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Khama is wrong; Botswana has a lot to learn from the British!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Botswana’s president, His Excellency Leitenenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama was recently quoted in The Patriot on Sunday newspaper’s online edition of 27th June 2016 as having said Botswana has nothing to learn from the British.  

According to the report, “… President Khama attacked the British on the outcome of the recent referendum where they voted to pull out of the European Union (EU).” He is reported to have said “…what is shocking is that some cabinet ministers decided to vote with the Opposition on the referendum instead of pushing the agenda of the Prime Minister.”

In this article, I argue that contrary to President Khama’s view Botswana has a lot to learn from the British, especially in the areas of respect for the will of the people, separation of powers, good governance and democracy generally.

Firstly, the British know that in a democratic state the will of the people has to be given effect. It is commendable for the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to have taken the issue of membership of the EU to the voters after it became clear that a significant number of people were calling for it. He did this despite the risk to his political career.

It is even more commendable for David Cameron to have immediately accepted the results of the referendum despite the marginal majority of two percent, stating that he is not even considering a second referendum since the British people have spoken and their will should be given effect.

It is regrettable for President Khama to admonish the British for expressing their will through a democratic process. Does President Khama want to tell us that he knows what is best for the British people? Can he be right and fifty two percent of the British be wrong?

In a democracy, the will of the people should be respected however unpleasant or inconvenient it may be. Anyone who questions it is a threat to democracy since it shows that if he or she had the means he or she would overturn it.

In this our country, Botswana, seemingly incompetent people, even in President Khama’s BDP, have been and continue to be elected to Councils and Parliament and their election is respected because it expresses the people’s will. Challenging it would be tantamount to dictatorship.  

In Botswana, many people have called for such reforms as political party funding; abolition of Specially Elected Members of Parliament and Specially Nominated Councillors; using the hybrid of Proportional Representation (PR) and the current First Past the Post (FPTP) or the Single Member Plurality System (SMPS), e.t.c.

Many have also called for the independence of such institutions as Parliament, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Ombudsman; introduction of direct presidential elections; and decentralization of power to Local Authorities.

Despite these calls government refused to consider them or at least subject them to a referendum. In so doing, government defied the very essence of democracy, i.e. ‘government by the people and for the people’. On the contrary, the British government, in holding the EU referendum, not only lived this principle but also exalted the sovereignty of the voters.

With respect to the issue of Specially Elected Members of Parliament, for example, government seems to be poised to increase them from four to six without even seeking the people’s mandate through a referendum. Consulting such institutions as Ntlo ya Dikgosi is clearly not enough.
This is despite the fact that several Batswana have complained that the dispensation does not serve any purpose other than increasing the BDP’s majority in Parliament. Contrary to government’s claims, people with disabilities, those from minority groups and tribes, women and youth have not benefited from the dispensation. No person with disability, Mosarwa, Moyeyi or Mumbukushu, for example, has been elected as Specially Elected Member of Parliament since independence.   

What is even more lamentable is that despite the fact that there are many useful reforms that many Batswana have yearned for, the BDP government has not implemented any of them. It is rather increasing Specially Elected Members of Parliament, obviously to increase its Parliamentary majority especially for 2019 when its majority may be at risk.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP)’s Deputy President, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, is right in asserting that Specially Elected Members of Parliament and Specially Nominated Councillors  have been “… used by the ruling BDP to neutralise or reverse the mandate given to the opposition parties by the voters.” 

He also assets, in the Weekend Post’s online edition of 27th June 2016, that “… most of the specially elected MPs are individuals who have lost elections against a member of the opposition. Out of the four specially elected MPs three had lost elections in 2014. Since independence all specially elected MPs were members of the ruling BDP. Currently 119 specially elected councillors are from the BDP while less than five (5) are from the opposition parties.”

After the 2014 general elections, for example, Honorables Dr. Unity Dow, Kitso Mokaila and Eric Molale, who had all lost elections, were not only elected as Specially Elected Members of Parliament, but were also appointed as cabinet ministers.    
The last time the ruling BDP government made meaningful democratic reforms was in 1995 when it, following its 1995 Sebele Extra-Ordinary Congress, introduced the two-term presidential term limit; reduced the voting age from 21 years to 18 years; introduced external balloting and established the IEC.

What is incontrovertible is that in enacting the aforesaid constitutional reforms after years of refusing them the BDP government’s intention was not to give effect to the people’s will per se,  but to avert defeat at the next general elections.

Secondly, considering the significance of the issue, at the commencement of the campaigns leading to the EU referendum, the British government lifted the doctrine of collective responsibility that ordinarily obliges members of the Executive, for example, to be bound by the decision of the collective.

This allowed members of the Executive to express their views on this momentous issue. Denying them this right and allowing only the Prime Minister’s views to be heared would have been undemocratic since other views, potentially beneficial to the people, would have been unduly suppressed.

Contrary to President Khama’s views the EU referendum vote was not about the Opposition and the ruling party. It was about the British people as a whole. It transcended political party divisions. No wonder the opposition Labour Party supported the ruling Conservative Party in voting against the secession from the EU.

I could not help but marvel at the beauty of democracy when members of the political parties, including cabinet ministers spoke freely about their position on the issue. These people were neither victimized nor dismissed from their respective political parties or positions. Their views were respected. This is real democracy which gives effect to the Setswana proverb ‘Mmualebe o bua la gagwe…”

If President Khama thinks that the EU referendum vote was about pushing the agenda of the Prime Minister he is wrong. The vote was about pushing the agenda of the British people not an individual’s agenda. It was about the British not David Cameron; it was about the British not the British Labour Party or the British Conservative Party.

Thirdly, after losing the EU referendum vote, David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister. He resigned because he knows that in a democracy if a leader fails to get the support of the majority in such a decisive issue it shows that the people have lost confidence in him. This, we should certainly learn from the British or David Cameron.

In Botswana, as is the case in most African and Latin American countries, a leader refuses to resign even after committing a scandal or being charged with a criminal offence.  They hide behind the saying that ‘everyone is innocent until proven guilty.’

This saying is inarguably true, but it should not apply in situations where a leader’s integrity is in doubt. Leaders’ integrity should be impeccable and beyond reproach and if any circumstance arises that has the potential, not actuality, of tarnishing their integrity or diminishing the people’s confidence in them they should step down, at least until proven innocent.

Therefore, if nothing else, Botswana can learn from the British that the will of the people should always be respected; divergence of views does not necessarily mean lack of patriotism; a democracy is not about following a leader’s path, but about the people’s pursuit of their own interests and dreams and that that when a leader no longer enjoys the confidence of his or her people he or she should resign.

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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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