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Batswana have Spoken!

In any democracy, the electorate’s vote should be regarded as sacred. Sacred because it is cast by human beings, the Ultimate Being’s nearest resemblance. Sacrosanct because when humans vote it is the closest they express of their desire to live a ‘heaven’ in earth, at least in material terms and in peace of mind. Hallowed because when humans vote, few are motivated by evil, but by the desire to better their lives. Sanctified because when humans vote, they are seldom motivated by divisive ideologies, but by a genuine desire to elevate their quality of life.

As Batswana voted on 24th October they hoped for one thing, a better life. Granted, because of affinity to various political parties, away from the polling stations, they were clad in various political party regalia and chanted differing political slogans and songs. Yet, the bottom line for them is a dream for a better life, not only for the Members of Parliament (MPs) and Councilors they have voted for, but also and mainly for themselves, their children and grandchildren.

When this article was posted at about 5:00 am on 25th October, in terms of Council seats, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was leading. It was not yet clear which will be second and third between the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP). If this trend continues, the BDP will undoubtedly return to power. Though you have not voted for the BDP you should respect the voice of those who voted for it. Similarly, though the BCP and the UDC will have lost elections, the Batswana who voted for them should not be undermined. Their voice remains sacred.

It is one’s hope that the whirl winds which bedeviled us on the evening of 23rd October will not characterize the state of our politics going forward. It is hoped that the destruction, albeit negligible, that resulted from the whirl winds is not the Ultimate Being’s warning of how our democracy can be disturbed if things are not done properly.

On the contrary, one hopes that the rains that drizzled in some of the constituencies, halting voting in such areas as Kotolaname, are the Ultimate Being’s sign of the peace that will prevail in our country post these elections. After all, Batswana have, in their magnanimity, demonstrated once again that they are a peace loving people by remaining calm during the run up to the elections and during the elections themselves, proving those who had insinuated that there may be chaos wrong.

Batswana have, after a long five years, spoken. If they return the BDP to power for the eleventh time since independence they will have shown one of two things. Either that the BDP has done really well in satisfying their needs or it has failed as the Opposition, trade unions, most media houses and interest groups and political commentators suggest, but the Opposition’s messages and demeanor have not been compelling enough to change Batswana’s political convictions. On the contrary, if any of the opposition parties wins, Batswana will have bought into the message of change propagated by the Opposition.

Either way, Batswana have spoken and their wisdom cannot be questioned. The thousands of Batswana who will have, aware of all the iniquities the BDP is accused of, still voted for it are certainly as wise as those who will have voted for the Opposition despite its alleged weaknesses. Both are wise for just as there are the unwise among them there are the wise and the two aggregate each other.

Batswana have spoken and if the BDP wins the elections their vote will indicate, inter alia, that the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) is not as politically influential as it thinks it is for despite its public support for the UDC and publication of the so-called ‘hit list’ which but for the BCP’s Honorable Dumelang Saleshando comprises members of the BDP, the BDP will remain in power. However, if the BDP loses the elections, BOFEPUSU will have been right and it will go down in history as a real vanguard to Botswana’s democratic revolution.

Batswana have spoken and if the BDP wins the elections their vote will indicate that such blemishes to our democracy as the BDP’s monopoly of the public media; lack of independence of such institutions as the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), the Ombudsman and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC); and the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS)’s alleged extra judicial killings are not decisive for them.

Perhaps most Batswana never got to know or be concerned about the killing of John Kalafatis and the alleged assassination of Gomolemo Motswaledi.  Perhaps such issues are only decisive for the learned few and the urban dwellers, a significant number of whom do not vote. If any of the opposition parties wins it will be indicative of the fact that the alleged public outcry around the aforesaid issues was warranted.  

Batswana have spoken, and if the BDP wins the elections it is perhaps the stability that most Batswana, especially the elderly, often say they see in the BDP as opposed to the Opposition’s alleged proneness to conflict and splits, that will have swung the voter’s pendulum in BDP’s favor. Or, though the BDP has also started suffering from the same ailments as the Opposition in terms of poor conflict management as evidenced by the number of Independent Candidates who left the party after losing the primary elections, Batswana regard the BDP as the better devil than the one they know not.

Batswana have spoken, and if the BDP wins the elections it is perhaps President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s so-called pet projects that its critics, including the Opposition, condemn as populist and unsustainable that really counted for the majority of the voters, especially the poor and those living in rural areas.

Perhaps what we, the affluent and middle class, regard as a slave wage from the Ipelegeng and National Service projects really makes a difference in someone’s life. Perhaps the constituency tournaments that are condemned as political and not developmental enough really matter for the desperate youths who are stuck in villages and have nothing else to do.

Batswana have spoken, and if the BDP wins the elections, perhaps in the eyes of an average Motswana President Khama is not the dictator that he is accused of being. Perhaps, it is his accessibility even to the poorest of the poor; his desire, albeit through ill-informed programmes, to uplift Batswana from poverty; and his visits to even the remotest parts of Botswana that have really counted in the BDP’s favor. Perhaps, though he is blamed for his ‘broken’ Setswana, it is his attempt to speak Setswana that Batswana admire. No doubt, if any opposition party wins, it will be a vote of no confidence on President Khama himself.

Batswana have spoken. Now is not the time for opinion polls and commentary from academics, analysts and commentators to take the centre stage. Now is not the time for suppositions and hypotheses, but the time for actuals. Now, it is Batswana who should take the centre stage. It is Batswana who should be queens and kings. One only hopes that Batswana’s queenship and kingship will not end immediately after they have secured employment for the MPs and Councilors, but that they will continue as such until the next elections.

If our MPs and Councilors can, post elections, continue giving the voters the reverence they gave them during the campaign period our people would truly be served. If the poor and disadvantaged people the Council and Parliamentary candidates used as campaign teams and paid with food, cellphone airtime and alcohol continue to matter, the elections would indeed be worth the millions spent holding them.     

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

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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

… 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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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    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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