Unity Dow says she is more popular than most legislators
Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow, who is also Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, has weighed heavily on the debate concerning the country’s electoral system – First Past The Post (FPTP), and the Special Election of Members of Parliament as well as Nomination of Councillors.
Responding to President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s State of the Nation Address this week, Dow was not impressed with the opposition chants that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was not popularly elected, hence it was a minority government. The opposition has also condemned the Special Election of MPs and Nomination of Councillors, labelling the two dispensations, a fraud meant to reward losers and rejects.
Dow herself was Specially Elected by Parliament after losing to Gilbert Mangole in the Mochudi West constituency during the October general election. Mangole was voted by 8856 people while Dow trailed with 6085 votes and the BCP’s Alfred Ramono Pilane was voted by 3558 residents.
First on Dr Dow’s radar was the question of popular vote, which she took time to dissect to the National Assembly, explaining that it can be understood in many facets. She even dispelled the said popularity of some Members of Parliament who come from constituencies similar in size to the one she contested. She stressed that she was in fact more popular than most MPs; hence their being in the house could be subjected to similar scrutiny.
DOW ON SPECIAL ELECTION OF MPS
“I believe we can all agree that the Special Election of MPs process was designed to give newly elected party a chance to assess its winning margin and to audit the expertise delivered by the electorate and to then decide how to ensure that it has both the numbers and the expertise to deliver on its elections promises. That is how my party employed the system,” observed Dow.
She said if anyone does not like the system, a system regulated by law; they do not call the system a “dictatorship” and “devilish” as some MPs have decided. “They propose a reasoned and rational amendment to the law, “if the law does not pass, the UDC will be put on notice on how the UDC, they ever take power, will amend that particular law,” she said.
DOW ON POPULAR VOTE
Dow further observed that complaints against the current electoral system were not limited to the SEMP system only. “There are complaints that the current electoral system of First Past the Post (FPTP) allows for the BDP to have won when it did not get the “popular vote”. The Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development said the BDP, according to the opposition should not be in power because it did not win the popular vote –m meaning that it did not get more than 50 percent of the votes cast.
Dow said it appears that the opposition only wants to employ the popular vote rhetoric where it suits them. She gave a number of examples of Members of Parliament who she said did not get the popular votes from constituencies where they contested. She further stressed that she got more votes than most of the Members of Parliament.
Dow gave examples of MPs Wynter Mmolotsi (5261 votes), Dithapelo keorapetse (4247), Haskins Nkaigwa (5738), Sedirwa Kgoroba (4180), Dr Tlamelo Mmatli (5 967), Noah Salakae (3999), Phenyo Butale (4601 votes), among others as examples of MPs who fail the popular vote test. She indicated that she got 6085 votes, a number significantly higher than ones achieved by the MPs she mentioned.
“Candidate to Candidate, I received more votes than any of these individuals – Candidate to candidate, I received a higher popular vote than any of these gentlemen did – by what right then are they sitting in this house?” Dow said if the popular should be the yardstick, then none of those with votes less than hers should be in the National Assembly. “But they are and they are entitled to be; because the electoral laws allow it. Perhaps the UDC wishes to change the law; if they do, I invite them to propose legislative amendments to the law,” she said.
According to Dow, only 27 of the 57 Members of Parliament got the popular vote. She cited the examples of Bagalatia Arone, Guma Moyo, Edwin Batshu, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Prince Maele, among others. She said only six of the UDC’s 17 Members of Parliament received the popular vote, and only one of the BCP’s three Members of Parliament received the popular vote.
“So the devilish dictatorship that Honourable Phenyo Butale is complaining about has served him well. He has not received the popular vote. He was voted by only 4601 people. The City of Gaborone has a population of 231 592. Assuming that a fifth are in Hon Butale’s constituency, there are 46 300 people in his constituency. Of these only 11 609 registered to vote. Of these 4601 sent him to Parliament. Mochudi West has about the same number of people, 46 500. Of those 6085 voted for me. That is 1484 more than those who voted Hon Phenyo Butale,” she said.
Dow encouraged the opposition to suggest legislative reforms so that no one enters the National Assembly without having achieved the “magical popular vote.”
In a significant stride towards inclusivity, Botswana’s National Assembly has ratified the groundbreaking Persons with Disability Act. This legislation is a cornerstone in protecting the rights and promoting the economic well-being of individuals with disabilities
At the heart of this act is the creation of two pivotal bodies: the National Disability Coordinating Office and the National Disability Council. These institutions are set to revolutionize the integration of disability affairs into the national fabric, as outlined by the Minister for State President, Kabo Morwaeng. Morwaeng highlighted the alignment of this act with the global Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), underlining Botswana’s commitment to international standards in disability rights.
During his address to Parliament, Morwaeng disclosed Botswana’s inaugural CRPD report submission to the UN, underscoring the nation’s dedication to global dialogue on disability rights. Furthermore, he unveiled plans for a comprehensive assessment to understand the socio-economic realities of disabled individuals and their families. This initiative, complemented by the strengthening of existing programs, aims to empower this community, ensuring their integration and prosperity in society
Morwaeng’s call to action was clear. He urged a collective shift in developmental agendas to accommodate and prioritize disability issues, advocating for an inclusive societal framework.
An ambitious budget of P35,631,600 has been allocated to bridge gaps in Disability Economic Empowerment, alongside critical studies and the establishment of the National Emergency Operations Centre. Concluding his presentation, Morwaeng appealed to fellow governmental departments to allocate funds diligently to fulfill CRPD and Persons with Disabilities obligations, marking a new chapter in Botswana’s legislative history towards inclusive development.
Kabo Matlho, a luminary whose fame once graced the grand finale of My Star, is poised to enchant the music realm once more with an upcoming solo venture—an RnB and Hip-Hop Extended Play (EP)—heralding his grand resurgence after a hiatus that spoke volumes.
During a telephonic confab with our editors, the virtuoso, navigating the world from the confines of his wheelchair, confided that while the exact launch date of the EP remains shrouded in mystery, he is fervently working towards a mid-2024 reveal. Matlho shared the trials of his odyssey, especially the cold shoulder he received from the industry ambushes, crediting the harsh exclusion to his physical predicament.
“The scene calls me once more, for the absence has been both a sabbatical and a shadow. The road for an artist, enveloped in the embrace of wheels, is strewn with fewer welcomes and scarce stages. Yet, herein I forge my return, with the precise hour of my EP’s birth still nestled in the coming chapters, assuredly within this year’s embrace,” Matlho unveiled with a determination that shone bright.
Probed on his choice for a solo EP, the melody weaver expressed a desire to not only rekindle his essence but to stand solitary under the spotlight, nurturing his brand to vigor before possibly blending it with the talents of others—once his career phoenix rises anew from its ashes.
Elaborating on his Extended Play, Matlho shared visions of its essence, where the soul of RnB intertwines with the spirited rhythm of Hip-Hop, crafting an audial tapestry that not only returns to his roots but also ventures into previously uncharted territories of his musical domain. With resilience, Matlho faces the crossroads of his artistry, embracing the whisperings of Hip-Hop that tease the boundaries of his comfort, embarking on this path with a heart both apprehensive and ablaze.
The Botswana DanceSport Association (BODANSA) has been graced with a financial boon of P45,000 courtesy of Turnstar Holdings. This generous endowment is earmarked for the illustrious Botswana International Dance Sport Grand Prix Championships, which are scheduled to animate Gaborone from Friday to Saturday.
At a media engagement held early today, BODANSA’s Marketing Maestro, Tiro Ntwayagae, shared that Turnstar Holdings Limited has bestowed a gift of P45,000 towards the grand spectacle.
“We are thrilled to announce that this backing will enable us to orchestrate a cultural soirée at the Game City Marque locale, a night brimming with cultural fervor set for March 1, 2024, from 6pm to the stroke of midnight.
This enchanting space will also serve as the battleground for the preliminaries of traditional dance ensembles—spanning the rhythmically rich Setapa to the euphoric beats of Sebirwa, the spirited Seperu, the heavenly Hosana, and more—in a competition folded into the Traditional Dance Groups Category. The ensemble that dances into the judges’ hearts will clinch a grand prize of P10,000,” elaborated Ntwayagae.
He further illuminated that the cultural eve would not only celebrate traditional melodies but also the fresh beats of contemporary dance variants including Hip Hop, Sbujwa, Amapiano, among others, in a dazzling display of modern dance mastery.
Moreover, these championships carry the prestigious recognition by the World DanceSport Federation as a qualifying round for the Breakdance category for the Paris 2024 Olympics. “This is a monumental opportunity for athletes to leap towards their Olympic dreams during one of the penultimate qualifiers,” underscored Ntwayagae.
Looking ahead to March 2, 2024, the festivities will propel into the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena for the championship’s climactic showdowns encompassing Breakdance, Latin, and Ballroom Dancing.