The 2014 general elections saw the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) suffering its worst electoral performance since its formation. 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.
For many people, including me, this signaled the imminent end of the BDP rule, with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) expected to attain state power in 2019. However, recent developments indicate that the BDP may win the 2019 general elections, albeit with a thin margin.
While it may appear to be too early to make such a conclusion, history has shown that unless the government grossly fails in its mandate the people, because of the fear of the unknown, are unlikely to change the government. Often, especially in Africa, exceptional conditions have to exist for an opposition party to win elections.
In my view, such conditions, for instance the dissatisfaction of public servants after the 2011 public sector strike; the 2010 split of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) from the BDP and the alleged assassination of UDC Secretary General and BMD President, Gomolemo Motswaledi, existed in 2014, but the Opposition failed to use such conditions to win elections.
While the BDP’s win will partly be because of its own positive efforts since 2014, it will also be, or perhaps mainly be, as a result of the indiscretions of the Opposition itself. The Opposition may lose the elections because of inner party conflicts and poor performance by its Members of Parliament (MPs) and/or leaders.
One of the constituencies that the Opposition may lose is Tlokweng. Though the margin between the UDC’s Honourable Same Bathobakae and the BDP’s Olebile Gaborone was a healthy 2,575 votes, Bathobakae’s underperformance coupled with the fact that the BDP’s popular Elijah Katse may be the BDP’s candidate the BDP may retake the constituency.
The other Opposition constituency which is at risk of being retaken by the BDP is Molepolole South. This, not only because the margin between the UDC’s Tlamelo Mmatli and longtime area MP, Daniel Kwelagobe, was only 387, but also because, like Honourable Bathobakae, Honourable Mmatli’s performance in Parliament is grossly under par.
Mephato Reatile, if he will be the BDP candidate for Jwaneng-Mabutsane in 2019, is likely to return to Parliament not only because he lost to the UDC’s Honourable Shawn Ntlhaile with only 544 votes, but because of Honourable Ntlhaile’s underperformance in Parliament. Not only that. Reatile’s position as Chairperson of the Southern District Council will, no doubt, give him political mileage.
The fact that despite support by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) the UDC, whose member, the Botswana National Front (BNF), had held the constituency for more than two decades, lost the March 2016 bye election to the BDP is writing on the wall. Reatile was the campaign manager for the bye elections.
Ramotswa is another constituency that should be of concern for the Opposition. Though the margin between the BCP’s Honourable Samuel Rantuana and the BDP’s Odirile Motlhale was a safe 618 votes, Motlhale may come back considering Honourable Rantuana’s near non-existence in Parliament.
The UDC’s Honourable Noah Salakae, who out seated longtime area MP, Johnie Swartz, in Gantsi North with only 314 votes is not safe either. This, especially after the government has started making inroads in rebuilding its relationship with Bakgalagadi and Basarwa.
Though the margin between the BDP’s Honourable Slumber Tsogwane and the UDC’s Sam Digwa was a mere 241, Honourable Tsogwane is unlikely to lose the seat. No doubt his position as Minister of Local Government and Rural Development is giving him the political mileage he needs to remain politically relevant despite his poor performance in Parliament.
The defection of Dumezweni Mthimkhulu, who, as an Independent, obtained 1,475 votes, from the BNF to the BDP has made Gaborone South safer for the BDP. The slim margin of 243 with which Honourable Kagiso Molatlhegi beat Murray Dipate may not be a factor. Not even the fact that the BCP’s Akanyang Magama got 2,318 is of concern given the BCP’s current political troubles.
Dr. Ditiro Majadibodu’s defection from the BCP to the BDP has made the Nata-Gweta constituency safer for the BDP. The 2,954 votes that Dr. Majadibodu got in 2014 may assist the BDP’s 3,424 votes which Honourable Polson Majaga got. But, the deciding factor may be the 2,931 voters who, in 2014, voted for an Independent candidate, Joe Linga.
Of course the Opposition, especially if the UDC and the BCP timeously enter into a cooperation agreement, may, too, wrestle some seats from the BDP. One likely such a constituency is Bobonong which the BCP’s Taolo Lucas lost with a mere 120 votes to the BDP’s Honourable Shaw Kgathi.
The other is Francistown West which the BDP’s Honourable Buti Billy won with a tiny majority of 245 votes against the BCP’s Morgan Moseki. The UDC’s 1,067 votes may be of essence, but only if the UDC and the BCP conclude their cooperation negotiations on time and BMD’s conflicts are brought to an end or better managed.
Though he won the Selibe Phikwe East constituency with a slim majority of only 242 votes against the BCP’s Kgoberego Nkawana, the BDP’s Honourable Nonofo Molefhi is likely to win in 2019 not only because of his popularity, but also because some people will want him to remain in Parliament so that he challenges for the country’s Vice Presidency or Presidency,
One factor that may lead to the BDP losing the constituency is if those aligned to His Honour the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, succeed in ensuring Honourable Molefhi’s downfall during the party’s primary elections in order to eliminate him as a potential contender for the Presidency.
But if that plan succeeds and Honourable Molefhi is replaced with His Worship the Mayor of Selibe Phikwe, Councilor Amogelang Mojuta, as it is alleged is the plan, Councilor Mojuta is likely to win the seat considering his influence as a Mayor and the fact that his mother, Kgosi Olebogeng Mojuta, has been Court President in Botshabelo since 2003.
The other factor that may lead to the BDP losing the Selibe Phikwe East constituency is the poor management at the BCL mine which has led to loss of jobs and recently led to the death of four miners in a mine accident. According to Mmegi’s online edition of 9th June 2016, “… for the past two years (2014/2015) the mine recorded the highest number of fatalities in the sector, with 11 deaths.”
The BDP may also lose the Ngami constituency. The BDP’s Thato Kwerepe, who prevailed upon the BCP’s Taolo Habano with a mere 48 votes may lose, especially if the BCP and the UDC cooperate considering that the latter had garnered 802 votes in 2014.
The BDP is not safe at Kanye North constituency where its Honourable Patrick Ralotsia won against the UDC’s Kwenantle Gaseitsiwe with a meagre 72 votes. If the UDC and the BCP cooperate in 2019 the 9,638 votes jointly obtained by the UDC and the BCP may be a toll order for the BDP to surpass. While Kwenantle Gaseitsiwe had got 5,654 votes, the BCP’s Kentse Rammidi had obtained 4,030 votes.
Equally unsafe for the BDP is Kgalagadi North constituency which the BDP’s Itumeleng Moipisi won against the UDC’s Phillip Khwae with a mere 238 votes. Khwae, a formidable grassroots campaigner, may come back in 2019, especially if the UDC and the BCP were to timeously enter into a cooperation agreement.
In 2019, therefore, the BDP may wrestle five constituencies from the Opposition, namely Tlokweng, Molepolole South, Jwaneng-Mabutsane, Ramotswa and Gantsi North. The Opposition, on the other hand, provided it minimizes its conflicts and the UDC and BCP enter into a cooperation model, may also wrestle five constituencies from the BDP, namely Francistown West, Ngami, Kanye North, Kgalagadi North and Bobonong though the latter is doubtful.
In the result, therefore, the margin between the Opposition and the BDP may remain the same or be increased by one seat in favour of the ruling BDP. If, as feared, the BDP increases the number of Specially Elected MPs and/or increases the number of constituencies by splitting its stronghold constituencies the margin may even be wider in favour of the BDP.
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”!