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Botswana unlikely to have a hung Parliament!

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH

For the past three weeks, we have been discussing the possibility or lack thereof of this year’s general elections producing a hung Parliament. This week, we conclude that Botswana is unlikely to have a hung Parliament, and that the BDP will win!
 
In the first article, we attempted to answer this question by making deductions from the political parties’ historical performance at the polls, starting from 1965.Our conclusion was that the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), Alliance for Progressives (AP), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Khama factors, counterbalanced with the Masisi factor, make this year’s elections too close to call, at least based on the political parties’ historical performance alone.

In the second article, we attempted to answer this question by considering the threat to the BDP, if any, posed by the UDC (with the Botswana Congress Party (BCP)) in collaboration with the BPF, albeit without the BMD and the AP. In particular, we examined the constituencies which the BDP unexpectedly lost to the UDC in 2014, the question being whether the UDC will retain them or the BDP will wrestle them back. We concluded that of the eight constituencies which the UDC unexpectedly wrestled from the BDP in 2014, it is likely to retain six and lose two.

In our view, the UDC is likely to retain Gaborone Bonnington North, Gaborone Bonnington South, Gaborone North, Molepolole North, Tlokweng and Mogoditshane, putting six seats in the bag.  But the same cannot be said about Ghanzi North and Molepolole South. In the third article, we considered whether the Opposition will retain the constituencies it currently holds other than the ones discussed earlier, the question being whether the Opposition will retain them or the BDP will win them.

These constituencies are Kanye South, Goodhope-Mabule, Maun West, Selibe Phikwe West, Gabane-Mankgodi, Mochudi West, Mochudi East, Francis town South, Ramotswa, Jwaneng-Mabutsane, Gaborone Central and Molepolole South. We concluded that of these twelve constituencies, the Opposition is likely to retain three, namely Maun West, Selibe Phikwe West and Gaborone Central. The remaining nine are doubtful, with the Opposition and the ruling BDP standing an equal chance.    

This week we look at the BDP held constituencies and consider those it stands the risk of losing to the Opposition. These constituencies, most of which are the BDP’s traditional stronghold, are Serowe South, Serowe West, Serowe North, Palapye, Kanye North, Thamaga-Kumakwane, Takatokwane, Selibe Phikwe East, Bobonong, Letlhakeng-Lephephe, Mahalapye West, Mmadinare, Mmathethe-Molapowabojang, Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Shashe-West, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Chobe, Lerala-Maunatlala, Ngami, Okavango, Nata-Gweta, Gaborone South, Moshupa-Manyana, Shoshong, Tati East, Tati West, Boteti West, Boteti East, Tonota, Lobatse, Francis town West, Francis town East and Maun East.

We start with Serowe South, Serowe West, Serowe North and Palapye which, if it were not for the BPF and Khama factors, would, in my view, be retained by the BDP with wide margins. In my view, the BDP will lose Serowe West to the BPF following Tshekedi Khama II’s defection from the BDP to the BPF. Of course, the UDC vote will come in handy for the BPF, but even without it Khama II, who will be contesting against the BDP’s Moemedi Dijeng, will still win.

In my view, the 5,401 votes which Khama II got in 2014, beating his nearest contender by 4,453 votes, were not only because he was a BDP candidate. In my view, they were mainly because of him personally as a son to the nation’s founding president, the late Sir Seretse Khama. Of course, the BDP’s Kgotla Autlwetse will lose some voters in Serowe North because of the BPF and Khama factor, but considering his popularity, the 9,611 votes he got in 2019, and the splitting of votes between the Opposition and the Independent candidate, Ramadeluka Seretse, Autlwetse will, no doubt, emerge victorious.

Serowe South, whose outgoing Member of Parliament (MP) is Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, who has remained with the BDP despite speculation that she will defect to the BPF following her dissatisfaction with the BDP’s April presidential elections, from which she withdrew at the 11th hour, is likely to be retained by the BDP. This, not because the BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego, is a formidable force, but because the Opposition has no strong candidate.  

North East is also a traditionally safe district for the BDP. It is in that regard that even with the BPF and Khama support, Tati East and Tati West are almost in the bag for the BDP. Not even the fact that the BPF will be represented by its president, Biggie Butale, may sway the votes for the BPF.

The BDP may lose Bobonong. In 2014, Shaw Kgathi beat the BCP’s Taolo Lucas by 7,350 votes to 7,230 votes, surviving by a mere 120 votes. Some opine that were the BCP part of the UDC, and had it not been for the 162 votes obtained by an Independent candidate, Kgaulelo Machete, Lucas would have won. I agree.

In my view, therefore, Lucas, whose party is now part of the UDC, and has the support of the BPF and Khama himself, is likely to win. Afterall, his contender, Francisco Kgobokwe, is not a strong candidate. Worse still, because his Bulela Ditswe with Kgathi was so contested that it went for a rerun, some BDP voters who are sympathetic to Kgathi may stay away during polling day, something which can give Lucas an urge.

The BDP may also lose Lerala-Maunatlala. Prince Maele, who will be standing as an independent candidate, following his suspension from the BDP, is likely to win considering his popularity and the 6,356 votes he got in 2014, beating his nearest contender, independent candidate, Setlhabelo Modukanele, by 2,241 votes.

In Sefhare-Ramokgonami, it is doubtful whether even with the UDC and Khama factor, the UDC’s Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang will overturn the 1,552 margin he suffered in 2014 at the hands of his nemesis, Dorcus Makgato, who may be buoyed by the women’s vote because she is chairperson of her party’s Women’s Wing. The fact that she is inarguably President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s greatest cheer leader who is prepared to take on the Khamas may also boost her because the anti-Masisi sentiments are not high in the constituency.

The ‘principal residence’ court challenge, at the instance of the BCP, which she won, is likely to have attracted her some votes since the challenge may have been interpreted by some as an effort to get rid of her because they know she will emerge victorious at the polls. In my view, in Boteti West, were it not because the UDC’s Sam Digwa may lose votes because of his association with Khama, and because Slumber Tsogwane may have the advantage of being Vice President, Digwa would win this year’s elections.

In 2014, Tsogwane beat Digwa by 5,790 votes to 5,549, surviving by a mere 241 votes. This margin may be obliterated by the BCP vote, considering that in 2014 the BCP’s Tjiliga B. Letsholo got 622 votes. In my view, were the BMD still part of the UDC, Lobatse would likely return to the Opposition. This is so because the BCP, whose 534 votes for Ellias Rantleru in 2014, assisted the BDP’s Sadique Kebonang to beat the UDC’s Nehemiah Modubule with 489 votes.

The BDP’s Dr. Thapelo Matsheka may, therefore, benefit from the split of the Opposition and independent candidates’ votes, the result being that the 5,530 combined Opposition vote of 2014 may come to naught. The BDP may lose Gaborone South. If the BCP vote really comes into play, the UDC’s Nelson Ramaotwana may emerge triumphant over the BDP’s Meshack D. Mthimkhulu.

This is so because in 2014, the UDC and BCP’s combined vote was 5,947 compared to 3,872 for the BDP’s Kagiso P. Molatlhegi. In fact, Molatlhegi beat the UDC’s Murry Dipate by a mere 243 votes. Also, Molatlhegi, who was preoccupied by his role as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, did not do much for his constituency. In 2014, the BCP’s Bagalatia Arone beat the BDP’s Mbaha A. Kambimba by 6,864 votes to 5,473, with the UDC’s Vister Moruti getting a paltry 215 votes. Ordinarily, this would place the UDC in good stead, especially that the BCP is now part of it.  

But that may not be the case. As you are aware, Arone defected from the BCP and will be contesting under the BDP. In 2014, Arone and Kambimba garnered a total of 12,337 votes between themselves. No doubt, Arone will have lost some votes following his defection from the BCP, but, in my view, these will be mitigated by the BCP supporters who followed him to the BDP and Kambimba’s supporters. So, the UDC’s Kenny Kapinga is unlikely to win.

If it were not for the spoiler vote that independent candidate, Kopano M. Rannatshe, is likely to cause to the detriment of the UDC’s Ofentse Khumomotse, the latter would win the Thamaga-Kumakwane constituency this year. This is so because in 2014, the UDC and BCP combined vote totaled 7,155, exceeding the BDP’s Tshenolo Mabeo by 102 votes, and this year the BCP is part of the UDC.

In my view, though Rannatshe garnered a whopping 6,281 votes in 2014, Khumomotse stands a better chance than him because Rannatshe has contested elections about three times and lost. He also lost the party’s primary elections to Khumomotse. Rannatshe’s greatest asset, however, is the BNF’s traditional support base he may have built over the years.      

In conclusion, I think the BDP will retain Serowe South, Serowe North, Palapye, Kanye North, Takatokwane, Selibe Phikwe East, Letlhakeng-Lephephe, Mahalapye West, Mmadinare, Mmathethe-Molapowabojang, Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Shashe-West, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Chobe, Ngami, Okavango, Nata-Gweta, Moshupa-Manyana, Shoshong, Tati East, Tati West, Boteti East, Tonota, Lobatse, Francis town West, Francis town East and Maun East. Thamaga-Kumakwane is uncertain.

If this were to come to pass, and the BDP also wins Thamaga-Kumakwane, it would have the 29 seats which are required to form a government. The BDP’s envisaged loss of Serowe West, Bobonong, Lerala-Maunatlala, Boteti West and Gaborone South would, therefore, be of no consequence. The same applies to the UDC’s envisaged retention of Gaborone Bonnington North, Gaborone Bonnington South, Gaborone North, Molepolole North, Tlokweng and Mogoditshane.

This is especially true because the Opposition is likely to lose Ghanzi North, Molepolole South, Kanye South, Goodhope-Mabule, Gabane-Mankgodi, Mochudi West, Mochudi East, Francis town South, Ramotswa and Jwaneng-Mabutsane.
   
Ndulamo Anthony Morima

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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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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020
FATED “JIHADI” JOHN

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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