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Khama is unlikely to seek a third term

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

In terms of section 34(1) of the Constitution of Botswana “the President shall, subject to the provision of this section, hold office for an aggregate period not exceeding ten years beginning from the date of his first assumption of Office of President after the commencement of this Act.”

In terms of 34(1), President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, who though he succeeded Festus Mogae on 1st April 2008, started his full term of office after the October 2009 general elections, will have his ten year tenure elapse in 2019. He will, therefore, be compelled to leave office.

Recently, there have been media reports that unlike his predecessor, Festus Mogae, who followed the constitution and left office when his ten year tenure lapsed, President Khama intends to orchestrate a constitutional amendment in terms of section 89 of the Constitution so that he serves a third term. Considering Botswana’s respect for the rule of law, these are serious allegations that deserve comment.

Admittedly, when in August 2008 the then Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Oliphant Mfa, made calls for President Khama to seek a third term I suspected that he was stating the intentions that President Khama actually harbored. I thought President Khama was using Mfa as a proxy to test the waters. To me, it was not possible that a Minister in President Khama’s office can make such serious remarks without first consulting the President.

Today, my view has changed and I am inclined to believe that President Khama is unlikely to seek a third term.  This change of view is motivated by several developments which include his respect for the rule of law and the official response that Office of the President has made regarding the third term allegations.

Recently, several high profile cases have served before the courts which tested President Khama’s respect for the rule of law. These include the Francis town West bye election case; the Essential Services case and the Parliamentary Standing Orders case, all of which government lost, but abided by the decision of the courts.

The Francis town West bye election case, for example, was so significant that as a result of the court’s ruling against the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and its candidate, Ignatius Moswaane, the BDP did not contest the elections because the courts held that the BDP failed to make a proper nomination of its candidate to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and that the IEC acted lawfully in refusing to accept his nomination.

The Parliamentary Standing Orders case was even more significant because it had the potential to put President Khama’s succession plan into disarray because of the possibility that some BDP Members of Parliament (MPs), would, under the cover of voting by secret ballot, vote against President Khama’s nominations for His Honour the Vice President and the Speaker of the National Assembly.

Yet, President Khama demonstrated his respect for the rule of law and constitutional democracy by abiding by the courts’ decisions. Since he and the government have the right to refer matters to the courts, the issue is not that he took the matters to the courts, but that he abided by the decision of the courts.

Those who believe President Khama may seek a third term say their fears are based on past incidents which indicate that President Khama does not respect the rule of law. They cite the incident where, following their conviction and sentence to imprisonment by the courts, President Khama pardoned the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) soldiers who killed John Kalafatis.

While the pardon justifiably raised eye brows considering the gruesome and unjustified murder of Kalafatis, a presidential pardon is permissible in terms of our law. Section 53 (a) of the Constitution provides that “the President may grant to any person convicted of any offence a pardon, either for free or on lawful conditions. In terms of section 53 (d) of the Constitution the President may also “remit the whole or part of any punishment imposed on any person for any offence or penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the Government on account of any offence”.

Therefore, Kalafatis’ case cannot be used to prove that President Khama does not respect the rule of law and constitutional democracy. Disdainful as Kalafatis’ murderers’ pardon was, President Khama used his presidential prerogative in terms of the Constitution and to the extent the pardon has not been set aside by the courts it remains lawful and constitutional.

Others argue that the way President Khama has been trying to control the judiciary by rejecting some recommendations for judicial appointment by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and his recent appointment of a tribunal in terms of section 97(3) of the Constitution to investigate some judges for possible removal, shows that he wants to bring the judiciary to his side so that when he seeks a third term efforts to challenge it at the courts would fail.

The issue of whether or not the President can lawfully decline the recommendation of the JSC is presently before the courts following the President’s declination to appoint attorney Omphemetse Motumise. Therefore, until the courts pronounce on it, no one can say for certain that President Khama’s view, supported by the JSC, that he has the discretion to decline the JSC’s recommendation is wrong or right.

Similarly, no one can say for certain that Motumise and the Law Society of Botswana’s view that President Khama is compelled to endorse the JSC’s recommendation is wrong or right. Also, to the extent that the issue of the section 97(3) tribunal is still before the courts and is yet to be adjudicated upon, it is inapposite to draw any conclusions.

With respect to the two cases aforesaid, what matters is how President Khama will react to the courts’ findings. If he abides by the courts’ decision, as he has done in the past, his record for respect for the rule of law and constitutionalism will be further enhanced.  This will further prove that he is unlikely to amend the Constitution so that it allows him to serve a third term.

Based on respect for the rule of law alone, it can be safely concluded that President Khama, who has throughout his tenure demonstrated his respect for the Constitution, is unlikely to, at the end of his tenure, show disregard for the Constitution and seek a third term. Granted, there are some in the BDP who, for their own political survival, want President Khama to seek a third term, but I am not convinced that he will relent to such and abdicate his value for the constitution.

Recently, there have been media reports that the process of building the retirement home for the President Khama has commenced. If indeed President Khama has intentions to seek a third term, why would his retirement home be built now since even during the third term he would be entitled to stay at the State House?

Following the rumours that before he leaves office President Khama will appoint his brother, Honorable Tshekedi Khama, as Vice President so that he and not His Honour the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi succeeds him as President, President Khama has dismissed the rumours confirming that Masisi will succeed him. Can someone who intends to extend his term of office make such confirmation?

But, perhaps more assuring is the fact that recently Office of the President(OP) issued a press release confirming that President Khama has no intention to seek a third term. According to Botswana government’s official newspaper, Botswana Daily News, of 21st September 2015, the press release states that “this office (OP) wishes to state for the record that President Khama has on numerous occasions indicated that he is on his last term of office.”

The press release also states that “…the President had expressed his views about such fundamentals of democracy, especially in light of developments in this regard in the continent and elsewhere, the last such announcement being during the 35th Ordinary Session of the SADC Heads of State meetings press briefing”. Can someone who intends to extend his term of office issue such a press release?

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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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