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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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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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