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Is Botswana headed for a hung Parliament (Part 1)?

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH

Unlike in 2014 when it was clear that either the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) or Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) would win the general elections, this year it is not clear, with some opining that we may have a hung Parliament.

In this two-part series, we interrogate this issue. This week, we attempt to answer this question by making deductions from the political parties’ historical performance at the polls, starting from 1965. Next week, we attempt to answer this question by considering the threat to the BDP, if any, posed by the UDC (with the BCP) in collaboration with the BPF, albeit without the BMD and the AP. The BDP’s National Campaigns Manager, Tebelelo Seretse, is among those who do not agree that Botswana will have a hung Parliament after this year’s general elections scheduled for 23rd October 2019.

She is quoted in the Weekend Post’s online edition of 9th September 2019 saying “…realistically we are looking at the popular vote of above 52 percent since we didn’t do so well in the past elections…” She continues to say “…we are looking at about 60 or 65 percent popular vote if we have failed. In terms of constituencies we are looking at anything less than 50…” Seretse, however, seems to contradict herself when she says “…of course these elections are different because we don’t have what we may call safe constituencies because of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF)…”

But being the politician she is she quickly remedied the seeming contradiction when she said “…but we are confident that we will win because we have goodwill and the fact that AP ( Alliance for Progressives) and BMD (Botswana Movement for Democracy) are not part of the UDC is a plus to us.” In my view, it is what Seretse said first, as regards the BPF factor, and I would add, the AP and BMD factor, that may make Botswana, for the first time since independence, have a hung Parliament. But before we make any conclusions in that regard, we need to discuss factors that may lead to a hung Parliament.

For a country to have a hung Parliament one or both of two things must happen. In a first-past-the-post system like ours, this happens when the ruling party loses parliamentary seats in a significant way and/or the Opposition gains a significant number of parliamentary seats. In my view, in 2014, were it not for the Botswana Congress Party (BCP)’s disaffiliation from the UDC we could have had a hung Parliament or the UDC’s victory because the BDP lost 8 parliamentary seats while the UDC and the BCP collectively gained 11 parliamentary seats.

In terms of the first-past-the-post system, considering that we currently have 57 parliamentary constituencies, a party needs to win 29 parliamentary seats in order to form a government. Before the 2014 general elections this was not an issue for the BDP. The question is: will passing the post or threshold required to form a government be an issue for the BDP this year? As stated earlier, this week we attempt to answer this question by making deductions from the political parties’ historical performance at the polls, starting from 1965.

In 1965, there were 31 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 16 seats to form a government. The BDP won 28 seats compared to the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s 3 seats. It obtained 80.4% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 19.6%. In 1969, there were 31 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 16 seats to form a government. The BDP won 24 seats compared to 3, 1 and 3 for the BNF, Botswana Independence Party (BIP) and Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP) respectively. It obtained 68.83% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 31.67%.

In 1974, there were 32 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 17 seats to form a government. The BDP won 29 seats compared to 2 and 1 for the BNF and BPP respectively. It obtained 76.62% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 23.41%. In 1979, there were 32 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 17 seats to form a government. The BDP won 29 seats compared to 2 and 1 for the BNF and BPP respectively. It obtained 75.16% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 25.34%.

In 1984, there were 34 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 18 seats to form a government. The BDP won 29 seats compared to 4 and 1 for the BNF and BPP respectively. It obtained 68.00% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 32.00%. In 1989, there were 34 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 18 seats to form a government. The BDP won 31 seats compared to 4 for the BNF. It obtained 64.78% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 34.84%.

In 1994, there were 40 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 21 seats to form a government. The BDP won 27 seats compared to 13 for the BNF. It obtained 54.59% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 45.95%. In 1999, there were 40 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 21 seats to form a government. The BDP won 33 seats compared to 6 and 1 for the BNF and BCP respectively. It obtained 54.34% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 40.73%.

In 2004, there were 57 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 29 seats to form a government. The BDP won 44 seats compared to 12 and 1 for the BNF and BCP respectively. It obtained 50.63% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 45.60%. In 2009, there were 57 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 29 seats to form a government. The BDP won 45 seats compared to 6, 4 and 1 for the BNF, BCP and Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) respectively. It obtained 52.24% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 45.83%.

In 2014, there were 57 parliamentary seats and a party needed to win 29 seats to form a government. The BDP won 37 seats compared to 17 and 3 for the UDC and BCP respectively. It obtained 46.7% of the popular vote compared to the combined Opposition’s 50.04%. In view of the above, one can conclude that our country’s political history, in terms of political party performance at the polls, can be divided into four phases.

The first phase is the period between 1965 and 1989 when the BDP had a free reign. This, I submit, was mainly because of the popularity of its founding president, who was paramount chief of BaNgwato, the late Sir Seretse Khama. Incontrovertibly, judging by this phase alone, there is no way one can conclude that we may have a hung Parliament or that the BDP would lose elections. The second phase is 1994, when the BNF won a historic 13 seats, falling short of causing a hung Parliament or winning the elections by a mere 8 seats.  

In my view, if it were not for the splitting of votes among the other seven opposition political parties which contested the 1994 general elections, the BDP may have lost power.  These political parties were the BPP, Independence Freedom Party (IFP), Botswana Labour Party (BLP), Botswana Progressive Union (BPU), United Socialist Party (USP), Lesedi La Botswana (LLB) and United Democratic Front (UDF) which garnered 8.86% of the popular vote, but none of them gained a parliamentary seat.

Arguably, had these political parties entered into a coalition with the BNF, this 8.86% of the popular vote may have been increased because of the BNF’s electoral appeal at the time, something which could have given the BNF 8 seats which could at least have led to a hung Parliament. The third phase is the period between 1999 and 2009 when the BDP went back to its free reigning years. This, I submit, was mainly because of the damage caused by the BNF split of 1998 which gave birth to the BCP.

In my view, though the BCP won only one seat in 1999 and 2004, it split opposition votes in favor of the BDP. No doubt, the 11.31% and 16.27% of the popular vote which the BCP garnered in 1999 and 2004 respectively caused considerable damage to the Opposition’s chances of winning state power. The fourth phase is the year 2014 when the BDP could have lost power had it not been for the BCP’s disaffiliation from the UDC.

An analysis of the latter two phases shows one common trend. This is that, it is the Opposition’s splits and/or disaffiliations, mainly at the BCP’s instance, which made a hung Parliament or Opposition victory impossible. The question is: will this year, 2019, be any different? Once again, the Opposition goes to the polls limping. But this time, BCP is not the culprit. The culprits are the BMD and the AP. But just like 2014, this year is different. It is not only the Opposition which suffered a split. The BDP too suffered a split which gave birth to the BPF.

It is the BMD, AP, BPF and Khama factors, counterbalanced with the Masisi factor, which make this year’s elections difficult to call or too close to call, at least based on the political parties’ historical performance at the polls alone. The answer to the question: Is Botswana headed for a hung Parliament can, therefore, not be answered by considering the political parties’ historical performance at the polls alone. Hopefully, it will be answered next week after considering the threat to the BDP, if any, posed by the UDC (with the BCP) in collaboration with the BPF, albeit without the BMD and the AP.
   
 

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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