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The Roots of Botswana Nationalist Politics Part 10:

Jeff Ramsay


For most of the colonial era, the British remained content with the system of indirect rule that was established by the territory's first 20th century Resident Commissioner, Ralph Williams (1901-06); a system that enabled a relative handful of white officials to maintain peace and collect revenue.

In this context, such administrative reforms as were implemented before 1960, most notably during the administrations of Charles Rey (1930-37) and Charles Arden-Clark (1937-42), did not alter William's basic monarchical concept that the British Crown held ultimate authority over the Protectorate’s dikgosi; who in turn were expected to uphold the Crown’s authority over their own people.

From this premise most colonial officials subsequently followed Williams' further view that the absolute authority of those dikgosi who were officially Gazetted as "chiefs" should be absolutely upheld so long as they maintained order, collected Hut Tax for the coffers of the colonial regime and were otherwise reasonably cooperative.

Addressing a kgotla meeting in November of 1901, Williams thus stated: “When the Government thinks that a chief is unfit to rule his people the Government will remove him, and say who shall be chief, but it is not for you to say. There is a Proclamation which provides that persons disturbing the peace of the country may be removed from it, the High Commissioner will not hesitate to enforce it upon you if he thinks it appropriate.”

Official British and popular Batswana perceptions of bogosi thus differed. To his people a kgosi remained at the apex of a participatory socio-political structure that was ideally manifested in the right of all adult male non-malata to take part in public discussions. Chiefs, however, sat at the bottom of a colonial hierarchy that functioned through a military-like chain of  mand.

This state of affairs inevitably gave rise to tension. While the relationship between dikgosi, their subjects and the British over the decades was often complex in practice, in the long term the contradictions inherent in the dikgosi/chiefs’ intermediary position weakened bogosi. As colonial chiefs they were expected to act as agents of a foreign regime who’s underlying material interest was in the underdevelopment of Botswana as a source of exploited migrant labour.

Official recognition of this process is reflected in a July 1916 minute by the Protectorate's then Financial Secretary, Eason, opposing new taxation proposals, in which he noted:

"I am not sure also that we are not gradually putting the territory into an economically unsound position by seeing interest and I believe capital go out of the country and laying no foundations for new trades nor the betterment of existing ones."

The broader implications of the Protectorate's status as a labour reserve for colonial capital was also recognized at an early date by Marxist intellectuals, including members of the Communist Party of South Africa.

In March 1919, at the inaugural congress of Comintern in Moscow, David Ivon Jones in his address on "Communism in South Africa", described Bechuanaland as an area where local government was "exercised by chiefs, petty chiefs, and headman, always of course under the supervision of the police patrol."

Turning to the regional macro economy he added: "This, then, is the function of the native territories, to serve as cheap breeding grounds for black labour- sucking it in or letting it out according to the demands of industry. By these means territories' Capital is relieved of the obligation of paying wages to cover the cost of the labourer of reproducing his kind."

After much debate the Party, reached an ideological turning point in 1928 with the adoption of its program for "an independent native South African republic as a stage towards a workers' and peasants' republic, with full and equal rights for all races black, coloured and white" in which it explicitly recognized that:

"South Africa is a black country, the majority of its population is black and so is the majority of the workers and peasants…The black peasantry constitutes the basic moving force of the revolution in alliance with and under the leadership of the working class."

From the 1920s South African Communists attempted to actively recruit Batswana migrant labourers, as well as those from the other rural reserves, into their ranks. There were also organized efforts to propagandise within the Protectorate through the underground distribution of the party's newspapers Umsebenzi/South African Worker and, later, Inkululeko. Both periodicals regularly carried articles in Setswana and Sesotho as well as English and other regional languages.

Articles about Botswana often appeared under the by-line of L.L. Leepile. In a ground breaking July 1926 feature "What the Ratshosas' Murder Trial did not reveal" Leepile described Gammangwato as being headed by a "ruling oligarchy" that "live in idleness whilst the mass of people remain in dreadful poverty." Even before Simon Ratshosa’s revelations, he also wrote of "the slavery of the Masarwa", while further noting that "several tribes, notably the Abirwa (Babirwa), struggled incessantly for freedom, but were always ruthlessly suppressed."

In the early 1930s, in the context of its stand against the banishment of the Bakwena Kgosi Sebele II and the temporary suspension of Tshekedi Khama (for the flogging of Phineas McIntosh), the Communist International championed Leepile’s call for an independent republic of "Botsoana", which would take control of the railway, abolish debts to white traders, and establish elected tribal councils."

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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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