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Mathokgwane’s resignation: Lessons & Implications

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

When the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Goodhope-Mabule constituency, Honorable James Mathokgwane, resigned only seven months after he was elected, the nation and his constituency were left in utter shock, especially that the resignation was sudden. Not only that. Some of his voters alleged, through radio phone-in programmes, that he neither consulted nor at least informed them of the resignation claiming that they only learnt about it through the media.

While initially the reason for his resignation was stated as ‘for personal reasons’ Mathokgwane was later quoted as citing his diabetic condition as the reason for the resignation, stating that on medical advice he had decided to resign since his condition has deteriorated since he became an MP. He implied that the deterioration was caused by the agitation that is often occasioned by his functions as an MP.

At almost the same time that the reasons for his resignation became public, it emerged that Mathokgwane was appointed as Regional Director (Operations) with the Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) only a day after attending the job interview. If this is true, it is extra ordinary indeed.  

In this article, I consider the lessons that can be learnt from Mathokgwane’s resignation. I also consider the implications of the resignation for Mathokgwane himself, the Botswana National Front (BNF), the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and to the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

If a people’s representative can resign so suddenly and without consulting or at least informing his electorate there is a problem with our representative democracy. An employee, even a low level employee earning less than One Thousand Pula a month, is required by law to give notice, usually one month, or pay the employer an equivalent of one month’s salary in lieu of notice. The employer is expected to do the same when he or she terminates an employee’s contract of employment.

What about an MP or Councilor who was elected by the people and is supposed to serve them? Should it not be part of our law that an MP or Councilor, who is a people’s servant, should serve notice prior to resigning?

Should it not be part of our law that an MP or Councilor should consult or at least inform his or her voters prior to resigning? Should an MP or Councilor not account to his or her voters or at least give a report of his or her tenure of office prior to resigning? Is it not ironical that an MP or Councilor can resign whenever he or she wants but the voters who put him or her into office cannot recall him or her from office for underperformance?

Mathokgwane’s integrity may have been dented irreparably in the eyes of his voters to the extent that he may never be trusted with public office again. Though they acknowledge that conditions differ from one individual to another, people are wondering how diabetes, a condition suffered by many people, can lead one to resign from his job. They give examples of known diabetics who hold more demanding positions than that of an MP but have not resigned their jobs.

Others wonder whether by joining SPEDU Mathokgwane implies that SPEDU has no challenges which can cause the same aggravation to his health that he suffered when he was an MP. Some argue that considering the enormous challenge of diversifying Selibe Phikwe away from dependence on copper and nickel bestowed upon SPEDU, the SPEDU job may be more challenging and stressful than that of an MP. They think that Mathokgwane is using his diabetes condition as an excuse to abandon his voters for greener pastures.

They think that the real reason for Mathokgwane’s resignation is an insatiable desire to amass wealth and that he has chosen his own well-being over that of his voters who entrusted him with their lives less than seven month ago.

Mathokgwane did not help the situation when he reportedly stated that he would not compromise his life for politics because if he dropped dead today politics would not take care of his children. One wonders whether he was not aware of that seven months ago when he promised to serve Barolong with all his might and will. One also wonders who would take care of the children of his campaign agents, for example, who risked their lives for him, if they dropped dead or had been killed during the campaigns.

Other people believe that Mathokgwane was ‘bought’ by the ruling BDP to resign so that it can re-gain the seat through a bye election. They allege that the mysterious way in which Mathokgwane got the SPEDU job suggests that the job was given to him in return for his resignation. Though this and the aforesaid allegations against Mathokgwane may be untrue they have irreparably eroded his integrity.

Following Mathokgwane’s resignation, which followed that of a UDC councilor in Kgatleng, some people claim that this is an indication that the UDC cannot be trusted with forming a stable government when it assumes state power.

They allege that the UDC is guilty of greed, the very vice it has always blamed the BDP for. While the number of resignations by UDC representatives is not that many for one to draw such a conclusion, this may work against the UDC. Unfortunately, in politics perceptions are often regarded as fact.

Tainted by this perception, which the BDP and the BCP are relishing, if the UDC does not work very hard to dispel the perception before the bye elections it may lose the seat. After all, the UDC won the Parliamentary seat with a slim majority. Also, the BDP won many Council seats. The BDP’s loss of the Parliamentary seat may have had more to do with the voters’ dislike for the then BDP candidate, Honorable Kitso Mokaila, than with their dislike for the BDP itself.

Not only that. At the last general elections the UDC was riding on the high winds of change, Moono, which do not necessarily prevail today. Such issues which gave traction to the Moono wave as alleged extra-judicial killings by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), the alleged assassination of Gomolemo Motswaledi, the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM)’s disputes with the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) are no longer as topical. Also, some are of the view that the UDC has performed below expectation in Parliament.

Considering that his popularity ratings have not risen since the general elections and may have in fact declined further as a result of the water and electricity shortages, the UDC’s prospects of victory may only be enhanced if Honorable Mokaila contests the bye elections.

If he does not stand and Honorable Eric Molale stands instead the UDC may lose the seat. The fact that he comes from Phitshane Molopo, a village which has not produced an MP for many years, the people from Phitshane Molopo and surrounding villages may want to see one of their own in Parliament.

Molale’s candidacy, if he does in fact resign as Specially Elected Member of Parliament and contests the bye elections, may also be a setback for the UDC because as the Minister for Presidential Affairs & Public Administration and having been Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) for many years, he has some gravitas which puts him in good stead.

In fact, rumor has it that those advocating for his candidature use the argument that considering that he has the credentials to be the next Vice President, it is better for the BDP that he earns an elected seat as early as now. This, it is reported, is going down well with the people from the constituency whose region has not produced a Vice President since independence.

For the UDC to win the seat it needs to have a strong candidate. If reports that Kgosi Lotlamoreng II intends to contest the seat under the UDC banner are anything to go by, he may be the only live line for the UDC. He may win not because he has much political gravitas but because he is Kgosi and, like Batawana with Kgosi Tawana Moremi II, Barolong may want to see their Kgosi in Parliament.

After all, given his intellect he is not of much use as a Kgosi, some argue. Also, his efforts to become chairperson of Ntlo ya Dikgosi have been thwarted by Kgosi Puso Gaborone of Batlokwa who many say is in the BDP’s good books.

The BCP too needs to have a strong candidate if it is to win the bye election, especially if Honorable Eric Molale and Kgosi Lotlamoreng II were to stand for the BDP and UDC respectively. Clearly, the BCP’s likely candidate, Comfort Maruping, who has contested and lost the seat several times before, has no political gravitas to challenge Honorable Eric Molale and Kgosi Lotlamoreng II.

This notwithstanding, the BCP may surprise many if the fact that since the general elections it has, against all odds, won one council bye election in Kgatleng from the UDC is anything to go by.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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