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Roots of Botswana Nationalist Politics (Part 21): MK, MI6 and the pipeline

Jeff Ramsay

We left off last week with the Mpho and Motsete-Matante factions of the BPP each planning rival meetings to take place in Lobatse on the 19th of August 1962.

Within the colonial administration there was concern that serious clashes might result. This fear increased when, on the 16th of August, Jacob Lesabeer and two other pro-Mpho Francistowners reported to the police “that 7 members of the B.P.P. Youth League had threatened them that if they attended the Mpho meeting in Lobatsi on the 19th August, they would be killed and their property burned.”

The seven were taken into custody and eventually fined. Their hearing sparked off a small riot, on the 22nd of August, when police fired teargas to disperse a predominately female crowd of some 200 Matante supporters who reportedly attempted to storm the Francistown courthouse; resulting in an additional 38 arrests. In response the police implemented a security operation of surveillance and contingency controls at Lobatse, codenamed "Weekend Jaunt"; which included the deployment of the Police Mobile Unit.

The rival meetings went ahead on the 19th without serious incident. Between 9.20 am and 1.45 pm. eighty pro-Mpho “delegates” and fluctuating number of additional supporters crowded into the local beer hall to elect a new President (Mpho), National Executive (with Mpho's brother-in-law Jitiro Macheng as Secretary-General), and branch leaders. The resulting organization continued to call itself the BPP until 1964, when it reconstituted itself as the Botswana Independence Party.

Among those whose attendance attracted official attention was another Mpho in-law, the Wayeyi separatist Chombo Saundo, whose 1961 civil disobedience campaign against the Batawana Tribal Administration had been crushed by the British. The gathering, nonetheless, reaffirmed itself as: “The leadership that shall not help the Imperialists and Colonialists to continue to divide the already divided Africa.”

Across town there was a larger gathering of Matante-Motsete supporters at the Freedom Square. This meeting was ostensibly held to canvass opinion against the Protectorate's “so-called Land Tenure System”, in preparation for Matante's scheduled September 10th 1962 appearance before the United Nations Committee on Colonialism. It also served as a show of strength and an opportunity to introduce Maruping and other newly appointed National Executive members to the branches.

Beyond any general appreciation of the day's tranquillity, the British were relieved that their worst fears about an open ANC presence had failed to materialize. At the highest level of the Bechuanaland Protectorate administration concern that Mpho's group might become too closely identified with the ANC was connected with a fear of exposing the "pipeline".

The "pipeline" was a covert operation that informally linked agents of the British Special Intelligence Service (MI6) and elements of the ANC, including the embryonic Umkonto we Sizwe (MK), in order to fly politically sensitive refugees out of the Protectorate to Tanganyika. The need for such an arrangement had become apparent in March-April 1960 when delays in arranging the passage of Oliver Tambo among others had risked South African intervention.

Within the Protectorate, covert British involvement in the "pipeline" was under the personal control of the Resident Commissioner, Peter Fawcus. With much of the Protectorate Administration, including the police Special Branch, considered to be suspect on matters involving political refugees, only a handful of subordinates were trusted by Fawcus to facilitate their movement. These included the then Lobatse Police inspector John Sheppard, Kasane D.C. Brian Egner and Francistown D.C. Phil Steenkamp.

Another key figure was a private pilot named Herbert “Bertie” Bartuane.  In overt partnership with leading Lobatse meat tycoon Cyril Hurwitz and allegedly covert partnership with MI6, Bartuane operated two Cessna planes out of Lobatse as Bechuanaland Safaris Airways.

From the MK side the designated point man for the pipeline was Fish Keitseng (who kept the full extent of his ANC activities secrete from his BPP colleagues).

ʉ۬Having hosted Oliver Tambo in 1960, Seretse Khama was also kept in the loop, with occasional secret meetings at Serowe with senior ANC figures, including Nelson Mandela.

ʉ۬By 1962 the pipeline was working in both directions allowing the MK commander, Mandela, to become the "black pimpernel" by slipping in and out of South Africa via Botswana as David Motsamayi. Mandela last landed in the Protectorate, at Kanye, on July 23, 1962.

Two weeks later he was arrested at a Natal roadblock, the beginning of his long imprisonment. Within days of his capture the British were being challenged by the South African Police (S.A.P.) about his passage through the territory and contact with Seretse. An August 15th minute notes:

"I cannot help forming the opinion that the S.A.P. are aware of the fact that Mandela returned to the Republic via the B.P.", while an August 28th entry, following a SB conversation with an SAP sergeant, adds that "It was as a result of information from contacts in Serowe, so he said, that they were eventually able to arrest Mandela."

The British considered the latter statement to be deliberate disinformation, but decided that elements of the "pipeline" were now under jeopardy and needed to be closed down. Egner and Sheppard were thus hurriedly transferred out of the Protectorate to prevent their potential kidnapping.

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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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