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Botswana human rights record under surveillance

BASARWA: They have a running battle with government over hunting ban and land rights
 


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is in Botswana to probe the country’s record on human rights particularly those pertaining to cultural enjoyment and freedom amongst others.


Botswana will be the eighth country to be visited by the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Farida Shaheed (Pakistan). She has presented damning and enlightening reports about other countries in her area of expertise. The purpose of visits is to understand, in the spirit of co-operation and dialogue, how States endeavour to implement cultural rights. The intent is to identify good practices in, and possible obstacles to, the promotion and protection of cultural rights in countries.


The office of the High Commissioner on Human rights explains that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is not to protect culture and cultural heritage per se, but to promote the conditions allowing all people without discrimination to access, participate and contribute to cultural life in a continuously developing manner.


The focus of Special Rapporteur’s country visits, they say, is not solely on visiting cultural sites and institutions, but rather on considering how particular policies, legal framework relating to such sites and institutions as well as other aspects of cultural heritage contribute to the realization of cultural rights on the ground.


“To that end, she would like to meet individuals and communities, managers of cultural sites and directors of cultural and educational institutions, policy makers and administrators,” they stated.


During her visit, the Special Rapporteur will consider different issues related to the enjoyment of cultural rights and specifically the ones related to the right to access and enjoy cultural heritage, including the issue of participation of concerned individuals and communities in the identification, classification, and stewardship of cultural heritage. The right to participate in cultural life, including the right to enjoy the arts, to freedom of artistic expression and creativity and to manifest one’s culture.


The Special Rapporteur would like to discuss these points also considering policies for example in the areas of education and tourism, adopted to ensure that the narratives of various groups, including historical narratives and the way they interpret their own cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, are expressed in the public space and are presented to the wider society.


There have been concerns that the constitution of the country must be reviewed to include social and cultural rights. The government has always maintained that they promote unity rather than things that will divide and fragment the nation into tribal or ethnic compartments.

This view has always been met with strong resistance from groups which posit that nation building should acknowledge, cherish and nurture the diversity of ethnic groups, language, and cultural traditions represented in the nation. Unity they posit is not synonymous with uniformity.


Others have raised the concern about the promotion of one language and one culture – which they say has resulted into the supremacy of Tswana tribes.


The Human Rights Council’s special Rapporteur will be confronted with some of these issues including those of the Basarwa who have been vocal and persistant in their campaigns of recognition.


The special Rappoteur was established by the Human Rights Council, for a period of three years, under  a new special procedure entitled “independent expert in the field of cultural rights”, as set out in the relevant United Nations human rights instruments.


The mandate of the Special Rapporteur includes among others identifying best practices in the promotion and protection of cultural rights at the local, national, regional and international levels, Identifying possible obstacles to the promotion and protection of cultural rights, among other roles.


The rapporteur intends to meet Government representatives including from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (in particular the Department of Arts and Culture), the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, and the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (in particular the Department of National Museum and Monuments as well as officials and /or other departments responsible for cultural and natural heritage).


Others in her list include managers of public institutions or other bodies relevant for the mission, including those responsible for the promotion of tourism (such as the Botswana Tourism Board); responsible for the preservation and safeguard of cultural heritage, tangible and intangible; supporting artists and artistic creation; dealing with the accreditation and dissemination of history textbooks; and in charge of population statistical data (such as Central Statistics Office).

The Special Rapporteur would also appreciate meeting the Ombudsman, academics, research institutes as well as artists and civil society organizations working in the field of cultural policies, cultural heritage and cultural rights as well as United Nations agencies.


The office says that her visit will close with a press conference in Gaborone at which the Special Rapporteur will provide her preliminary observations on the visit. Before the press conference, the Special Rapporteur would like to de-brief the Government of Botswana.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a report on her visit to the Human Rights Council in March 2015. The report will set out and analyse the discussions held during the visit and will make recommendations to a number of actors, including the Government of Botswana, so as to foster the realization of cultural rights. The Government will be given a draft of the report for comments before final submission.

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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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