The election is over. Congratulations to Batswana who made their voice heard. The voice was clear and as is the case, the voice of the people is the voice of God. So it is clear what God is saying to us. We must heed this ominous message. Batswana have been ready for change of government for at least the past fifteen years.
What has impeded this change is clear; failure by the opposition parties to work together despite having same ideology and same policies and belonging together. God hates divisions especially those motivated by selfishness and He says ‘a divided house… will not stand’. Motlhalefi mongwe o kile a bua are a ba ba sentseng ba baakanye.
BNF take over of government in 1999 was eminent. Everyone who cared was aware of it and BDP was extremely concerned about this prospect. Mysteriously and timely for BDP, BCP was born. This gave BDP an undeserved new lease of life that denied Batswana an opportunity to experience a new government. It has happened again this year; BDP is back in power thanks to same selfish tendencies. Combined opposition would have easily secured over 30 seats in parliament.
It is extremely disappointing that after the people for the first time have spoken so eloquently through the ballot box, that they want BCP to be part of the UDC, BCP leader and some of his cohorts are now telling Batswana that they did not make a mistake by pulling out of the UMBRELLA TALKS. They are happy to go it alone. Clearly they are not able to listen and understand the voice of the people and hence the voice of God.
The BCP language is not changing. It is the same language they used when BCP was formed. They vowed and bragged then with the same arrogance that they displayed at the rally they held in old Naledi on Sunday. In 1998 and subsequent years they openly bragged that they did not need BNF to win and will never work with BNF.
On Sunday they were on a warpath again saying they cannot be part of the UDC formation. Ao batho! Is this not strange coming from a party that sponsored the Umbrella model (during the first opposition cooperation talks) as the only viable model for opposition cooperation and pact model as a none starter?
Is it not strange coming from a party that started the umbrella talks with other opposition parties and said any party that walks away from the Umbrella talks should be punished by the voters? Is it not strange coming from a leader who walked away from the same talks on account of disagreement on allocation of two constituencies and then wanted a pact with BNF instead? Is it not strange that the same leader after being severely punished by the voters as per his own instruction is now blaming UDC for the voters who exercised their democratic right to punish him and his party?
Is it not strange that Mr. Saleshando is now saying he wants to consult on the model of cooperation, which model he introduced in 2004 and continued to champion in 2011? Is it not strange that he is now saying UDC is the same as BDP? Batswana can read between the lines. We are not stupid. The voters are saying to you, ‘if you do not want to cooperate with others, good luck to you, but we will punish you even more severely next time’.
BCP likes to play with statistics. They see themselves as the fastest growing party in the land and therefore they think they will eventually win without the other parties. Mr. Saleshando likes talking about these numbers. I want to tell him that statistics can lie big time. Statistics will tell you whatever you want to hear and Mr. Saleshando with respect must know that.
Let the following numbers from these elections talk to you for a minute;
Description No of voters Percentage (%)
Eligible voters 1,500,000 100%
People who registered to vote 824,000 55%
People who voted for BDP 321,000 21%
People who voted for UDC s 207,000 14%
People who voted for BCP 141,000 9%
People who voted for Mekoko & spoilt votes 30,000 2%
People who voted 699,000 47%
People who registered and not voted 125,000 8%
People who did not register to vote 676,000 45 %
Total people who did not vote 801,000 53%
These numbers show another story that is being ignored by all the political parties. There are 1,500,000 eligible voters in Botswana. Just fewer than 700,000 voted. Over 800 000 (53%) of eligible voters did not vote (only 47 % voted). There are three groups of people IEC and the opposition parties should be concerned about. These are:
People who did not register (676,000)
People who registered but did not vote (125, 000)
People who voted for independents (Mekoko) and spoilt votes (30,000).
Until you significantly reach these people, the talk of growth is hollow. I suggest that all the parties through parliament, should demand that IEC as part of their mandate, should conduct a basic study to determine why people did not register in such large numbers, why so many people who registered did not vote, why did we have so many independents and spoilt votes? This will help the IEC and the political parties to shape their strategies and prepare for the next elections.
My guess is that the people who did not register could not be bothered because they believed their vote would not make any difference in their lives. Their vote would not change the status quo. They did not believe the opposition was ready to lead this country.
Some were disappointed with the infighting within the opposition parties especially BNF and failure by BCP to join UDC. Some could perhaps not tolerate the long lines and inconvenience associated with queuing for registering and voting.
For the people who registered and did not register, it could be a result of our rigid electoral system that requires that you vote where you registered. People especially the unemployed move regularly from district to district in search for jobs and this requirement does restrict and disenfranchise many.
For the many independents and spoilt votes, it is most probably driven by poor internal party democracy and in some cases selfishness and unwillingness to accept defeat. Spoilt votes are most probably due to ignorance and or anxiety by these voters and IEC should find workable strategies to address to address this.
The question that should be at the lips of all the political parties should be, what should we do to get the 801,000 people to register and vote for us? For the opposition, they have their work cut out for them. There must unite under the Umbrella.
BCP in particular must swallow its pride, stop accusing UDC for their failure and stop trivilising the issues by saying they are the only party concerned about job creation, education for production, low wages and painting UDC as the same as BDP. This is cheap and will get BCP deep in the mud.
The majority (54%) of those who voted chose the opposition. The fact that the ruling party got only 46 % of the voters and is leading the country is not only an indictment on our ill-advised electoral system but also on the opposition parties who failed to unite.
Those who think there is some difference between UDC and BCP must think again. They all believe in social democracy. Their policies are the same and mainly drawn from BNF. The only notable difference is their party colours. The other differences are artificial and personal mainly driven by egocentric pride and intoxicating desire to be in front (lead) at the exclusion of others.
In conclusion UDC must remain focused on consolidating its gains under the Umbrella. The focus on individual parties must slowly fade away. UDC must with humility and strength of character continue to work towards bringing BCP to join the UDC.
They must continue to bring non aligned people to their ranks. The principled stand demonstrated by its leader DGB will bring in more people under the Umbrella shelter. Any other model other than the Umbrella will be retrogressive and must be rejected outright.
UDC must be careful of Khama’s friendly gestures. These gestures are most likely meant to derail UDC from its focus. Any dealings with Khama must be based on principle and clear conditions set out for any envisaged engagement. The confusion, Khama has already created in parliament by taking parliament to court is a clear indication that Khama cannot be trusted.
We look up to UDC and DGB to closely mark Khama to protect the interest of our people and our country. If it means bringing Khama to his knees before 2019, so be it. Good luck to all the parties and all Batswana as we start the march towards 2019.
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.
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.
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.