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Youth, arise and save BNYC!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Although the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) has been tainted with allegations of poor corporate governance, corruption, economic crime and maladministration, the youth should rise and organize to repel any attempt by government or any person or entity to take advantage of the situation and unlawfully weaken or disband the BNYC.

If suggestions that recently surfaced to the effect that government has, following preliminary reports of internal audits by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) and the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture (MYSC), taken steps which include freezing funds, impounding vehicles and debarring the BNYC National Executive Committee from signing for all financial transaction is correct, government has almost taken over the BNYC.

While the allegations against BNYC are serious and those at fault should, after due process, be punished if proven guilty, such harsh and unprocedural action by government is unwarranted. One wonders why the DISS conducted the internal audit. Shouldn’t MYSC’s audit have been sufficient? Shouldn’t government rather have used Auditor General (AG) or a private audit firm if it sought an alternative report? Has the DISS been used to audit other parastatals and statutory bodies which have been accused of equally if not more palpably abominable acts of corruption, economic crime and maladministration?

Assuming there is corruption, economic crime and maladministration at BNYC, why, if the story in Sunday Standard’s edition of 24th January 2015 is correct, were the vehicles which are alleged to have been procured illegally through a loan not approved by government impounded only to be packed at Botswana Defence Force (BDF)’s Glen Valley Barracks? If impounding the vehicles was indeed a necessity why were the vehicles not packed at Central Transport Organization (CTO)’s warehouses or other government departments?   

If the internal audit had been conducted by MYSC, AG or a private audit firm, irregularities, if any, would have been identified and those liable should have, if the matter could not be addressed internally, been referred to the Botswana Police, Directorate on Corruption & Economic Crime (DCEC) or the Ombudsman. The transgressions alleged, i.e. corruption, economic crime and maladministration certainly fall within the statutory mandate of these organizations and not the DISS. None of the allegations, objectively seen, threatens our national security.

If government believes that BNYC is in a state of leadership or management crisis, which it (BNYC) is unable to resolve, it (government) should invoke Article 24.2 of the BNYC Statutes. In terms thereof, “…the Minister (of Youth, Sport & Culture) may appoint, for a period not exceeding twelve(12) months, any person who considers him or herself to be suitably qualified to act as Chairperson of the Council. At the expiry of the twelve (12) months, the acting Chairperson of the Council shall be required to call a special meeting of the General Assembly to appoint a new Chairperson in accordance with the appropriate statute(s)”.

Therefore, if indeed government believes that BNYC is in a state of leadership or management crisis, as it seems to be, government’s intervention should be in terms of Article 24.2 of the BNYC Statutes. Its intervention is only limited to appointment of the acting Chairperson through which it (government) can influence the outcome it seeks. Inarguably, therefore, government’s action, especially with respect to usurping the mandate of the National Executive Committee, is improper.   

The purport of Article 24.2 of the BNYC Statutes is that, in the interim, the acting Chairperson, in collaboration with MYSC, but guided by the Council and the youth’s best interests, would work with and within the BNYC structures to bring regularity to the Council. It is during this period that government, since it funds BNYC, can seek such things as the list of bank accounts, bank balances, financial statements and the list of assets and liabilities.

In any event, since BNYC submits quarterly reports to MYSC, MYSC already has such information. Also, MYSC would have already been aware of BNYC’s administrative and financial status since, in terms of Article 13.1.2(viii) of the BNYC Statutes, MYSC’s Permanent Secretary is an ex officio member of the National Executive Committee of the Council.

That BNYC was established through a Presidential Directive (CAB. 9/74) does not mean that government can, though BNYC and/or some of its officials are prima facie at fault, deal with it in a manner that not only violates the law, but also undermines its legal status. In fact, contrary to the myth that BNYC was established through a Presidential Directive, it was not.

The Presidential directive did not establish BNYC, but rather approved BNYC’s formation, hence the directive says “(a) that action taken to form Botswana National Youth Council be approved”. This can only be interpreted to mean that BNYC’s existence predates the Presidential Directive.     

In any event, as per Tafa J. in Goitse Mpolokang & Tibapi Gucha v The Attorney General for the Republic of Botswana (Representing the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture), case number CVHGB-001021-13, BNYC, though it falls under MYSC for purposes of subventions and reporting, has a separate legal status which is that of a universitas and is capable of acting in its own name as well as suing and being sued in its own name.

While no one can dispute the fact that all is not well at BNYC, one is tempted to believe that this has accorded government or some within government the opportunity to finally close it down. Though the current BNYC is moribund in terms of bringing government to account on the socio-economic and political issues bedeviling our youth, it is common cause that there are some in government who are uncomfortable with the idea of a youth council. These are those who believe that BNYC serves the interests of the Opposition and would relish its demise.

Not only that. The corruption, economic crime and maladministration at BNYC probably involves some officials at MYSC who have committed such ills either by omission or commission. The harsh measures meted against BNYC may, therefore, be a means of using a hammer to instantly kill a fly so that the injuries the fly had cannot be identified.

It is inexplicable why so many irregularities can have been committed at BNYC under the watch of MYSC which, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, not only seats in BNYC’s National Executive Committee, but also receives the Council’s quarterly and annual reports as well as audited financial statements.

In view of the aforegoing, while the youth should condemn and punish those who brought the Council’s name into disrepute and misappropriated the Council’s resources through corruption, economic crime and maladministration, they should oppose any effort to take advantage of this to close the Council or turn it into a desk at MYSC as government has intimated.

BNYC, if properly functioning, is essential for youth development. Its demise can, therefore, only negate the gains we have made since its establishment and/or approval in 1974. The youth should also arise and save BNYC by reclaiming its governance and avoid a situation where the National Executive Committee and Management run it as they please.

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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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