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Roots of Botswana Nationalist Politics (Part 18): The BPP Split

Jeff Ramsay

Notwithstanding the BDP's emergence during the early months of 1962, the BPP with its external support, head start, committed militants, and populist appeal, still remained a credible contender for national leadership. But, the Party's future hopes were by then already being undermined by infighting.

A key factor contributing to this breakdown was an absence of sufficient financial control and oversight. The channelling of considerable sums of money through the private bank accounts of Phillip Matante in particular gave rise to allegations of misappropriation. To a greater extent the funds in question were from external supporters, most notably Ghanaian government then led by Kwame Nkrumah.

Questions over financial management soon became intertwined with those of power. Thus when Motsamai Mpho called for the establishment of a central BPP headquarters at his then home base of Palapye, which would coordinate finances, his proposal was apparently looked upon as a power grab by both Matante, in Francistown, and K.T. Motsete, in Lobatse.

By June 1962 dissension had surfaced in the South African press over the local leadership and allocation of party resources at Lobatse, where Motsete seems to have been more respected than followed by the rank-in-file.

The situation within the BPP was further complicated by the participation of political refugees from South Africa and elsewhere in party affairs, more especially at Lobatse and Francistown. The open existence, until 1963, of BPP branches among Batswana migrant-workers inside South Africa at a time when the ANC and PAC had already been driven underground, further tied the party to external forces: prior to the split perhaps one third of the party's membership was based in South Africa.

The early 1962 break-up of the South African United Front, an umbrella alliance between the exiled wings of the ANC and PAC, thus provided further, if not cause, for the growth of tensions within the BPP.

On June 20th 1962, Mpho forwarded the following letter to Secretary of the Lobatse branch, Moses Monakwe, which was copied to all other members of the BPP National Executive:

“Dear Son of Africa, Your branch is informed that the National Executive has agreed to come and investigate your branch organizational difficulties on the 28th June, 1962 in the evening including the 29th June, 1962 if the investigation will not be finished on the night of the 28th June. Hoping that the branch will continue to do its day-to-day branch work. Yours in the struggle for Independence and a free united Africa.”

But when Mpho finally arrived at Lobatse, on the 29th June, he found that Monakwe, along with the branch Chairman, Fish Keitseng, and Treasurer, James Molale, had already been told that they were suspended by Matante, who had arrived on the 27th at Motsete's request.

Also on the 27th of June 1962 Matante, accompanied by five others and with the knowledge of Motsete, is alleged to have briefly abducted an ANC refugee named Maxwell Mlonyeni, who was then active in the Lobatse branch's affairs.

According to Mlonyeni's sworn police statement, he was initially tricked into accompanying Matante with a story that an acquaintance of his had died. He was then driven from his workplace, at Otsi's Bamalete Manganese Mine, to the Zeerust border crossing.

There Matante is further alleged to have made sure that he signed the departure register, while informing the policeman on duty that the refugee was being deported with the knowledge of the District Commissioner.

After crossing without incident into South Africa, Mlonyeni managed to re-enter the Protectorate, by bypassing the border gate, and made his way to Peleng Township. On the following day he filed a police complaint against Matante.

There were thus already considerable grounds for acrimony on Friday evening, the 29th, when Mpho, himself, was approached by Matante, who had just ferried down more supporters from Francistown. Matante now demanded that Mpho turn over the keys to the party Landrover in his charge, but the Secretary-General refused, reportedly sparking "considerable argument that continued on to the following day."

On Saturday morning Matante and Motsete tried unsuccessfully to dissuade Mpho from joining them in attending a scheduled rally at Kanye. The three then set out with their followers, each in their respective party Landrover, to the Bangwaketse capital. There, in contrast to the polite reception that the BPP had received on previous occasions, they were continuously heckled “as a bunch of tsotsis” and bribe takers by a hostile crowd of some 700.

That evening, Matante saw Mlonyeni in the street at Lobatse and publicly abused him, warning that he would be dealt with for having come back after being thrown out of the territory. But no further action took place at that time.

Everything was set for a Sunday morning showdown. It came shortly after sunrise, when some of Matante's partisans briefly toured Peleng in their Landrover, calling on its residents to attend a morning rally. (to be continued)

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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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