2000.00 or both.”


In reference to the Act, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has already instituted a court case, as a friend of the court, in the substantive application brought by the Attorney General against Tsodilo Services (pty) Ltd (Sunday Standard and its editor Outsa Mokone). MISA observes that section 44 of DCEC Act has limitations placed on the freedom of expression and therefore it is unconstitutional as it is not in the public interest.


MISA stated in the papers that the CECA is against the spirit of section 12 of the constitution which clearly states that, “except with his or her consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinion without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference, (whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons) and freedom from interference with his or her correspondence.”


Recently the media, Botswana Gazette in particular, clashed with DCEC authorities over a story concerning corruption allegations of one Jerry Chitube in relation to P150 million worth of alleged oil deals and smuggling of diamonds. According to Seretse, the matter was still under investigation by officers at the corruption busting agency. She said she was shocked to see the story published in the media. Seretse stated on the sidelines of the press conference to the WeekendPost that “the story has jeorpadised their investigation and therefore negatively affected the case.”

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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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