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Botswana’s Vision 2036: a false start!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

On 19th October 2015 President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama launched a thirty four member Presidential Task Team on the Development of the New Long Term Vision for Botswana, Vision 2036.

According to the government owned Daily Newspaper, this Task Team, which will be chaired by De Beers Chief Executive Officer and former Member of Parliament (MP) and Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Neo Moroka, is expected to conclude the draft vision document by May 2016 so that it is adopted by the National Assembly during its sitting of July/August 2016. Reportedly, thereafter, the Vision 2036 document will be launched in September 2016 when the current Vision comes to an end.

It seems to me that with this brief back ground alone Botswana has had a false start for the development of the Vision 2036 document and I will discuss the reasons thereto in turn. Firstly, the Task Team will have only five months to produce the draft Vision document. In my view, this time is not enough considering the fact that the Task Team has to review Vision 2016’s evaluation reports; review the Vision 2036 framework developed by the National Strategy Office and consult the public through the press, meetings, seminars and submissions by individuals and/or organizations and any other platform including electronic media.

Surely, a document as important as a country’s Vision, which will determine the country’s development path for the next twenty years, cannot be adequately done within a time period equivalent to one school term. Even junior secondary school students doing mini-projects in such subjects as Design and Technology and Home Economics need about a full year to complete their projects.

The five months given to the Task Team are only enough for the Vision 2016’s evaluation phase. If done properly, e.g. through kgotla meetings, public consultations and consolidating the input from the public, public consultations will require at least one year considering how vast Botswana is. The question is: why did the government wait until this late to constitute the Task Team?

Secondly, though the Task Team is diverse in terms of the various sectors of the society, e.g. youth, women, people living with disabilities, faith based groups and sports, it is not diverse in terms of having people with dissenting views from those of government. Most of the Task Team’s members, especially high profile members, are well known supporters of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Conspicuously absent from the Task Team are prominent Opposition politicians, non-conformist academics, progressive student organizations, minority right interest groups, etc. These people often criticize government policy not because they are not patriotic, but because they want the best for their country. They too love their Botswana and are not enemies of the state.

A country’s Vision is not built on false consensus. It is built on true consensus which comes after divergent, and even dissident views, are heared. This is the essence of one of our national principles, therisano, i.e. consultation. That is why our forefathers and foremothers said: ‘mmualebe o bua la gagwe gore mona lentle a tswe la gagwe’ and ‘mafoko a kgotla a mantle otlhe’. These adages simply call for tolerance of differing views within Tswana culture. Yet, today some of our greatest minds are isolated from making such contributions to their country’s development as Vision 2036’s development simply because they question some of government’s policies.  

Many of the high profile members of the Task Team have failed Batswana in the capacities they have held simply because to them patriotism is blind loyalty. In order to protect their positions, they have misled government by making it believe that Botswana is on a growth path when, as shown by such reports as the 2015 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), it is on a decline.

Thirdly, because Batswana have not been adequately involved in Vision 2016’s evaluation exercise, Vision 2036 will rest on a defective foundation because it will not be based on an honest assessment of the country’s performance in pursuit of achieving the Vision 2016 ideals. How does one build a strong second house if he or she has no benefit of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the first house?

Fourthly, not even MPs who are expected to adopt the Vision 2036 document in July/August 2016 will have had enough time to consult their constituencies on the document. There will be only one month between the Task Team’s presentation of the draft document in May 2016 and the National Assembly’s sitting in July 2016.

Therefore, MPs will have only one month to familiarize themselves with the Vision 2036 document and to consult their constituencies on it. Will the Vision 2036 document have been legitimately adopted by the National Assembly? Will it truly reflect Batswana’s views and aspirations? Will our future generations truly inherit a people’s legacy?

Fifth, I foresee problems as regards the Task Team and the National Strategy Office’s roles and responsibilities in the development of the Vision 2036 document. How can one builder, for example, be responsible for setting the foundation and pillars and the other lays the bricks? The building’s structure will no doubt be defective. The Task Team should have been involved right from the time the framework for Vision 2036 was developed and not be merely relegated to its evaluation.

As we speak today, can we comfortably say an average Motswana knows how his or her country has fared under Vision 2016? Even if they are consulted on the Vision 2036 document, how will they know what areas to focus on when making suggestions?

We have just celebrated our fourty nine years of independence. As a build up to Independence Day celebrations, could n’t we have taken advantage of that to get Batswana’s views on Vision 2016’s implementation and the areas of emphasis for Vision 2036? We missed a great opportunity, especially that this year’s Independence Day celebrations were a build up to our 50th anniversary which coincides with the launch of Vision 2036.

When Vision 2016 was developed I was still a young man, but I remember that almost everyone knew about it. Students used to draw the Vision 2016 logo on their exercise book covers.  Batswana, in both rural and urban areas, were consulted. It truly was their Vision and the slogan ‘Vision 2016 ke yame’, i.e. ‘Vision 2016 is mine’ was indeed true. Sadly, as years went by Batswana’s Vision was taken away from them and it now belonged to consultants who made millions through consultancy fees.

Now, are Batswana going to be denied the Vision 2036 as well? In Setswana culture there is nothing as painful as being denied your child as well as your grandchild. Since Batswana were denied their child, Vision 2016, they should at least not be denied their grandchild, Vision 2036. That will be taboo.

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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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