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Parks Tafa is the de facto Attorney General!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
Eagle Watch

When the constitutional drafters, at section 51(1) of the Constitution, stated that “there shall be an Attorney-General whose office shall be a public office” and proceeded at section 51(2) to state that “the Attorney-General shall be the principal legal adviser to the Government of Botswana” they knew that such an office is paramount for the proper functioning of the state.

By stating that the Attorney-General shall be the principal legal adviser to the Government of Botswana they envisaged an Attorney-General who shall advise not only the Executive, but also the Legislature and the Judicature. With respect to the former, that is why the Attorney-General is, in terms of section 58(2) (c) of the Constitution, a member of the National Assembly.

If advising the government entails protecting and defending it, our constitutional drafters envisaged an Attorney-General who shall protect and defend all arms of government, not just the Executive. In the case discussed hereunder, for example, the Attorney-General should be representing both the Executive and the Legislature.

Our constitutional drafters, in their wisdom, envisaged an Attorney-General to, being an Attorney by training and admission, and holding such esteemed office because she is a fit and proper person, render unassailable advice to all arms of government without fear or favor. By making the Attorney-General’s office public, the constitutional drafters wanted to put it above such sectarian interests as partisan politics, religious bias, cultural bias, e.t.c. They wanted it, at all times, to be guided by the public interest, not sectarian or private interest. They wanted its actions to always be clothed with public interest, not sectarian interest.

Yet, our Attorney-General seems to abrogate the duty assigned to her by the Constitution. As shall be shown below, her office has been reduced to that of Cabinet’s legal adviser. In fact, sometimes she acts more like the President’s legal adviser. Even more regrettable, her office seems to be more inclined to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) than it is to the government of Botswana.

The current case in which the Attorney-General is challenging the constitutionality of the Parliamentary Standing Orders which provide for the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and endorsement of the Vice President to be by a secret ballot as opposed to by show of hands shall be used to illustrate the assertions aforesaid. Also to be used is the ‘Essential Service’ case which followed the 2011 public sector strike.

By her own admission, the Attorney-General played a role, critical I submit, in the amendment of the Standing Orders, which amendment, less than two months after being adopted by Parliament, is said, by the Attorney-General herself, to be so unconstitutional that it warrants cessation of the endorsement and election of such important officials as the Vice President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly respectively.

If it is indeed the Attorney-General’s genuine belief that the Standing Orders, which were amended about two months before the general elections, are so unconstitutional only two inferences can be drawn, either she failed to advise the government properly or she advised the government properly, but government refused to heed her advice. If the former is the case, then the current Attorney-General should take personal responsibility and resign. Conversely, if the latter is the case we can only sympathize with her.

Rendering wrong advice in the honest belief that it is appropriate can be condoned. What cannot be condoned is rendering wrong advice knowing it to be wrong but rendering it nonetheless because of irrelevant considerations.

The fact that the amendments, which emanated from Honorable Prince Maele, a BDP Member of Parliament (MP), which were presumably endorsed by the BDP caucus and the Cabinet, and could only have been passed by Parliament because of the BDP’s majority in Parliament, are being challenged by the Attorney-General makes one wonder whether the Attorney-General’s application is truly motivated by public interest or other interests.

A question ought to be asked whether the Attorney-General truly failed to positively influence the proposed amendments both herself personally at Cabinet level and in Parliament through the Parliamentary Counsel who, for all intents and purposes, belongs to her office.

Also worrisome is the manner in which this matter started. It was started through a letter from a private law firm, Collins & Newman, whose senior partner, Parks Tafa, is a well-known BDP functionary and legal adviser for President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. In a surprising turn of events, the matter was taken over by the Attorney-General with the BDP cited as one of the Respondents.

That is not all. In an unprecedented manner, when the matter went to court, the BDP, represented by none other than Parks Tafa, effectively took over the role of the Attorney-General and acted as if it is the 1st Applicant or at least 2nd Applicant in the matter.

For example, contrary to the norm, Parks Tafa, as though the BDP was one of the Applicants in the matter attempted to exercise the right of reply after the Respondents presented their heads of argument, a privilege ordinarily reserved for Applicants. Also, in terms of substance, the BDP’s arguments were more informed and potentially persuasive than those of the Attorney-General.

The worry does not end there. It would be recalled that during the ‘Essential Service’ case which came after the 2011 public sector strike, the same Parks Tafa, despite being a private legal practitioner and despite the Attorney-General’s office having hundreds of competent Attorneys, represented government.

If Parks Tafa’s representation of government during the ‘Essential Service’ case and the current case is not a sign of government’s lack of confidence on the Attorney-General’s competence, it can only be that the Attorney-General would have advised government otherwise and government would be fearful that she cannot represent it whole heartedly.

It is my humble submission that Parks Tafa is, for all intents and purposes, the de facto Attorney-General of the Republic of Botswana. He is in fact the Attorney-General, while Dr. Athalia Molokomme is in law the Attorney-General.  

It is deplorable when a private citizen, aided by the Executive, because of allegiance to the ruling party and the President, factually usurps the powers of a constitutional office, let alone that of Attorney-General. One wonders how many government secret and confidential documents Parks Tafa accesses during the course of representing government in legal matters.

One also wonders whether if he were to commit a crime he can be prosecuted like any other citizen or the Attorney-General would be more inclined, or would be instructed, to declare a nolle prosequi and decline to prosecute him.

Were it not for our Judiciary which is largely independent, Parks Tafa, because of his political influence, would win all court cases not because he is the best Attorney in the country, but because of his association with the highest office in the land, the presidency.     

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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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