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The 12 “Disciples”

Benson C Saili

They comprised of Jews, Gentiles, and Samaritans and were headed not by Simon Peter but by Simon the Zealot!

Although John had baptised Jesus, it was a grudging act. He did it because he had to: there were overriding, shadowy  powers who forced his hand. For by the time he was baptising Jesus, in AD 29, the two messiahs barely saw eye to eye. The messianic movement had splintered into two, with one faction led by John the Baptist, called the Hebrews, and the other by Jesus, called the Hellenists. The split occurred because as we explained in an earlier article, John was rather old-school, dogmatic, and unbending.   

As far as John was concerned, Gentiles, women, and married men could not participate in ministerial roles as they lacked the  sanctity to do so: only Levites were eligible. Jesus, on the other hand, wanted an all-inclusive faith that embraced all and sundry, that did not discriminate along lines of sex, race, or ethnicism. John seemed to toe the exclusivist Enlilite line, whereas Jesus sought to promote the inclusive Enkite line. John was a puritan; Jesus was a liberal.

Since in the eyes of John Jesus had become a radical, he was not fit to partner him as the Davidic messiah. As a result, John decided to promote James, Jesus’s immediate younger brother,  as the Davidic messiah. Initially, James was reluctant to supplant his elder brother in this role but it was not only John  who prevailed over him: the sitting high priest of the Jerusalem Temple, Caiaphas,  as well as Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great,  also weighed in on this persuasion pitch.

The stance taken by James caused a serious rift in the family of Jesus. After the death of Joseph in AD 23, Jesus as the firstborn had become the head of the family. Titular-wise, he had become the David. James had accordingly  become the Jacob, the title of a Crown Prince (since at that stage Jesus was childless and therefore had no heir). Now that James was estranged from his senior brother,  Jesus decided to designate his other brother, Joses (short for Joseph), as the Crown Prince. Joses came immediately after James in the nuclear family line-up.

It was all a typical Anunnaki ploy, where they always make sure they drive a wedge between bothers, a stratagem that harped back to the rivalry between Horus and Set, Esau and Jacob, Cain and Abel, and Enlil and Enki. Theirs is divide and rule, for they know that under harmonious human relationships,  they cannot attain to their goal of riding roughshod over  us.   

According to the gospels, Jesus had a total of 84 disciples. He first appointed 12, and subsequently 72 others (LUKE 10:1) he commissioned into crusading outreach. The word disciple, however, is correct only to a degree. The 12, the inner core, were more than disciples.

They were actually a future Cabinet of a liberated Israel as the world’s foremost geopolitical power. It was a shadow government, though in terms of legitimacy, it played second fiddle to that of John the Baptist, who was recognised as the official head of the Essene community as a whole (the Jesus faction was a kind of opposition party to the John faction).  Of the 12,  not all were Jews: some were Gentiles and others were Samaritans.

Simon Peter is obviously the most famous of the 12.  In the Bible, he is presented as the seniormost disciple and is invariably listed first.  The reason he enjoys such preeminence is fundamentally because he was the most instrumental in the founding of the church in Rome. It explains why Catholics hail him as the first Pope, though this is in a de facto sense rather than factually so as the first pope was actually Prince Linus of Britain (in office c. 67 to c. 76 AD and mentioned in 2 TIMOTHY 4:21)). 

The gospels were over time subjected to selective editing and embroidery and in the process Simon Peter was retrospectively exalted to a status he did not deserve. Luke also had a great deal to do with this accentuation of Peter in that in the book of Acts, he deliberately promoted him at the expense of James, the brother of Jesus, who was a rival to Paul, Luke’s principal. At the time Jesus was ministering though, Peter was nowhere near the top brass in the apostolic band. The seniormost among the 12 was Simon Magus, listed on the apostolic roll as Simon Zealotes (i.e. the  Zealot)  or Simon the Canaanite.

In the gospels, the older of seniority of the disciples is listed in reverse order: the top dogs appear last, whilst the minnows, to which Simon Peter belonged, appear first. One explanation for this has been outlined above – to deliberately put Simon Peter on a pedestal for the pioneer role he played in the establishment of the Roman church. 

Another, equally important reason was to blindfold  the Roman authorities. The likes of Simon Peter, Andrew, John (the Son of Zebedee)  and James  (another Son of Zebedee) were simple people who were practically anonymous: they were ordinary village Essenes who held no visible sectoral office. On the other hand, the likes of Simon Zealotes and Judas Iscariot were the embodiment of the freedom struggle: they were at the head – clandestinely so – of the Zealot movement.

It was therefore strategic that their profile be toned down so the Roman vigilantes focused on the more innocuous people. Thus by rearranging the names of the 12 as they did, the Gospel writers diverted Roman attention from those apostles in the very forefront of public life.  It was all politics at play here and not religion.

In truth, therefore, the leading and most influential members of the counsel of 12 were Simon Zealotes; Nathaniel; Judas Iscariot; Thaddeus; Matthew; and Thomas in that order. Rather than being literal disciples of Jesus, these six were his associates. It is they we will discuss first.

Had the  gospel writers been non-partisan and objective chroniclers, Simon Zealotes would have enjoyed a prominence only second to Jesus. In extra-biblical literature,  more is written about him than even Jesus. To begin with, he was the closest associate of Jesus, his most ardent supporter. 

He was “the disciple Jesus loved” that we frequently encounter in the gospel of John. The Lazarus who was “raised from the dead” was actually Simon Zealotes. It was because of his affinity for Simon Zealotes that Jesus was condemned to death as we shall demonstrate when we dwell on the crucifixion.

Simon Zealotes was not a Jew but a Samaritan, the head of the Magians of  West Mannaseh, the group that was the first to recognise Jesus as the Davidic messiah at his birth. As the leading astrologer and medicineman of his day, Simon  was  vilified by his enemies as a “magician”,  the reason he was commonly known as Simon Magus. In later days, he became an arch-rival of both Simon Peter and the apostle Paul and for that his character was unduly blackened. He was labelled as the “Anti-Christ”, or “Anti-Pope”.

Yet it was he who even more than Paul consistently and steadfastly championed the co-option of Gentiles into Judaism. Although he was an extremist  who advocated war against the Romans as the only way of driving them away, his belligerent instincts were for the most part checked by the pacifist that was Jesus.  In the gospels,  Simon Zealotes is sometimes referred to as Simon the Canaanite, the latter of which is  a mistranslation of the Hebrew word qana, which means “one who is zealous”, that is, a Zealot. He also went by the name Zebedee, meaning “My Gift”.

In the 12-man apostolate, there were two sub-factions as we noted at one stage. There was a faction that was for war against Rome and the faction that was for peaceful engagement with Rome. Simon Zealotes headed the war faction also called the “Lightning Party”,  whereas Nathaniel headed the peace faction, also called the “Thunder Party”. 

Thus Simon Zealotes  and Nathaniel were mini-adversaries in the apostolic band. Nathaniel’s  real name was Jonathan Annas. He was the second-born son of Annas, who had been high priest of the Jerusalem temple from 6 to 15 AD and who according to the gospels part-presided over the trial of Jesus. Before the messianic movement split, Nathaniel had been third after John the Baptist (the Father/Pope   or the Abraham) and Jesus (the Son or the Isaac). Nathaniel was the Spirit or the Jacob/James. 

Thus in the gospel , he is at times listed as James son of Alpheus. “Son of Alpheus” was a title meaning “he of the succession”, or simply “deputy”. This referred to his being next in line to the position of Pope (Jesus was not eligible for the position of Pope as he was a kingly heir).      

Judas Iscariot is arguably the most despicable villain of history. Dante, the iconic Italian poet and caricaturist, not only designates him as the first sinner but places him right at the centre of Hell, ingested head-first by a horned and winged Devil. Until the crucifixion, however, Judas was a man of high-standing and high-esteem. First, he was the undercover commander of the Zealots, having succeeded Judas of Galilee who was killed in the abortive uprising against direct Roman rule of Judea in AD 6. As a mathematically erudite man, he was entrusted Essene treasury.

This was a very senior position, considering that at the Jerusalem temple, the temple treasurer was only second in seniority to the high priest. Certainly, had the Romans been ejected from power in the time of Jesus and a Jewish government established in its place, Judas would have become the nation’s Chancellor of the Exchequer although he aimed higher than that as we shall soon demonstrate.

After the death of John the Baptist but before the  crucifixion, Judas occupied the position of the second-highest ranking member of the 12 after Simon Zealotes, hence his other title as “Son of Simon” as per the gospel of John, “son of” simply meaning “deputy”. Furthermore, Judas was the Chief Scribe, or lead script writer, which suggests he was a skilled writer.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were produced under his direct oversight alongside Judas of Galilee. His surname Iscariot could mean two things. In one sense, it could have been “Sikariotes”, Greek for “dagger man”, that is, a Zealot trained in assassinations. In another vein, it could have been a posthumous nickname derived from the Hebrew word “Sikkarti”, which meant “to deliver up”, in this case “delivery“ suggesting the  betrayal of Jesus to the Jewish establishment.     

Theudas, alternatively rendered Thaddeus, is the disciple who also appears on the gospel lists under the name Judas (not Iscariot), a variant of the same name. His other name was Lebbaeus. But Christians are not aware that Theudas was actually the Barabbas who featured in the trial of Jesus. He was the oldest of the 12, having been a contemporary of Jesus’s father Joseph. Not only was he a Zealot but he had been head of the Theraputae since 9 BC. Although he was in the Jesus faction, he was closer to James,  Jesus’s brother (who was in the John faction), than he was to Jesus. His tile of Barabbas, meaning “Son of the Father” (that is, “Deputy of the Father”), derived from the fact that he later became Nathaniel’s deputy when Nathaniel became Pope following the demotion of Simon Zealotes. His characterisation as “Judas of James” on the list of disciples attests to this. Remember, Nathaniel’s other title   was “The Jacob”, Jacob being the same name as James.

Matthew was the immediate younger brother of Nathaniel and was the most humane and pro-Christian of the Annas dynasty. It was Matthew who sponsored the gospel of Matthew whilst he was high priest of the Jerusalem temple from AD 42-43. At some stage, Nathaniel became the chief priest (not the same as high priest) in the Essene hierarchy. The holder of this position went by the nominal title “Levi”. After the death of  Nathaniel in AD 57, Matthew succeeded him as the Levi, which explains why Luke and Mark refer to him as Levi rather than Matthew. Earlier in the 20s and 30s AD, Matthew was a publican, that is, a tax official who was responsible for collecting taxes from Diaspora Jews for the Essene treasury.  

Of all the disciples, Thomas had the noblest pedigree although he was to develop a mocking cognomen as “Doubting Thomas”. His real name was Crown Prince Philip I. As a youngster though, he was known as Herod II. He was the son of King Herod the Great (37 to 4 BC) by his wife Marriamne II. Then when Marriamne II was sent packing after being implicated in a poison plot against the King, young Phillip was disinherited, whereupon his half-brother Herod Antipas was named heir. Because of the ignominy of his forfeiture of the inheritance, Phillip I was given the nickname Esau, who lost his birthright to his younger brother Jacob, and was therefore derisively called “Teoma” (Thomas in English), which is Aramaic for “twin”. In Greek, the word for twin is “Didymus”. Thus Thomas Didymus (“Twin Twin”), as he is sometimes referred to, is tautologous.  In the Jesus faction, Thomas was also a twin to Jesus figuratively speaking because only the two of them were of royal descent. Indeed, some petty, early historians mistook this hilarious characterisation of the two to band about the bunkum that Jesus and Thomas were biological twins.   


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Let’s Get BPO Industry Out of its Present Limbo

26th October 2020
Majakathata “Jax” Pheko

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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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Cyrus Frees the Jews

26th October 2020
In 538 BC, Cyrus, ruler of the Persian Empire

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.

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Understanding Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework: Litigation

26th October 2020

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

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