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Botswana’s beacon of democracy light dims!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

According to last year’s Legatum Prosperity Index, Botswana ranked top of 142 African countries. Botswana was placed 1st in Africa and 41st in the world in good governance while emerging 32nd out of 162 countries in the most peaceful index. This was commendable indeed.

Regrettably, according to the 2015 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) Botswana’s record has deteriorated. This is probably the reason there has, especially since 2011, been an outcry from many quarters of the population, a factor which inarguably cost the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) during the 2014 general elections.  While its seats in the National Assembly fell from 45 in 2009 to 37 in 2014, its popular vote declined from 53.26% in 2009 to 46.7% in 2014.


The fact that, overall, Botswana has fallen from position 1 to position 3 out of 54 African countries is a cause for concern. That most countries in the continent, including the leader, Mauritius, have also suffered a decline should be no consolation to Botswana. Having for many years been rightly regarded as a beacon of democracy, Botswana’s fall from grace should be troubling enough.


Though the overall leaders, Mauritius, also fell from 81.7% in 2014 to 79.9% this year, Botswana should try to borrow a leaf from their book in terms of what she should do to be the overall best in Africa. Cabo Verde too, which obtained the second position at 74.5%, should be Botswana’s point of reference though it also suffered a decline from 76.6% in 2014.


The premise of this discussion is that for a country that has been performing as well as Botswana, a score of less than 70% for any of the indicators is not acceptable. Not only that. For such key indicators as respect for human rights, national security and personal security, a score of less than 85% is not good enough.


Botswana’s lowest score is in the area of Infrastructure where she attained a paltry 55.0%. While this score appears inaccurate considering the level of infrastructure in cities and towns, it may actually be a true reflection of the level of Botswana’s infrastructure, especially in relation to rural areas. No wonder several Economic commentators have argued that the reason the Agricultural sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (which was worth 15.81 billion US dollars in 2014) has declined over the years is that rural areas lack such infrastructure as good roads and electricity.


The red flag in our record this year is the fact that we are ranked eighth with respect to Participation and Human Rights, with a score of 66.2% in the rights sub-indice. There is no doubt that such scourges as the murder of John Kalafatis by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF); the ill-treatment of such minority tribes as Basarwa; and the failure to accord full rights to gays, lesbians and the transgendered have contributed to such deterioration in our human rights record.


Our deplorable performance in the area of Gender Issues, in which Botswana is ranked 19th on the continent, did not come as a surprise. How can we expect to get any score more than 62.3% when of the sixteen cabinet ministers only three are women; of the eight Assistant Ministers only one is a woman; there is no female judge at the Court of Appeal; and only three  out of twenty four permanent judges of the High Court are women.


How can we perform higher than 62.3% in Gender Issues when only two out of seven Industrial Court judges are women; only four out of fifty-seven Elected Members of Parliament are women; and only one of the four Specially Elected Members of Parliament are women?


Though Botswana’s most improved categories this year were in the areas of Human Development and Rural Sector, with 79.5 and 66.7% respectively, performance with respect to Rural Sector is concerning. This is more so because the majority of our population lives in rural areas.

This shows that such government programmes as the poverty eradication programme; Young Farmers Fund; Public Works Programme (Ipelegeng); ISPAAD and LIMID have not had the desired impact as many political commentators have long warned.  


Though not very bad, our score of 67.6% in Public Management is another area of concern. This is probably the result of the intransigence that has been exhibited by the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM), especially in terms of its relations with the public service trade unions.

The way government has handled public service employees’ issues, especially after the 2011 public sector strike, has no doubt played a role in negating Botswana’s record.


Equally disconcerting is the score of 66.1% in the area of Sustainable Economic Opportunity where Botswana is ranked at position 4. This confirms the argument that many Batswana have always made that the so-called economic empowerment programmes that were introduced after President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama assumed office are not sustainable.


If government had heeded the public’s concerns that such programmes as the Youth Development Fund; Young Farmers Fund; Public Works Programme(Ipelegeng); ISPAAD; LIMID; National Youth Service( Tirelo Sechaba); and the National Internship Programme need improvement in order to have significant economic impact Botswana could be rating higher in Sustainable Economic Opportunity. This is such a critical indicator that a score less than 75% is not good enough.      


Though we are not position 1 in the continent, the scores of 82.7% and 79.5% in Safety and Security and Human Development respectively are worthy of praise. But, the fact that we are ranked second in Safety and Security is concerning since it shows that such eye sores as the extra judicial killing of John Kalafatis and the alleged torture by the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS) have made Batswana not to feel safe and secure in their own country. This is supported by the fact that our score in the area of personal safety is a mere 63.1%.  


While it is commendable that Botswana attained an almost perfect score of 99.9% with respect to National Security, such gains may have been at the expense of human rights and personal security for which, as shown above, Botswana has underperformed. If Botswana does not address the areas where she underperformed, her gains in National Security will be negated since a discontent citizenry is prone to influence by forces which can be a threat to national security.  


The aforegoing notwithstanding, Botswana needs to be applauded for performing very well in the arears of Accountability (72.3%); Education (74.0%); Business Environment (75.3%); Participation (77.1%); Social Welfare (79.2%); Health (85.3%) and the Rule of Law (95.5%). However, our admirable record on the Rule of Law may be under threat because of the affront to judicial independence which seems to be taking root.


While some people argue that rankings by such international organizations as the IIAG are not a true reflection of what actually obtains on the ground, I believe the rankings are reliable since they are a result of scientific research conducted by credible organizations. As shown above, the rankings are not one sided because they reflect a country’s underperformance in as much as they reflect its high performance. For example, while Botswana has scored as high as 99.9% in National Security it has scored as low as 55.0% in Infrastructure.

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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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