Sir John Dalberg-Acton once said “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men”. Recent events indicate that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has been in power since 1965, has become drunk with power and power has begun to corrupt it absolutely.
Just this week, there were reports in a local private radio station, Duma FM, that following a directive from the Ministry of Lands & Housing, a BDP sectoral policy on land, which is part of the BDP manifesto for the 2014 general elections, is displayed in Land Board offices throughout the country. Further that the Ministry has ordered that the said sectoral policy be read to employees during their daily morning meetings.
If these reports are true, this will be an unfortunate situation since it is tantamount to politicization of the public service by the ruling party. When a citizen visits a government office or facility he or she expects to find the national flag, and documents or material bearing such national symbols as the coat of arms; and logos in the case of Councils and Land Boards.
Batswana do not expect to find documents or material with political party colors and logos displayed by public officials in government offices, be it at national or local authority level. They do not expect to find material with photos of His Excellency (HE) the President clad in BDP regalia. They expect to find only official photos with HE dressed in neutral colors and with his photos bearing the coat of arms since he, as Head of State, leads all of us despite our political party differences.
It is also improper for the ruling party to use its authority to influence the government as an employer to indoctrinate public servants with its political propaganda in government offices and during working hours. Like opposition political parties, the BDP should propagate its political messages at its own cost and through means that do not compromise the political neutrality of the public service.
Hopefully, such trade unions as Botswana Land Boards & Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) and Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) will sensitize their members to resist being brain washed by the BDP in this manner.
For many years the Opposition has been complaining that the BDP gains undue political advantage because during election campaigns HE and ministers use government resources. Reportedly, in the recent Good-hope-Mabule constituency bye-elections, HE used Botswana Defence Force (BDF) helicopters to traverse the constituency; and ministers abandoned their offices and used government vehicles driven by government employees during working hours in their house to house campaigns.
Immediately after the writ of elections was issued for the bye election, Specially Elected Member of Parliament (SEMP) and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale, reportedly abandoned his ministerial and parliamentary duties for the campaign for both his party’s primary elections and the bye elections.
When a Member of Parliament (MP) asked the Deputy Speaker to give an explanation for Molale’s continued absence from Parliament, a senior cabinet minister is reported to have interjected, claiming that giving an answer to such a question would set a bad precedent since other MPs have been absent from Parliament and no such question was asked.
Just prior to his party’s primary elections, Molale used government vehicles and drivers to campaign under the pretext that he was taking services to the people. It is not understandable why the Minister of Health did not take the lead since the so-called services were mostly health related. Botswana Television (Btv) and Radio Botswana (RB) covered the tour and gave it publicity as though it was an official tour when it was in fact a political campaign.
Botswana Television and Radio Botswana themselves have been used by the BDP to present itself as the only alternative for Batswana. While such BDP political events as political rallies and meetings are covered extensively, and HE is often accorded one sided propaganda interviews, the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition is seldom covered. When it is covered, emphasis is put on such negatives as political party in-fighting and poor political rally and meeting attendance as though the BDP is free of such.
High ranking government officials have resigned their positions today only to be sworn in as BDP MPs the following day. Examples are HE when he resigned from the BDF only to be Vice President the following day. Molale himself resigned as Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) only to be nominated and elected as Specially Elected Member of Parliament the following day and later appointed Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. This only confirms that such officials would not only have been card carrying members of the BDP, but would have been covertly involved in the party’s operations.
Yet, if such reports are true, the BDP led government has been swift to purge the officials it suspected and/or knew were Opposition sympathizers. Former Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) and Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) president, Japhta Radebe, and MP for Gabane-Mmankgodi constituency, and former Commander of BDF Ground Forces, Major General Pius Mokgware, are examples. Their careers were cut short because of suspected allegiance to the Opposition.
Just this week, there have been reports that the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) has bowed to political pressure from the ruling BDP to transfer the majority of the teaching staff at Goodhope Senior Secondary School who have been accused of supporting the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the just ended Good hope-Mabule constituency bye election. Reportedly, at least eighteen teachers and part of Management will be transferred to other schools.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development’s claim that the transfers are a normal administrative action aimed at addressing declining performance at the school is not convincing. Many schools have had similar and even worse performance and behavioral problems and the solution to the problem has never been as drastic and unreasonable as this. I say unreasonable because this, being the last term of the year, the transfers are, no doubt, going to affect the students adversely. Also, have the teachers been the only cause for the poor performance?
Sometime in 2013 we witnessed with regret when prominent members of the BDP used their numbers and influence in the Council to frustrate and ultimately oust the then president of the then Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry & Manpower (BOCCIM) and now Business Botswana, Alex Letlhogonolo Monchusi, following his stand-off with the Chief Executive Officer, Maria Machailo-Ellis.
Having witnessed how the blurring of the line between the government and the ruling party has been detrimental to democracy in many countries one would not want to see Botswana going that route. Zimbabwe is, today, a sorry shadow of its real self because there is no difference between the ruling party, ZANU-PF, and the government.
In South Africa, what the African National Congress (ANC) decides at Luthuli House becomes government policy. China has one of the world’s worst human rights records because the Communist Party is essentially the government. North Korea, Venezuela and Bolivia are worse since they essentially have no government, they being ruled by the party and the military.
If the BDP does not take heed of Sir John Dalberg-Acton’s words, it will confirm his words that because of corruption by power “great men are almost always bad men”. In this context, the words would be “great parties are almost always bad parties” for there is no doubt that before it allowed power to corrupt it and corrupt it absolutely the BDP was a great party. It is as a result of this corruption by power that its continued reign is now under threat. It is this corruption by power which may, in the next general elections, bring BDP’s rule to an end.
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.
… 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.
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”!