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BMD’s conflicts, BDP’s live line in 2019?

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Recent conflicts within the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), which may inevitably spill over to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), have compelled me to break from the series ‘Remembering the unwanted’ to which I will return next week.

For some time now there has been conflict within the BMD. At some point in time, the BMD Youth League was tearing itself apart, with warring factions reportedly aligned to the two factions within the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

Then there was the issue of Advocate Sidney Pilane’s application for readmission into the party which was surprisingly met with fierce resistance by some within party. Seemingly, it is this issue, especially after his application was accepted by the Mochudi West constituency, which has brought so much unrest within the party, with some calling for the expulsion of the party Secretary General, Honourable Gilbert Mangole.

The issue of Pilane’s re-admission has gone out of hand to the extent that the party has to go for a Special Congress mainly for it. It is unprecedented for a party to call a Special Congress to determine an individual’s application to rejoin the party, let alone one who is its founding Vice President. But not even the imminence of the Special Congress has brought calm within the party.

Reportedly, the pro Pilane faction wants the party Vice President, Honourable Wynter Mmolotsi, to be expelled for causing instability within the party. According to Mmegi’s online edition of 1st June 2016, “…the pro Pilane team is not happy that the anti-Pilane team is using the current President and Vice President’s tour and rallies to canvass support from members.”

They dismiss the claim that the party President and Vice President’s tour is meant to inform members about what led to the collapse of the party’s NEC, saying that could be done during the impending Special Congress were all NEC members will be present to set the record straight should there be a misrepresentation of facts.

Mmegi’s report further states that “the pro-Pilane team also wants the Member of Parliament (MP) for Mogoditshane, Honourable Sedirwa Kgoroba, to be suspended from the party for continuing his attack on other party members on social media…”

This is surprising because the very pro-Pilane faction is said to be preaching reconciliation while the anti-Pilane group is said to be adamant that only a Special Congress can effectively resolve the impasse within the party which has resulted in the NEC being moribund.

My fear is that if the BMD conflict is not well managed it will affect the UDC. Inevitably, some of the UDC’s other members, the Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP), may, for political expediency, align with the BMD’s warring factions, something which can only exacerbate the conflict.

Not only that. The BMD’s conflict has delayed the Opposition’s cooperation talks which were supposed to start in April 2016. Reportedly, the anti-Pilane faction has objected to Pilane being part of the negotiation team, calling for vetting of members of the negotiation team, something which will take time, especially considering the current impasse within the BMD’s NEC.

The BMD conflicts are fodder for those within the BNF, BPP and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who are against cooperation. They will use it to justify their view that working with other parties may bring instability to their own parties, further diminishing their chances of success during the 2019 general elections.

This is worsened by the fact that many within the BNF and BCP do not really trust the BMD since it is ideologically closer to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) than it is to them. In fact, some believe that many in the BMD are likely to defect to the BDP should political dynamics shift in the BDP’s favour.

The BMD conflicts are even more fodder for the BDP. The BDP has always used the propaganda that Batswana should not vote for the Opposition since opposition parties are prone to conflict. It has warned the voter that if any of the opposition parties were to be elected to government Botswana will lose the peace and stability it is internationally acclaimed for.

Many Batswana, especially the elderly, the illiterate and those who live in rural areas have bought into this propaganda. Several of them, especially those who remember the BNF split, have started citing the BMD conflict as the reason why the Opposition cannot be trusted with governing the country.

Prior to the BDP’s split which resulted in the BMD’s formation, the BDP boasted of being the only political party in Botswana which has not suffered a split since independence. It cited with relish the BNF split which led to the formation of the BCP. But, that changed when it suffered the split which resulted in BMD’s formation.

In the face of the conflicts engulfing its offspring, the BMD, the BDP is embarking on a two pronged propaganda offensive. On the one hand it is using the conflict to prove that the blame for the split is not at its door step, but at the door step of those who defected, especially the leaders. Incidentally, and conveniently for the BDP, it is these leaders who form the embattled BMD’s NEC.

On the other hand, the BDP is appealing to those in the BMD to rejoin the BDP by telling them that they can never survive in the Opposition. They tell them that because of ideological differences they can never belong with such leftist diehards as the BMD’s Chairperson, Nehemiah Modubule, who was a member of the BNF for most of his life.

In the 2014 general elections, the BDP 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. While this was an indication that the BDP could lose power in 2019, the BMD’s conflicts, especially if they can spill over to the UDC and the BCP, are putting that in doubt.

This conflict, coupled with the conflict between the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) and Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) as well as the apparent divisions on opposition cooperation within the BCP, can deny Batswana a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a change of government.

It will be remembered that even prior to these conflict the BDP had begun a charm offensive to regain its voters, especially in relation to public servants. It came up with so-called initiatives which include an increase in the repayment period for Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS) housing loan from 10 years to 20 years.

In addition, it claims to have introduced free rent for employees in Category 1 Remote Area Service Allowance (RASA) earning areas; free internet and a special Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) scheme for public servants of grade D4 and below; and allowing Public Servants to engage in private businesses.

Also, government claims that in order to encourage a culture of saving among public servants, it initiated the Botswana Public Officers Savings and Credit Cooperative Society which was registered in April 2013. Its latest charm offensive was the introduction of the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP).

The UDC, therefore, has to assist the BMD to emerge from this conflict as quickly as possible to avoid further damage, lest the conflict, BOFEPUSU and BOPEU’s war and the BDP’s undeniable revival become the BDP’s live line in 2019.

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

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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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