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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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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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