According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes, and by extension all nationalistic Jewry, had been expecting the rise of two messiahs and one prophet-like figure in the mould of either Elijah or Moses. From time to time, counterfeit messiahs did suddenly burst onto the scene to declare a national revolution (particularly from amongst the ranks of the Zealots, e.g. Judas of Galilee), but the true-blue messiahs that were awaited were the messiah of Aaron and the messiah of David, the former from the tribe of Levi and the latter from the tribe of Judah.
In the first century, the two messiahs were anticipated through the seed of Joseph, the Davidic heir, and that of Zechariah, the lineal descendent of Aaron.
Until the time of Jeconiah, the last recognised Jewish King of Judah, high priests were appointed for life: if they stepped down, it was of their own discretion. In gospel times, they were appointed annually by the Herodian monarch and from 6 AD by the Roman governor.
Every year, the sitting high priest had to be either reappointed or relieved of his duties. These priests of the Jerusalem temple were not of the Levitical succession: they were purely political appointees foisted onto the Jewish populace and bore no relationship whatsoever to the House of Aaron.
It was the Essenes’ Qumran temple in the Judean wilderness that continued with the tradition of a Levitical high priest. At the turn of the first century, the Qumran high priest, also known as the Zadok priest, was Zechariah.
It is a pity that when Christians read of Zechariah serving in the temple, they take it for granted that this was the Jerusalem temple. This assumption betrays a sorry ignorance with respect to the dynamics and religio-politics of first century Palestine.
Zechariah had nothing whatsoever to do with the Jerusalem temple, which the Sadducean elite had turned into a “den of robbers” courtesy of Jesus. Zechariah was high priest yes, but he was high priest of the Qumran temple 40 km removed from the Jerusalem temple.
When John was born in September 8 BC, the incumbent high priest at the Jerusalem temple was Simon Boethus. When James, the brother of Jesus, was born in 1 AD, the high priest was Joazar. Joazar was succeeded in 6 AD by Annas. It was the Jerusalem priesthood who were the official high priests of Israel. The bona fide high priests, however, were the ones who presided at the Qumran temple because these were the dynastic priests.
The Qumran temple, a sanctuary really as it was more of a token temple than a real temple, was recognised by the contrived Jerusalem priesthood as well as the Herodian dynasty. The Jerusalem priesthood were aware that in the future, self-governing Kingdom of Israel, it was the Qumran high priest who would take the reins at the Jerusalem temple.
As for the Herodians, the Qumran priesthood was little beyond a talismanic convenience. Being a dynastic one and therefore the real deal, the Qumran priesthood lent the Herodians a veneer of legitimacy since as a “manufactured” monarch, the Herods were irredeemably unpopular in the eyes of the Jewish nation.
Once in a while, however, the Qumran priesthood did fall victim to the wrath of either the Herodian dynasty or the Jerusalem priesthood itself as happened, for instance, in the case of Jesus, his brother James, Zechariah himself, and his son John the Baptist.
ZECHARIAH NO AGED MAN In the superficial, Christian understanding of the Bible, the conception of John the Baptist was a miracle in that both Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were reportedly in geriatric territory – too old to be productive, more so for Lady Liz who had long gone past menopause.
That is as familiarly fallacious as your typical clergy’s interpretation of scripture. Zechariah and Elizabeth both were spring chickens according to the pesher of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The term “advanced in their days” does not mean the couple were old: in pesher language, all it says is that they had stayed rather long in mutual sexual abstinence: they had not conjugated since their marriage.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were a dynastic couple. As such, they were, per Essene dynastic procreational rules, to live apart till it was opportune for them to produce a heir. They should have done this earliest when Zechariah was 36 years of age but the fact of the matter was that they didn’t. On her part, Elizabeth is characterised in the gospels as “barren”.
Again, that by no means suggests she was unable to bear children: in the pesher language, it simply means she was a virgin who had not had a kid before. Indeed, in the apocryphal BOOK OF WISDOM 3:13, female celibates are referred to as “barren” and male celibates are referred to as “eunuchs”.
In addition, both are also referred to as “Blessed Ones”. In LUKE 23:29, we happen upon this statement: “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.'”
Ordinarily, one would think that “barren” and “wombs that never bore” denote the same thing and therefore there is no need to differentiate between them in the manner they have been in the Luke passage. In pesher, the underlying code language in which the gospels were written, the two phrases are different as a barren woman is not infertile but simply a virgin who has scrupulously abided by the rule of not engaging in sexual relations till the right time comes for siring a dynastic heir. Clearly therefore, Elizabeth had stayed chaste and therefore childless for an unusually long period of time and for reasons not of her choosing though.
FEAR OF A JOHN’S FATE Why did Zechariah neglect to have a child at a time prescribed by the Essenes? A persuasive argument can be made that it was on account of the pressures of priestly duty: he was so devoted to his job that dynastic procreational obligations became secondary if not altogether immaterial. The real reason, however, was that he was indifferent principally because he was loath to pandering to the arbitrary and manipulative Anunnaki agenda, the Anunnaki being the Old Testament gods who were in fact Aliens from a planet called Nibiru, seen only once in 3600 years by Earthlings. What was this agenda?
Well, the Anunnaki blueprint for “Saviour Sun Gods”, as Jesus was, fields a cast of three protagonists. First, there is a forerunner, one who announces the imminence of the Saviour Sun God and initiates him when he finally emerges to effect his preordained remit. The second is the Saviour Sun God himself. Finally, there is the chronicler – the person who documents the philosophy and teachings of the Saviour Sun God for posterity.
This three-man archetype harped back to Ancient Egypt, where the famed Horus was the Saviour Sun God, Anup (or Anubis) was the herald of Horus, and Aan was the recorder of the ethos and exploits of Horus. The names Anup and Aan are primeval forms of the names John, Jan, Juan, Johannes (Yohanan in Hebrew), Sean, etc.
Put differently, An-up and Aan are the two Aans – the Two Johns! The epic of the Saviour Sun God ran concurrent with the Two Johns. As wise King Solomon so insightfully put it, “There is nothing new under the Sun: what has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done” (ECCLESIASTES 1:9).
Now, Zechariah was aware he was the one who was to sire the man who was to announce and present the Saviour Sun God Jesus. At the same time, as Essene high priest, he was well-versed in Egyptian Anunnaki mythos and was under no illusion as to what happened to the John who introduced the Saviour Sun God: he always met a gruesome death. Indeed, the John who introduced Horus was beheaded.
Since history was cyclical and therefore kept repeating itself as per the Anunnaki’s age-old scheme for the Earthly realm, Zechariah feared the same thing might happen to his son, or some such unnatural death. It actually came to pass as according to the gospels John was beheaded at the orders of Herod Antipas.
It was in apprehension of the fate that was certain to befall his heir that Zechariah shrank from producing a child. In point of fact, Zechariah would rather he died childless so that the Aaronic succession would become extinct so disgusted was he with the diabolical, self-serving Anunnaki agenda. Unfortunately, the Anunnaki always win in the end. Although they execute their agenda for this ill-fated planet subtly and under the radar, they are very much in control and therefore inviolable. Noting that Zechariah could torpedo their well-laid-down plans, they moved to force his hand.
HOW JOHN WAS BORN Early in December 9 BC, Simeon, the Essence’s Abiathar priest who was second in rank to Zechariah and who also went by the titles “Angel Gabriel” and “Angel of the Lord” approached Zechariah with a view to persuade him to set about siring a heir. The Essenes were pundits both of astronomy and astrology and they knew that the Age of Pisces was just around the corner and it was time for a new generation of Davidic and Aaronic messiahs to arise. It was these two messiahs who were to usher in the final 1000-year stretch leading to a theocracy – a globalwide, Earthly government ruled by God himself.
Although Zechariah, who also went by the names “Archangel Michael” and “Lord God” was not inclined to consent, he was under obligation to. Otherwise, he would have forfeited the high priesthood. Furthermore, more serious repercussions would have ensued: as God’s foremost representative to the Essene fraternity, he was duty-bound, so he was told, to produce a dynastic successor who would step into his issues when he was no more. Zechariah therefore just had to comply.
Up until now, Zechariah had been celibate. Now he was going to institute sexual relations with his wife Elizabeth. In other words, he was going to live like a married man proper. The Essenes regarded sex as spiritually contaminating. That’s why for the priesthood, it was allowed for the sake only of procreation. Because sex was defiling, in Essene jargon all married men were called “sinners”.
Since Zechariah had now become a sinner with effect from December 9 BC, he would no longer perform priestly duties nor preach, minister, or issue instructions of any kind: that role now vested in Simeon, who would act in his stead.
In Luke’s gospel, this situation is allegorised in such a way as to suggest Zechariah was “struck dumb” for not believing the words of the Angel Gabriel. Zechariah’s suspension, however, would only be in force for the duration of his wife’s pregnancy: once she had delivered, he would part with her and return to Qumran to resume his priestly duties.
Elizabeth fell pregnant at the end of January 8 BC. Since she was used to a celibate life, the pregnancy somewhat embarrassed her. Hence for the next five months, she cocooned herself at Ain Feshka as she was shy to show off her pregnancy.
Unlike Jesus, John was conceived in perfect conformity with dynastic procreational rules. Hence he was born in the right month, in September 8 BC, the holiest month of the year. If Zechariah had wanted another child, he would have done so only in 1 BC given that as a member of the Levitical succession he had to wait for seven years after the birth of a son or three had John been a daughter. As it was, Zechariah was not interested in producing kids at the pleasure of the Anunnaki. John was to be his only child.
The name John was atypical: none of Zechariah’s ancestors had carried that name. Clearly, it was not Zechariah’s choice: it was mooted by the Anunnaki. Why did the Anunnaki opt for such a name? Because it fitted very well with their agenda for John in the grand scheme of things. John was going to reprise the same role of the John who introduced and baptised the Egyptian Saviour Sun God Horus thousands of years back. He was ultimately going to die the same or similar death as that of the John of Horus’ day. Names are portendous folks: do not simply casually confer names on your children as they spell a particular fate!
When Zechariah was murdered by Zealot commander Judas of Galilee in 6 AD, John the Baptist, aged only 13 years, succeeded him as the Melchizedek, or Michael-Zadok, his other title as the Essene priest-king. However, a “regent” was retained to act on his behalf till he was 30 years old, the age when one was eligible for high priesthood. This caretaker high priest was Annas, who in AD 6 had replaced Joazar as high priest of the Jerusalem temple.
In the very same year, when the now 12-year-old Jesus, the messiah of David, celebrated his Bar-Mitzvah ceremony, young John was present in his capacity as the messiah of Aaron. Thus Jesus and John, contrary to popular brief, were familiar to each other since childhood. After all, they were cousins, Elizabeth being a maternal aunt of Mary the mother of Jesus.
They also spent a lot of time together at Qumran. Unlike Jesus though, John never travelled the world. He was not a political messiah but a priestly messiah who would always be based in Jerusalem. Hence, he saw no need to venture out on a familiarisation tour of world cultures. Sadly, this insularity made him fiercely anti-Gentile and was to engender a serious rift between Jesus and himself.
At an economically tumultuous juncture of our country’s history as we presently are, where unemployment has become something of a Gordian Knot conundrum, a promisingly ameliorational pursuit known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is well worth exploring as a salvavic option.
One pundit defines BPO as “a subset of outsourcing that involves contracting the operations and responsibilities for a particular business process to a third-party service provider.” Examples of BPO services, which invariably do not constitute a company’s core or primary mission, include inbound and outbound call centres, live chat, bookkeeping, web development, research marketing, accounting and finance, and after-hours call answering services. BPO is driven, fundamentally, by the imperative of cost-cutting and overrides national boundaries through the employment and deployment of technologies that make human and data communications easier, thus lending credence to the concept of the global village that is today’s world.
BPO had been in existence in its primordial form since as early as the 19th century but it was not until the 1980s that its latter-day incarnation loomed larger and the term outsourcing became part of daily business parlance. Today, every continent is into BPO, including the economic Dark Horse called Africa. The Global IT-BPO Outsourcing Deals Analysis segments BPO buyer regions into three categories. These are North and South America (42 percent); Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (35 percent); and Asia and Oceania 23 percent.
In a Third World country such as Botswana, overseas-oriented BPO is key to bringing in those paramount hard currencies besides engendering a radical turnaround in the all too dingy joblessness picture. But are we up to it folks? Have we gotten aboard the bandwagon or we are virtual spectators watching nonchalantly as the BPO locomotive streaks away at breakneck speed?
JAX’S FLASH-IN-THE-PAN SUCCESS
The extent to which BPO has taken root in Botswana is not apparent. The first time I heard of it was in August 2007, when the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA), then going by the name Botswana Training Authority (BOTA), put it on record at a one-day IFSC-organised conference that they were in the process of developing standards for the nascent BPO industry in Botswana whilst they benchmarked with Mauritius, the UK, and South Africa. Little, if anything at all, has been heard of their progress since.
In February 2018, The Botswana Guardian reported of the newly-established Direct BPO, a fully-owned subsidiary of Mascom, which was looking to employing 400 people at the very outset. Once again, details as to how Direct BPO, whose establishment coincided with Mascom’s 20-year anniversary, has fared to date remain sketchy.
Perhaps the most spectacular case of a BPO operation in Botswana was that of Oseg, a company begun by Majakathata Pheko, affectionately known as Jax, in 2003 under the Debtsolve franchise umbrella. Oseg, which comprised of three divisions, offered customer management and financial services solutions and operated out of Gaborone and Windhoek in Namibia, where it touted MTN as its principal client. Oseg did receivable management for local financial blue chips such as Barclays Bank, FNB, Bayport, MVA, Botswana Insurance Company, Letshego, and Standard Chartered, and in due course CEDA and Mascom. It also served the Australian offshore market. Its account receivable division was the biggest in Botswana, handling over 60,000 accounts and managing a portfolio of over P400 million.
At its height, Oseg employed 150 people and had spent over P15 million on cutting edge technology and manpower training. In 2007, Oseg was nominated for Best Non-European Contact Centre at the CCF Awards held that year in Birmingham, UK, the “Oscars of the industry”.
Then in 2016, the sky seemed to have fallen. Oseg found itself saddled with an odious P4.4 million debt, with its staff resultantly trimmed to just under 50. According to media reports, Jax pointed to his own bankrollers and their partners in the alleged crime as his rather devious saboteurs. “I have evidence that powerful people in the bank and a cabal of friends both inside and outside the bank were intentionally and aggressively looking for ways to weaken Oseg, tarnish its name and diminish its value as they were in the same competing business interests, in the call centre and the factoring business,” the then youthful entrepreneur, who was only 41 at the time, bemoaned.
Jax reported the matter to NBFIRA and what came of that, not to mention the continued viability of his business, I have not been able to establish. I just hope and trust that Jax personally weathered the tempest as I have it on good authority that he is doing fairly well.
BOTSWANA MISSING OUT ON DOLLAR-DENOMINATED BILLIONS
For emerging economies, and even peripheral Third World countries, the BPO business can be something of a gold mine. According to the latest McKinsey report, the global BPO industry is valued at $163 billon and is expected to grow at $183 billion by the year 2023.
In the Philippines, BPO, which began with a call centre setup way back in 1992, accounts for 11 percent of GDP, the single biggest contributor to the nation’s economic activity. It employs 1.3 million people in over 700 outsourcing companies. One company, called Teleperformance, alone employs 47,000 people in 21 sites. In 2019, the BPO sector generated revenues of the order of $26.3 billion.
In India, the BPO sector, now 30 years old, provides direct employment to 2 million people and indirect employment to 8 million. In 2019, the BPO income overall amounted to $8.6 billon. In Mauritius, the ICT/BPO sector contributed 6 percent to GDP in 2019, representing a key driver of the Mauritian economy. The BPO sector is responsible for 53 percent of the 27,000 people employed in the ICT/BPO superstructure in 850 companies.
According to the Economic Development Board of Mauritius, leading multinationals such as Accenture, Huawei, Aspen Pharmacare and Allianz have back office operations in Mauritius. In addition, a number of international payroll companies currently use Mauritius as a service delivery centre.
Kenya is also looking to position itself as a hub for global digital BPO, notably through government promotion schemes such as Ajira. According to the ITC Authority of Kenya, the market size for online work was estimated to be $4.8 billion in 2016 and was projected to generate $15 billon by 2020. With only 7000 people employed in the BPO industry in the country, we are talking about a modest figure though it is still brisk compared to the rather lugubrious situation in Botswana. Clearly, there are billions in US dollar terms to be had in BPO and we are missing out on these big time.
MZANZI LEAVES BW IN THE DUST
Yet it is Big Brother next door from whom we have precious much to glean as he is our immediate competitor potentially in the BPO race. Remember, if our IFSC continues to flounder to date, it is largely on account of the fact that in Mzansi, we have a formidable rival right on our doorstep.
As we speak, the South African BPO sector is valued at $461 million going by the invariably authoritative McKinsey survey. It employs 270,000 people in six cities, a figure projected to more than double to 775,000 by 2030. Of the current total staff base, 65,000 serve international clients. That South Africa has made such enormous strides in the BPO arena is meritoriously earned and not simply fortuitous. It has been voted the second most attractive BPO location in the world for three years on the trot.
The South African BPO sector is tipped to grow by 3 percent per annum over the next three years, a rate which is in line with the trends in the global BPO space. There are currently over 100 local and international BPO providers operating in South Africa, with local players in the main serving large multinational customers. The industry’s key offshore business clientele is domiciled in English-speaking countries, notably the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, with 61 percent coming from the United Kingdom, 18 percent from the United States and Canada, and 11 percent from Australia.
In June this year, the $1.5 trillion-strong Amazon announced that it would be signing up a total of 3000 South Africans to help cater to its customers in North America and Europe, which is testament to the fact that the country’s BPO market continues to make waves in the Western world. If Jeff Bizos is impressed, you can count on the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg to follow suit too sooner rather than later.
A FORGONE OPPORTUNITY TO TURBO-CHARGE THE BPO INDUSTRY IN BOTSWANA
Empowerment Africa is an organisation that boasts a business network that enables established and emerging businesses to connect, partner, and create long-term value with Africa-based projects. With reportedly 3000 esteemed contacts, it liaises with governments, major corporations, and investors to facilitate business opportunities, deliver deal flow, and provide research across its network to the Empower Africa business community.
Empowerment Africa recommends seven countries in Africa with thriving outsourcing industries. They are Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, and Madagascar in that order. Botswana is conspicuous by its absence and that must be ample cause for concern to our Monetary Authorities, especially given that at least on paper, we are economically better off than three to four of these countries.
In 2015, Jax approached the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture and propositioned a joint partnership with Oseg in unlocking BPO potential in Botswana by looking at the public sector Debt Collection and Call Centre services for government. Jax reckoned that the total market for Receivables and Revenue collections sitting in Government and Parastatal organisations at the time amounted to over P3.5 billion, equivalent to 8% of the National Budget then. If the BPO sector was to be utilised to assist in collecting this debt, over 2700 jobs would be created.
Furthermore, considering that a typical government employee spent half the time attending to inquiries from members of the public, the exercise would result in improved efficiency delivery in government departments in addition to boosting government’s liquidity position.
This is what Jax said in a 50th independence anniversary publication in 2016 on the same subject. “Our estimations are that once all the collections work is outsourced, there is a potential to collect more than P100 million every month for the Government of Botswana.
The opportunity to create more than 2700 exists, which will help to mop out unemployed graduates and upskill them. The economic impact of 2700 jobs would support more than 15,000 people in the economy and also help to create jobs in other industries that support the BPO sector, and will stimulate the whole ICT sector. Over and above that, the outsourcing would stimulate the whole IT sector and help improve Botswana’s position as an ICT and Call Centre hub.”
Once again, I am not privy to what came of this proposition, but I am persuaded that had government acceded to it, the BPO business in the country would have quantum-leaped and we would today be waltzing on the proverbial Cloud 9 in terms of revenues generated. Even the road retarder Oseg encountered with its bankers would not have been a factor at all. As significant, we would in all probability have made it on Empowerment Africa’s short list for the continent’s pre-eminent BPO addresses.
THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF GOVERNMENT IN BOOSTING BPO FORTUNES
Granted, with the advent of the still latent E-Governance, the synergic potential with the Call Centre business is stupendous. As per Jax’s pitch to those who care to hear, “The outsourcing of the E-Governance and collections will greatly improve efficiency in service delivery in the government departments. Directing traffic and enquiries to a Call Centre would empower the BPO sector in such a way that would be able to help the public from all over the country from one central point 24 hours and 7 days week.
The Call Centres would also relieve Government of the pressure to develop brick and mortar representations/offices across the country. This would help to save billions of Pula as the public will be able to access the services from the comfort of their homes and villages. The Call Centre service would bridge the urban and rural division as everyone will now be able to access Government services and receive the same service.”
The real jackpot both to government and the broader citizenry, however, resides in the offshore market. With sales cycles in the BPO business taking up to 12 months, contracts typically run from five to seven years, which is sustained lucrativeness by any measure. It is in the direction of the overseas market that much of our energy should be focused, though wary that we do not recklessly neglect the domestic market, if we are to reinvigorate the BPO industry and get meaningful returns out of it.
Developed countries are all the more keen to outsource as one way to insulate their economies against severe hurt inflicted by globalwide economic tremors. For instance, it was thanks to offshore outsourcing that Australia so ably navigated the 2008 economic crisis. That year, IBM released a BPO report showing that 80% of Australian companies were willing to outsource from offshore companies to save 50% in expenses.
Here in Botswana, I would recommend that government be in the BPO vanguard by splashing on a whole host of catalytic factors. In South Africa, for instance, the Department of Industry, Trade and Competition devoted R1.3 billion between 2007 and 2018 to bolstering the BPO industry in one way or the other and committed a further R1.2 billion in 2019 alone, gestures which no doubt underlie the solid performance of the industry.
Even when the lockdowns were in progress, the industry was accorded essential services status so that it kept the momentum going. As if not to be outdone, the South African BPO industry body, Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA), has commendably done its part in aiding the growth of the industry by supporting skills development, sharing best practice, and providing its members with access to other business networks and associations that drive and influence the sector’s transition into the digital economy. In Mauritius, the Prime Minister himself, and not a man of lesser stature, directly oversees the BPO sector.
For Botswana to make a mark in the BPO arena, it has to build a reputation as a reliable, cost-effective, and high-quality destination for outsourced business services, attributes all of which South Africa excels in. In addition, South African BPO players provide higher-quality services owing to strength across five key areas: availability of skills, infrastructure, risk profile, business environment, and industry size. In Botswana, we will need to nurture some of these strengths with the instrumentality of government.
With the advent of COVID-19, it is of essence that traditional BPO providers build capabilities to enable rapid deployment and ramp-up of fully functional teams under crisis scenarios. Operational resilience, that is, the ability to pivot when an ordinarily disruptive set of circumstances hits, is key. South Africa demonstrated this capacity most eloquently when 90 percent of the workforce was able to switch to remote work in residential settings, when 50 percent of operations in key competing locations such as the Philippines and India came to a virtual standstill.
Lastly but by no means the least, a competitive currency is a reasonably efficacious undercutting strategy. In recent months, the South African Rand has significantly weakened against the US dollar, in which the cost of outsourcing is typically denominated, and this has enabled South African BPOs to compete more effectively with Asian offerings.
It concerns me that last year, the Pula appreciated by 1.6 percent against the SDR (Special Drawing Right), which is a compound of five currencies, namely the US dollar, the British Pound, the Euro, the Japanese Yen, and the Chinese Yuan. If that relatively ripped Pula trajectory persists, it will not help our BPO competitiveness at all Rre Moses Pelaelo.
Mighty Persian King ends Babylonian exile after 60 years
For all his euphoria and grandiose preparations for Nibiru King Anu’s prospective visit to Earth, General Atiku, Nebuchadnezzar didn’t live to savour this potentially highly momentous occasion. In fact, none of his next three bloodline successors were destined to witness up-close the return of the Planet of the Gods, as Nibiru was referred to in Sumerian and Egyptian chronicles.
Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC, having ruled for 43 years, missing Nibiru, which showed up circa 550 BC as we set down in The Earth Chronicles series, by a whisker. During the next 6 years, he had three successors in such an unconscionably short period of time. His immediate one was Merodach, his eldest son.
In Botswana, the Trade Disputes Act, 2016 (“the Act”) provides the framework within which trade disputes are resolved. This framework hinges on four legs, namely mediation, arbitration, industrial action and litigation. In this four-part series, we discuss this framework.
In last week’s article, we discussed the third leg of Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework-industrial action. In this article, we discuss the fourth leg, namely litigation at the Industrial Court. The Act does not define the term litigation. Litigation is generally understood to mean a situation where parties to a trade dispute take their dispute to a court, in this case the Industrial Court, for determination by a judge.
Just like an arbitrator, a judge’s decision is binding on the parties though they can, of course, appeal it. However, while an arbitrator must be acceptable to both parties, a judge does not have to be acceptable to the parties. A party can, however, apply for the judges’ recusal from the case for such reasons as reasonable apprehension of bias.
Before discussing litigation at the Industrial Court, it is apposite that a brief background of the origins and evolution of the Industrial Court be given. The original Trade Disputes Act (No. 19/1982) provided for disputes to be adjudicated, inter alia, by a Permanent Arbitrator. This is confirmed in Veronica Moroka & 2 Others v The Attorney General and Another, Court of Appeal Civil Appeal No. CACGB-121-17 at para 11.
The Industrial Court replaced the institution of the Permanent Arbitrator (Dingake Collective Labour Law in Botswana 23) following the enactment of the Trade Disputes Act (No. 23/1997) which, as confirmed in the Veronica Moroka case supra, came into force on 9 October 1997.
As per Kirby JP, in the Veronica Moroka case supra, the Industrial Court’s status “as a court was uncertain and no provision was made for it to be served by a Registrar, with the usual powers and duties of such office”.
The Court of Appeal, in Botswana Railways Organization v Setsogo and Others, 1996 BLR 763 CA, remedied this defect. It held that the Industrial Court was not a mere statutory tribunal, but was, in line with Section 127(1) of the Constitution of Botswana, a subordinate court, having limited jurisdiction.
Following the change of the definition of subordinate court by Act 2/2002 to exclude the Industrial Court, along with the Court of Appeal, the High Court and a court martial, the Industrial Court became a superior court, albeit still with limited jurisdiction unlike the High Court, for instance, which has inherent unlimited jurisdiction.
Consequently, appeals from the Industrial Court were referred to the Court of Appeal. Perhaps most significantly, according to Veronica Moroka, Industrial Court judges were now, just like High Court judges, protected by, inter alia, security of tenure.
The Trade Disputes Act was further amended and replaced by the Trade Disputes Act, 2003 which commenced on 6 April 2004 as Act No. 15 of 2004. Section 16(8) of this Act provided for the appointment of the Registrar and an Assistant Registrar, but still had no section clothing them with specific powers.
It, through section 20(3), also bestowed, in the Court, the power to hear urgent applications and, in terms of section 18(1), the power to grant interdicts, thereby remedying the defects identified in Botswana Railways Organization v Setsogo & Others supra, but it still had no provision dealing with writs of execution and sales flowing therefrom.
In terms of section 18(1) of the Act, the Industrial Court’s jurisdiction includes the power to hear and determine all trade disputes except disputes of interest as well as, in terms of section 20(1) (b) of the Act, the power to interdict any unlawful industrial action and to grant general interdicts, declaratory orders or interim orders.
In terms of section 20(1) (c) of the Act, the Industrial Court is also clothed with the power to hear appeals and reviews of the decisions of mediators and arbitrators respectively. It, in terms of section 20(1) (d) of the Act, has the power to direct the Commissioner to assign a mediator to mediate a dispute if it is of the opinion that the matter has not been properly mediated or requires further mediation.
In terms of section 20(1) (e) of the Act, the Industrial Court also has the power to direct the Commissioner to refer a dispute that is before the Court for arbitration. In terms of section 20(1) (f) of the Act, it has the power to refer any matter to an expert and, at the Court’s discretion, to accept the expert’s report as evidence in the proceedings.
The Industrial Court also has the power to give such directions to parties to a trade dispute provided the object of such directions is the expedient and just hearing and determination or disposal of any dispute before it.
In terms of section 20(2) of the Act, any matter of law and any question as to whether a matter for determination is a matter of law or a matter of fact is decided by the presiding judge. In terms of section 20(3) of the Act, with respect to all issues other than those referred to under section 20 (2), the decision of the majority of the Court prevails.
Where there is no majority decision under section 20 (3), the decision of the judge prevails. In terms of section 24(2) of the Act, any interested party in any proceedings under the Act may appear by legal representation or may be represented by any other person so authorised by that party.
In terms of section 28(2) of the Act, a decision of the Industrial Court has the same force and effect as a decision of the High Court, and because, unlike South Africa, Botswana has no Labour Appeal Court, decisions of the Industrial Court, just like those of the High Court, are, in terms of section 20(5) of the Act, appealable to the highest court in the land, that is, the Court of Appeal.
The Trade Disputes Act went through another amendment in 2016. Section 14 of the Act ensures the continuation of the Industrial Court. It outlines its functions as the settlement of trade disputes as well as the securing and maintenance of good industrial relations in Botswana.
In terms of section 15(1) of the Act, the judges of the Industrial Court are appointed by the state President from among persons possessing the qualifications to be judges of the High Court as prescribed under section 96 of the Constitution.
In terms of section 15(2) of the Act, these judges are headed by the President of the Industrial Court designated by the state President from among the judges.
In terms of section 15(4) of the Act, a judge of the Industrial Court who is not a citizen of Botswana or who is not appointed on permanent and pensionable terms may be appointed on contract basis and is eligible for reappointment.
In terms of section 15(5) of the Act, Judges of the Industrial Court sit with two nominated members, one of whom is selected by the judge from among persons nominated by the organisation representing employees or trade unions in Botswana and the other selected by the judge from among persons nominated by the organisation representing employers in Botswana.
In terms of section 15(6) of the Act, where, for any reason, the nominated members are or either of them is absent for any part of the hearing of a trade dispute, the jurisdiction of the court may be exercised by the judge alone or with the remaining member of the Court, whichever the case may be, unless the judge, for good reason, decides that the hearing should be postponed.
In terms of section 18(1) of the Act, An Industrial Court judge vacates office on attaining the age of 70 years, provided that the state President may permit him or her to continue in office for such period as may be necessary to enable him or her to deliver judgment or to do any other thing in relation to proceedings that had commenced before him or her.
In terms of section 18(2) of the Act, in accordance with the provisions of the proviso to section 96(6) of the Constitution, a person appointed to act as an Industrial Court judge vacates that office on attaining the age of 75 years.
In terms of section 19(1) (a) and (b) of the Act, an Industrial Court judge may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind, or from any other cause or for serious misconduct.
In terms of section 19(2) of the Act, the power to remove an Industrial Court judge from office vests in the state President acting in accordance with the procedure provided under section 97 of the Constitution for the removal of High Court judges.
*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or firstname.lastname@example.org