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UDC: Beyond the Success!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH


It is inarguable that having obtained seventeen out of the fifty-seven elective parliamentary seats, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) emerged from the just ended general elections as the greatest victor. Yet, if not properly managed this success can turn out to be the party’s greatest undoing. In this article, I consider the things that, beyond this success, the UDC should do or not do in order to maintain its position as the main Opposition party in Parliament and to stand a better chance of winning the next general elections.

Firstly, the UDC should commit to the agreements made with respect to recognition of the coalition partners-the Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). These agreements, which relate to such aspects as allocation of party leadership positions, dispute resolutions procedures, relations with each other in the media, resource sharing, e.t.c are as important now as they were before the general elections. In fact, it can be successfully argued that they are more important now that the dust has settled and things are more visible than they were before the general elections.

Secondly, the UDC should, in the true spirit of a coalition or co-operation model, not attempt to blur the ideological differences between its member parties. In other words, though it should speak with one voice, especially in Parliament and in public, it should not behave like one political party.

If it does, the followers of the member parties will lack a sense of belonging and be prone to being lured into joining either the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) or Botswana Congress Party (BCP). Also, if it does, in the case of the BNF, members of the Temporary Platform and such of BNF leader, Duma Boko,’s adversaries as Gabriel Kanjabanga and Lemogang Ntime, will be vindicated in their long held view that the three-year old UDC is bad since it will destroy the forty-five year old BNF.

Thirdly, the UDC should, if the BCP were to seek to join it, ensure that the negotiations commence as soon as possible. A clear time frame should be set for the negotiations so that a decision is made at least two years before the next general elections. This will avoid a situation where the issues emanating from failed cooperation talks spill into the election year, a thing which the BDP will relish.

To attain such timely resolution of the BCP’s possible membership of the coalition and to demonstrate good faith, the UDC need not wait for the BCP to initiate the talks. In fact, it is my view that if the UDC initiated the talks there would be more prospects of success than if they were initiated by the BCP or by an independent convener.  

Also, though the BCP has been bruised following its dismal performance in the just ended general elections, if it seeks to join the UDC, the UDC should not take advantage of that and be arrogant towards the BCP. Of course the BCP made a tactical error by walking away from the cooperation talks and of course the UDC has been vindicated, but that should not detract the UDC from the bigger picture-wrestling power from the BDP when it will be at its weakest in the forthcoming general elections following President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s departure. There is no doubt that the UDC and the BCP will need each other for that to happen.

Further, should the BCP seek to join the UDC and indeed be admitted into the fold, the BNF, as the biggest party in the coalition, should not make the mistake of abandoning or beginning to undermine its smaller coalition partners- the BMD and the BPP. Small as they may be, they assisted the BNF when it mattered the most and as ‘cautious sons’ who remained in the family when the ‘prodigal son’ left, they should not be forsaken when the ‘prodigal son’ returns home.

On the other hand, the ‘cautious sons’ should not react with animosity and vengeance when the ‘prodigal son’ returns for in the dirty game of numbers that politics is, it unfortunately matters not whether one is prodigal or cautious. Similarly, though I am opposed to an alliance between a political party and a trade union, the UDC should not wantonly abandon the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU). If it does, as I pray it does, sever its relationship with BOFEPUSU it should do so carefully and only after ensuring that BOFEPUSU assists it to establish and strengthen its Labour Committee.       

Fourthly, the UDC should not bask in the glory of its success for too long for the BDP and the BCP may take advantage of that and make political strides which the UDC, after its recline, may find too far to catch up with. This is the dark cloud that befell the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama in the United States of America(USA) who, after the 2008 ‘

Yes, we can’ victory, fell into a slumber only for the Republicans to humiliate them in this year’s elections by gaining a majority in both the Congress and the Senate. Though it is not the governing party and cannot implement the policies and programmes espoused in its manifesto, the UDC should use Parliamentary debates and Parliament’s Question Time to give the voters a feel of how it can perform when in government. The UDC should make Parliamentary debates as robust as they were during the days of Dr. Kenneth Koma, Paul Rantao and Maitshwarelo Dabutha.

Fifthly, the UDC needs to, as early as now, renew itself. That is what the USA’s Republican Party did after the 2008 elections. Though its growth was largely assisted by its Tea Party Movement, it renewed itself by reconsidering its position on such issues as immigration.

It is this renewal which will ensure that the UDC not only retains those who voted for it this year, but also attracts new members from those who did not vote as well as those who voted for the BDP and the BCP. If the BDP which won the elections is, less than a month after the general elections, already reportedly crafting a tag line to counter the UDC’s “Moono ke one oo”, the UDC should, no doubt, also be planning a revival. If the UDC fails to plan a timeous rebirth, the BDP’s new tag line, which is rumored to be “Thulaganyo”, may take ground and force the UDC to be on the defensive, something which is never good, especially in politics.

Sixthly, the UDC needs to inculcate a culture of stewardship, especially among its Councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs). It is only stewardship and not such material things as wealth, educational qualifications and flamboyance of speech that will ensure their re-election in the next general elections. It is incontrovertibly only stewardship which ensured that one of the UDC’s best sons, the late Gomolemo Motswaledi, became so revered especially in death that through his death he earned the UDC sympathy and electoral success.

But, from the next elections onwards Motswaledi’s name and mysterious death will have begun to fade from the voters’ memory that the UDC may no longer be able to milk it. If such MPs as MP for Gaborone Central, Honorable Phenyo Butale, who largely won elections because of Motswaledi’s name, do not become stewards and serve their people well, this may be their one and only term in Parliament. This would be regrettable considering the value they are already adding to their constituents’ lives.

Last, but not least, the UDC should encourage its Councilors, MPs and party leaders to respect the Setswana idiom “Ere go bona bodiba bo jeleng ngwana wa ga mmaago obo kakologe”, meaning that one should avoid following the perilous route that cost his or her fellow human being’s life.

UDC Councilors, MPs and party leaders should avoid the crimes, corruption, maladministration and such personal indiscretions as alcohol and drug abuse and infidelity that cost several of their colleagues Council and Parliamentary seats. Simply put, the UDC should practice what it preaches. Behavior should not only be condemned as a malady or indiscretion when it relates to a BDP leader and be condoned when it relates a UDC member.    

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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
Samson

… 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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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

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 www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    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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