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42 ex-soldiers lose US Dollar suit against BDF

BDF ordered to pay only 7 of the 51 former soldiers

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) has been ordered to pay at least seven of the fifty-one (51) ex-soldiers their contribution to the Military’s Sports and Recreation Fund. However 42 of the 51 applicants lost the case with costs.


Following a lengthy court debate in which the military men had filed a number of claims against the BDF, Justice Key Dingake of the Gaborone High Court could not find any convincing evidence for him to award the soldiers their claims against their former employer.


“The law is that costs follow the event. The applicants have all but failed in all their claims save for the seven with respect to the claim with respect to contribution to Sports and Recreation Fund. It is fair that in the result, it is ordered that all the applicants claims save for contribution to the Sports and Recreation Fund by the seven applicants identified in the judgment fails with costs,” Dingake made the ruling.


Dingake was making a ruling in a case in which fifty-one former BDF soldiers had taken the BDF to court over a number of claims including, contribution to the Sports and Recreation Fund, contribution to the Welfare Fund, Failure to pay Per Diem Allowances, Payment for those on Peacekeeping Missions and Funeral Scheme contributions.


On the issue of Sports and Recreation and Welfare Funds, the soldiers averred that they were through the BDF requested to make a monthly contribution towards the Funds. According to them, they were at the conclusion of their employment, entitled to be reimbursed their contribution plus ten percent interest.


However upon retirement they were told they had donated their Sports and Recreation Fund contributions. They further alleged that the BDF refused to reimburse them the contributions they made towards the Welfare Fund.


“On the evidence, I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the seven applicants (named) did contribute to the Sports and Recreation Fund and that there is no evidence that the aforesaid employees agreed that their contributions would be converted into donations,” Dingake made the ruling and added that the said soldiers should be reimbursed their contributions plus the ten percent interest.


But with respect to the Welfare Fund, the Judge said that the aspect of the claim had not been proven and therefore dismissed the claim.


The BDF further denied that they ever agreed to pay its soldiers who were deployed to Mozambique and Somalia for peacekeeping missions any per diem allowance. But the soldiers alleged that they were informed and it was agreed that they would be entitled to such an allowance on top of their monthly salaries as they were taken out of their duty stations.


The soldiers had presented before the court that it was their understanding that such allowances would be paid on their return from the mission, alternatively would be factored in their terminal benefits upon completion of service. However the package was not issued upon retirement.


According to the arguments of the retired soldiers, those of them that were deployed to peacekeeping missions were entitled, in addition to the daily amount of Thirty American Dollars ($30. 00), to $988 that was paid the BDF for onward payment to them.

Their contention was that it was agreed that they would be paid their dues upon completion of their mission, alternatively that they would be paid a portion of their dues upon return, with the rest payable upon retirement of separation from the BDF.


However the BDF denied that the $988 amount was due to the soldiers that were deployed but rather the amount was compensation for the Republic of Botswana to have sent its soldiers to peacekeeping missions.


“With respect to this particular claim, even if I were wrong that the claim has prescribed, the claim would still have to fail for lack of sufficient evidence in the face of denial that such is due by the respondents (BDF),” the judge further pointed out.


On the claim of the funeral scheme contributions, the soldiers averred that the BDF made monthly deductions from their salaries as contribution towards a funeral scheme. The amount they said were dependent on the rank of the individual. The complaint is that, since their retirement from the service, they had not been advised on the status of their contributions or be given an assurance that the contributed funds would be utilised for their funerals upon their death.


However the BDF further denied that all the fifty-one soldiers have made monthly contributions to the funeral scheme. The BDF added that the funeral scheme was a matter between those who have contributed to the scheme and the Botswana Life Insurance Limited. The BDF maintained that it was not even privy to the arrangement and therefore said it could not be sued over the matter.


The court was convinced that only eight out of the fifty-one applicants contributed to the funeral scheme.


“On the evidence, there is no evidence that the first respondent had undertaken to reimburse Funeral Scheme contributions at the end of the applicants’ service or employment or at any other time. On the papers, the applicants do not state how much money is due to them or how much they contributed a month. Consequently, the claim for reimbursement has not been fully made out. It seems to me that it may be prudent for the applicants to pursue this matter with the insurance company,” Justice Dingake further decided on the matter.


Meanwhile the soldiers are said to be planning to appeal the case. At the time of going to print they were allegedly planning to meet the State President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama who is the Commander in Chief of the armed Forced with intention to settle this matter out of court if possible.

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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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