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“Evil Zu” is No More

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

Kumarbi’s era comes to an end as Jehovah’s son puts him to the sword

In the Sumerian chronicles, Kumarbi overwhelmingly comes across as the very personification of the Devil. He is dubbed “The Evil Zu”. That need not surprise in view of the fact that history is written by the winners and whatever slant the winners take, the reader basically runs with.

The fact of the matter is that Kumarbi was not as black as he is painted. He ruled Earth for 36,000 years (that is, 10 Nibiru years, called shars) without provoking the merest insurrection against him. And whilst he ruled, he did not unduly impose himself on Enlil and Enki. Enlil still retained his title and responsibilities as Earth’s Chief Executive. Gold production, that was acutely needed to mend Nibiru’s waning atmosphere, was not disrupted.      

Although Kumarbi had declared Earth independent of the Sirian-Orion Empire, he was still intent at maintaining good diplomatic relations with King Anu. That’s why when he captured the Ari mothership, he did not blow away Anu’s celestial boat which he could easily have done with the fabulous firepower of the Ari: he simply scared him with close-shave projectiles.  

And since Kumarbi was cooperative with the strategic imperatives of  the Sirian-Orion monarch, King Anu refrained from engaging him  in sustained hostilities, which would have led to the destruction of  Earth. Earth had to be preserved at all costs given that the Galactic Federation of the Worlds, the Milky Way Galaxy’s equivalent of the United Nations, had declared it a Living Genetic Library and was therefore the galaxy’s most precious planet. Moreover,  if Earth was to be destroyed in a cosmic war, that would spell disaster for Nibiru, which desperately needed a mineral that was only obtainable from Earth.

By seceding from the Sirian-Orion Empire, Kumarbi had forfeited his position as heir to the Sirian-Orion throne and Enlil was automatically reinstated. Yet it was just as well. Kumarbi had always been aware in his heart of hearts that his position as Cup-Bearer to the Sirian-Orion monarch was pure make-believe: it was all a ruse meant to rid him of the nagging temptation to lead a revolt against the Sirian-Orion overlords.  When he seized power on the occasion of Anu’s first visit to Earth, it was because he had read through this lullaby.

But although Kumarbi undertook to co-operate with King Anu, he was not yet done as far as his designs for the full spectrum of power were concerned. His aim was to annex Nibiru as well considering that whoever ruled Nibiru was effectively the ruler of the Solar System. Kumarbi’s desire was that the Solar System be wholly independent of the Sirian-Orion Empire. With the Ari under his control, Kumarbi now exercised a lot of sway even on Nibiru itself.  Anybody who wielded power over the Ari was to all intents and purposes omnipotent in that it was capable of destroying an entire planet just with one particle beam blast.

In his quest to attain to his goal of taking over the entire Solar System, Kumarbi had one great stumbling block though.  This was Enlil, the future god of the Jews today best-known as Jehovah/Yahweh.  

KUMARBI SNATCHES CRITICAL SPACE NAVIGATION INSTRUMENTS

In order to possess full power over Earth in particular, it was not enough to have control over the Ari or to be King. One had to have control over what was termed the Tablets of Destinies. These were devices that tracked and controlled planetary orbits and trajectories of spaceships. The loosest comparison we have here on Earth today is Mission Control Centre at Nasa, whose sophisticated equipment guides spaceships such as Apollo 11 and space probes such as the Mars Rover. The Tablets of  Destinies, however, were much more powerful in that they could alter the course of a heavenly body such as an asteroid for instance so as to prevent it from colliding  into Earth or direct it right at the planet out of  sinister motives.  Even a drifting mini-world such as the Ari could be influenced by the Tablets of Destinies.

On Earth, the person who controlled the Tablets of  Destinies was Enlil. When Kumarbi became  King of  Earth and asked  for the vital tablets, Enlil had refused to part with them and there was nothing Kumarbi could  do since only Enlil knew the tablets’ secret codes. In fact, Enlil didn’t allow Kumarbi to come anywhere near his headquarters in the Edin. Enlil resented Kumarbi just as Kumarbi had resented Anu. As far as Enlil was concerned, Kumarbi would only have the tablets over his dead body.

Then an opportunity arose. The Igigi, who were stationed in orbit around Earth, came up with a litany of grievances. Key among their gripes was that  relief cadres from the mother planet literally took ages to arrive; the rotation  system was just too glacially slow. The Igigi were also loath to the fact that every time  they landed on Earth to pick up the gold, they were never allowed a smidgeon of a moment to explore the beautiful and scenic Earth.  They wanted a rest and recreational facility where they could occasionally vacation and recharge their metabolic batteries.      

Kumarbi, who was also known as AN-ZU (“Supreme Master of Aerospace”, as he personally supervised the space-based Igigi), first approached Enki (who was an in-law uncle of  his having   married  Alalu’s daughter) to propose two things. The first one was a familiarisation tour of  both the Abzu and Eridu. The second was a rapprochement meeting with Enki and Enlil. At first, Enlil was dead set against meeting Kumarbi in view of the manner he had become King of Earth but Enki finally persuaded him. “Let Anzu of the workings gain understanding,” Enki said to Enlil as per his records in The Book of Enki. “I will the Abzu to him show, you the Bond-Heaven-Earth  reveal.”

Kumarbi to Earth with 50 other like-minded Igigi. This top-heavy entourage should have raised eyebrows but Enlil and Enki were completely blindfolded. To assuage the Igigi, Enlil had already laid on a treat for them: they were to stay at a resort near his summer home in the Cedar Mountains in modern-day Lebanon. Meanwhile, Kumarbi  was to be accorded a tour of the Abzu  mines and thereafter be the guest of  Enlil at EKUR,  his mansion at Nippur, his cult seat in the Edin,  whilst Enki was chilling out at his Eridu retreat.   There, at Ekur, Enlil went out of his way to make Kumarbi  feel special, admitting him   into the DIRGA room, the Ekur’s “Holy of Holies” where the Tablets of Destinies were kept.

“Enlil Anzu to Nibruki (Nippur) invited, to the hallowed dark chamber he let him enter,” Enki relates. “In the innermost sanctuary the Tablets of Destinies to Anzu he explained. What the Anunnaki in the five cities were doing to Anzu was shown.” As for a discussion of the Igigi grievances, Enlil said these would be addressed in the next few days when Enki joined them from Eridu. Meanwhile, Kumarbi and Enlil  would take turns to man the Dirga.    Enlil clearly was intent on getting Kumarbi to feel he was unambiguously top dog: he even gave him access to his heavily armed, armour-plated sky chamber.  Sadly, Kumarbi’s mind was already made.

One day, when Enlil was taking his routine mid-day swim, Kumarbi seized the Tablets of  Destinies, dashed into  Enlil’s sky chamber that was parked on the premises and at gunpoint commandeered pilot Abgal to fly  him to the Landing Place in the Cedar Mountains. There,  a hysterically  euphoric Igigi feted him as “King of Earth and Mars”. It was so goddamn easy. Meanwhile, the aftermath of the steal was instantaneous. “In the sanctuary of Nibruki, the brilliance petered out, the humming quieted down,” writes Enki. “Silence in the place prevailed, suspended were the sacred formulas. In space the Igigi were confounded. In Nibruki Enlil was speechless; by the treachery he was overwhelmed.”

The first thing a habitually impetuous Enlil  did was to reach Enki and angrily howl at him  for this disaster, as it was he who broached the idea of Kumarbi’s  familiarisation tour of  the Dirga. The cool-headed Enki said it was no use crying over spilt milk: what was needed now was to find a means to tame Kumarbi and retrieve the Tablets of Destinies.  
 
NINURTA SQUARES UP AGAINST KUMARBI

Enlil and Enki consulted with King Anu on Nibiru as to the next course of action and Anu ordered  that the Tablets be repossessed at any cost, which entailed ousting Kumarbi as King of Earth even if that meant disrupting gold production that was so critically needed for the repair of Nibiru’s dissipating  atmosphere. But whatever war it was, it had to be conducted civilly so that no lasting destruction was inflicted to the planet. The preservation of the planet was in the interests of Kumarbi as well.

An emergency meeting of the Anunnaki top   brass was called by Enlil,  at which a viable strategy was to be hammered out. But if Kumarbi was to be militarily taken  on, who would be the lead belligerent? Note that this was not a full-scale war in the offing: at the time, the Anunnaki had a strictly enforceable  code whereby  they were not to war against and annihilate each other. They came to Earth to extract gold and not to blow each other to bits. So in order not to make this a war of Anunnaki versus Igigi, it was decided that one of  the pantheon was  going to face off  with Kumarbi in an aerial slugfest. If he perished in the  confrontation, another would step into the fray till victory was won.

It was the quick-witted Enki who proposed Ninurta, Enlil’s firstborn and heir. Ninurta was the perfect choice, being a Nibiru-trained fighter pilot. The Sumerian records describe him as “the heroic son of Enlil who launched bolts of lightning, a mighty hunter renowned for his martial abilities”. Enlil, however, was quizzical of Enki’s outright propositioning of Ninurta, as though he intended mortal harm to come Ninurta’s way and therefore pave the way for the probable rise to supremacy of his own son Marduk. But Enki’s position was seconded by Ninurta’s own mother Ninmah. In any case, Ninurta himself was just too happy to take the gauntlet. It was game, set and match: the young prince was raring to go.  But Ninurta set a condition for his being thrust into the possibly deadly enterprise that we shall dwell on next time around  and which condition the pantheon assented to.   

Ninurta and Kumarbi did battle over the Cedar Mountains, where they fought day and night.  Now, Ninurta faced something of a Sisyphusian challenge. With his fingers on the almost magical Tablets of Destinies, Kumarbi  was not only theoretically invincible but was also virtually invisible. “The Tablets are my protection, invincible I am,” he boasted to Ninurta by radio, a vain boast really since it could take him ages to crack the codes, which only Enlil knew. Moreover,  the fantastically sophisticated weapons  that were installed in the sky chamber that he had snatched from Enlil were capable of pulverising anything.  Hence Ninurta drew a blank: all the firepower that he unleashed at Kumarbi, the “lightning bolts”,  bounced back. Frustrated and alarmed, Ninurta sent word to his father through his younger brother Ishkur/Adad asking for further warring tips.

Enlil responded by reinforcing him with a new weapon called a TILLUM  missile, but exactly how to use it to full efficacy was advised by the  all-knowing  Enki. Enki said: “With your Whirlwind (fighter craft) stir up a storm. Let the dust cover Anzu’s face, let it the wings of the sky bird ruffle … Shoot the Tillum into the pinions or small cogwheels of  Zu’s wings”. It worked like a charm. Kumarbi’s  craft tumbled horrendously to the ground though he and hostage pilot Abgal parachuted to safety. Kumarbi was arrested, the Tablets of Destinies were recovered and immediately reinstalled in the Dirga, and everything sprang to life again. Ninurta was the hero of the moment both on Earth and Nibiru.

DEATH SENTENCE FOR KUMARBI

Kumarbi was arraigned and tried before a 7-man court-martial comprising of  Enlil, Enki, Enlil’s wife  Ninlil, Enki’s wife Ninki, Enlil’s son Nannar/Sin, Enki’s son Marduk, and Enki/Enlil’s half-sister Ninmah.  Ninurta prosecuted the case and prayed for the  death sentence. Enki recorded  the deliberations as follows as relayed to us by his master scribe Endubasar:

“The Igigi by right were complaining, a rest place on Earth they do need, Marduk in counter argued. By his evil deed all the Anunnaki and Igigi did endanger, Enlil said. Enki and Ninmah with Enlil

In a landslide 6-1 decision (Marduk voted against the decision), Kumarbi  was sentenced to death. The mode of  execution was decapitation but it was not as gruesome as legend depicts it: the executor, Ninurta, employed a “death ray”, which sliced through Kumarbi’s  neck with laser precision.

The Kumarbi revolt and execution was the beginning of the legend of the “Evil Zu”, who became a type of  the Devil. When pulpit men in Christian churches preach about the “Devil rebelling against God” because he wanted to be like “The Most High,” scarcely do they realise that they are alluding to the Kumarbi saga. You see, there are too many God-types and too many Devil-types in the Bible and all these are none other than elements of the Anunnaki!

Meanwhile, Alalu was remanded in custody by way of  a house arrest for conspiring alongside his grandson to seize power over Earth 8 shars ago. He  too was to be tried but this time around, Anu was  to join the bench as he was on his way to Earth to savour the defeat and death of Kumarbi.         

Anu’s involvement in the trial perturbed Enlil. He was aware that Anu was a naturally charitable being and chances were he would influence the bench to excuse Alalu, which to a naturally austere Enlil  was anathema. In order to hedge his bets, Enlil ordered that a slow-acting poison be cleverly administered  to Alalu  (Endubasar, the Earthling  scribe who penned Enki’s autobiography, put a rather unseemly slant on the incident).  Enlil, like the stern disciplinarian he was, believed in an eye for an eye and indeed when we flip through the pages of the Old Testament, we come across countless incidents in which Jehovah meted out instant, deathly justice to people who defied or transgressed against him: in some cases the prophets had to plead with him to stay his iron hand.

NEXT WEEK: THE FATE OF ALALU

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Let’s Get BPO Industry Out of its Present Limbo

26th October 2020
Majakathata “Jax” Pheko

At an economically tumultuous juncture of our country’s history as we presently are, where unemployment has become something of a Gordian Knot conundrum, a promisingly ameliorational pursuit known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is well worth exploring as a salvavic option.

One pundit defines BPO as “a subset of outsourcing that involves contracting the operations and responsibilities for a particular business process to a third-party service provider.” Examples of BPO services, which invariably do not constitute a company’s core or primary mission, include inbound and outbound call centres, live chat, bookkeeping, web development, research marketing, accounting and finance, and after-hours call answering services. BPO is driven, fundamentally, by the imperative of cost-cutting and overrides national boundaries through the employment and deployment of technologies that make human and data communications easier, thus lending credence to the concept of the global village that is today’s world.

BPO had been in existence in its primordial form since as early as the 19th century but it was not until the 1980s that its latter-day incarnation loomed larger and the term outsourcing became part of daily business parlance. Today, every continent is into BPO, including the economic Dark Horse called Africa. The Global IT-BPO Outsourcing Deals Analysis segments BPO buyer regions into three categories. These are North and South America (42 percent); Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (35 percent); and Asia and Oceania 23 percent.

In a Third World country such as Botswana, overseas-oriented BPO is key to bringing in those paramount hard currencies besides engendering a radical turnaround in the all too dingy joblessness picture. But are we up to it folks? Have we gotten aboard the bandwagon or we are virtual spectators watching nonchalantly as the BPO locomotive streaks away at breakneck speed?

JAX’S FLASH-IN-THE-PAN SUCCESS

The extent to which BPO has taken root in Botswana is not apparent. The first time I heard of it was in August 2007, when the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA), then going by the name Botswana Training Authority (BOTA), put it on record at a one-day IFSC-organised conference that they were in the process of developing standards for the nascent BPO industry in Botswana whilst they benchmarked with Mauritius, the UK, and South Africa. Little, if anything at all, has been heard of their progress since.

In February 2018, The Botswana Guardian reported of the newly-established Direct BPO, a fully-owned subsidiary of Mascom, which was looking to employing 400 people at the very outset. Once again, details as to how Direct BPO, whose establishment coincided with Mascom’s 20-year anniversary, has fared to date remain sketchy.

Perhaps the most spectacular case of a BPO operation in Botswana was that of Oseg, a company begun by Majakathata Pheko, affectionately known as Jax, in 2003 under the Debtsolve franchise umbrella. Oseg, which comprised of three divisions, offered customer management and financial services solutions and operated out of Gaborone and Windhoek in Namibia, where it touted MTN as its principal client. Oseg did receivable management for local financial blue chips such as Barclays Bank, FNB, Bayport, MVA, Botswana Insurance Company, Letshego, and Standard Chartered, and in due course CEDA and Mascom. It also served the Australian offshore market. Its account receivable division was the biggest in Botswana, handling over 60,000 accounts and managing a portfolio of over P400 million.

At its height, Oseg employed 150 people and had spent over P15 million on cutting edge technology and manpower training. In 2007, Oseg was nominated for Best Non-European Contact Centre at the CCF Awards held that year in Birmingham, UK, the “Oscars of the industry”.

Then in 2016, the sky seemed to have fallen. Oseg found itself saddled with an odious P4.4 million debt, with its staff resultantly trimmed to just under 50. According to media reports, Jax pointed to his own bankrollers and their partners in the alleged crime as his rather devious saboteurs. “I have evidence that powerful people in the bank and a cabal of friends both inside and outside the bank were intentionally and aggressively looking for ways to weaken Oseg, tarnish its name and diminish its value as they were in the same competing business interests, in the call centre and the factoring business,” the then youthful entrepreneur, who was only 41 at the time, bemoaned.

Jax reported the matter to NBFIRA and what came of that, not to mention the continued viability of his business, I have not been able to establish. I just hope and trust that Jax personally weathered the tempest as I have it on good authority that he is doing fairly well.

BOTSWANA MISSING OUT ON DOLLAR-DENOMINATED BILLIONS

For emerging economies, and even peripheral Third World countries, the BPO business can be something of a gold mine. According to the latest McKinsey report, the global BPO industry is valued at $163 billon and is expected to grow at $183 billion by the year 2023.

In the Philippines, BPO, which began with a call centre setup way back in 1992, accounts for 11 percent of GDP, the single biggest contributor to the nation’s economic activity. It employs 1.3 million people in over 700 outsourcing companies. One company, called Teleperformance, alone employs 47,000 people in 21 sites. In 2019, the BPO sector generated revenues of the order of $26.3 billion.

In India, the BPO sector, now 30 years old, provides direct employment to 2 million people and indirect employment to 8 million. In 2019, the BPO income overall amounted to $8.6 billon.  In Mauritius, the ICT/BPO sector contributed 6 percent to GDP in 2019, representing a key driver of the Mauritian economy. The BPO sector is responsible for 53 percent of the 27,000 people employed in the ICT/BPO superstructure in 850 companies.

According to the Economic Development Board of Mauritius, leading multinationals such as Accenture, Huawei, Aspen Pharmacare and Allianz have back office operations in Mauritius. In addition, a number of international payroll companies currently use Mauritius as a service delivery centre.

Kenya is also looking to position itself as a hub for global digital BPO, notably through government promotion schemes such as Ajira. According to the ITC Authority of Kenya, the market size for online work was estimated to be $4.8 billion in 2016 and was projected to generate $15 billon by 2020. With only 7000 people employed in the BPO industry in the country, we are talking about a modest figure though it is still brisk compared to the rather lugubrious situation in Botswana. Clearly, there are billions in US dollar terms to be had in BPO and we are missing out on these big time.

MZANZI LEAVES BW IN THE DUST

Yet it is Big Brother next door from whom we have precious much to glean as he is our immediate competitor potentially in the BPO race. Remember, if our IFSC continues to flounder to date, it is largely on account of the fact that in Mzansi, we have a formidable rival right on our doorstep.

As we speak, the South African BPO sector is valued at $461 million going by the invariably authoritative McKinsey survey. It employs 270,000 people in six cities, a figure projected to more than double to 775,000 by 2030. Of the current total staff base, 65,000 serve international clients. That South Africa has made such enormous strides in the BPO arena is meritoriously earned and not simply fortuitous. It has been voted the second most attractive BPO location in the world for three years on the trot.

The South African BPO sector is tipped to grow by 3 percent per annum over the next three years, a rate which is in line with the trends in the global BPO space. There are currently over 100 local and international BPO providers operating in South Africa, with local players in the main serving large multinational customers. The industry’s key offshore business clientele is domiciled in English-speaking countries, notably the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, with 61 percent coming from the United Kingdom, 18 percent from the United States and Canada, and 11 percent from Australia.

In June this year, the $1.5 trillion-strong Amazon announced that it would be signing up a total of 3000 South Africans to help cater to its customers in North America and Europe, which is testament to the fact that the country’s BPO market continues to make waves in the Western world. If Jeff Bizos is impressed, you can count on the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg to follow suit too sooner rather than later.

A FORGONE OPPORTUNITY TO TURBO-CHARGE THE BPO INDUSTRY IN BOTSWANA

Empowerment Africa is an organisation that boasts a business network that enables established and emerging businesses to connect, partner, and create long-term value with Africa-based projects. With reportedly 3000 esteemed contacts, it liaises with governments, major corporations, and investors to facilitate business opportunities, deliver deal flow, and provide research across its network to the Empower Africa business community.

Empowerment Africa recommends seven countries in Africa with thriving outsourcing industries. They are Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, and Madagascar in that order. Botswana is conspicuous by its absence and that must be ample cause for concern to our Monetary Authorities, especially given that at least on paper, we are economically better off than three to four of these countries.

In 2015, Jax approached the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture and propositioned a joint partnership with Oseg in unlocking BPO potential in Botswana by looking at the public sector Debt Collection and Call Centre services for government. Jax reckoned that the total market for Receivables and Revenue collections sitting in Government and Parastatal organisations at the time amounted to over P3.5 billion, equivalent to 8% of the National Budget then. If the BPO sector was to be utilised to assist in collecting this debt, over 2700 jobs would be created.

Furthermore, considering that a typical government employee spent half the time attending to inquiries from members of the public, the exercise would result in improved efficiency delivery in government departments in addition to boosting government’s liquidity position.

This is what Jax said in a 50th independence anniversary publication in 2016 on the same subject. “Our estimations are that once all the collections work is outsourced, there is a potential to collect more than P100 million every month for the Government of Botswana.

The opportunity to create more than 2700 exists, which will help to mop out unemployed graduates and upskill them. The economic impact of 2700 jobs would support more than 15,000 people in the economy and also help to create jobs in other industries that support the BPO sector, and will stimulate the whole ICT sector. Over and above that, the outsourcing would stimulate the whole IT sector and help improve Botswana’s position as an ICT and Call Centre hub.”

Once again, I am not privy to what came of this proposition, but I am persuaded that had government acceded to it, the BPO business in the country would have quantum-leaped and we would today be waltzing on the proverbial Cloud 9 in terms of revenues generated. Even the road retarder Oseg encountered with its bankers would not have been a factor at all. As significant, we would in all probability have made it on Empowerment Africa’s short list for the continent’s pre-eminent BPO addresses.

THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF GOVERNMENT IN BOOSTING BPO FORTUNES

Granted, with the advent of the still latent E-Governance, the synergic potential with the Call Centre business is stupendous. As per Jax’s pitch to those who care to hear, “The outsourcing of the E-Governance and collections will greatly improve efficiency in service delivery in the government departments. Directing traffic and enquiries to a Call Centre would empower the BPO sector in such a way that would be able to help the public from all over the country from one central point 24 hours and 7 days week.

The Call Centres would also relieve Government of the pressure to develop brick and mortar representations/offices across the country. This would help to save billions of Pula as the public will be able to access the services from the comfort of their homes and villages. The Call Centre service would bridge the urban and rural division as everyone will now be able to access Government services and receive the same service.”

The real jackpot both to government and the broader citizenry, however, resides in the offshore market. With sales cycles in the BPO business taking up to 12 months, contracts typically run from five to seven years, which is sustained lucrativeness by any measure. It is in the direction of the overseas market that much of our energy should be focused, though wary that we do not recklessly neglect the domestic market, if we are to reinvigorate the BPO industry and get meaningful returns out of it.

Developed countries are all the more keen to outsource as one way to insulate their economies against severe hurt inflicted by globalwide economic tremors. For instance, it was thanks to offshore outsourcing that Australia so ably navigated the 2008 economic crisis. That year, IBM released a BPO report showing that 80% of Australian companies were willing to outsource from offshore companies to save 50% in expenses.

Here in Botswana, I would recommend that government be in the BPO vanguard by splashing on a whole host of catalytic factors. In South Africa, for instance, the Department of Industry, Trade and Competition devoted R1.3 billion between 2007 and 2018 to bolstering the BPO industry in one way or the other and committed a further R1.2 billion in 2019 alone, gestures which no doubt underlie the solid performance of the industry.

Even when the lockdowns were in progress, the industry was accorded essential services status so that it kept the momentum going. As if not to be outdone, the South African BPO industry body, Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA), has commendably done its part in aiding the growth of the industry by supporting skills development, sharing best practice, and providing its members with access to other business networks and associations that drive and influence the sector’s transition into the digital economy. In Mauritius, the Prime Minister himself, and not a man of lesser stature, directly oversees the BPO sector.

For Botswana to make a mark in the BPO arena, it has to build a reputation as a reliable, cost-effective, and high-quality destination for outsourced business services, attributes all of which South Africa excels in. In addition, South African BPO players provide higher-quality services owing to strength across five key areas: availability of skills, infrastructure, risk profile, business environment, and industry size. In Botswana, we will need to nurture some of these strengths with the instrumentality of government.

With the advent of COVID-19, it is of essence that traditional BPO providers build capabilities to enable rapid deployment and ramp-up of fully functional teams under crisis scenarios. Operational resilience, that is, the ability to pivot when an ordinarily disruptive set of circumstances hits, is key. South Africa demonstrated this capacity most eloquently when 90 percent of the workforce was able to switch to remote work in residential settings, when 50 percent of operations in key competing locations such as the Philippines and India came to a virtual standstill.

Lastly but by no means the least, a competitive currency is a reasonably efficacious undercutting strategy. In recent months, the South African Rand has significantly weakened against the US dollar, in which the cost of outsourcing is typically denominated, and this has enabled South African BPOs to compete more effectively with Asian offerings.

It concerns me that last year, the Pula appreciated by 1.6 percent against the SDR (Special Drawing Right), which is a compound of five currencies, namely the US dollar, the British Pound, the Euro, the Japanese Yen, and the Chinese Yuan. If that relatively ripped Pula trajectory persists, it will not help our BPO competitiveness at all Rre Moses Pelaelo.

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Cyrus Frees the Jews

26th October 2020
In 538 BC, Cyrus, ruler of the Persian Empire

Mighty Persian King ends Babylonian exile after 60 years

For all his euphoria and grandiose preparations for Nibiru King Anu’s prospective visit to Earth, General Atiku, Nebuchadnezzar didn’t live to savour this potentially highly momentous occasion. In fact, none of his next three bloodline successors were destined to witness up-close the return of the Planet of the Gods, as Nibiru was referred to in Sumerian and Egyptian chronicles.

Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC, having ruled for 43 years, missing Nibiru, which showed up circa 550 BC as we set down in The Earth Chronicles series, by a whisker. During the next 6 years, he had three successors in such an unconscionably short period of time. His immediate one was Merodach, his eldest son.

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Understanding Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework: Litigation

26th October 2020

In Botswana, the Trade Disputes Act, 2016 (“the Act”) provides the framework within which trade disputes are resolved. This framework hinges on four legs, namely mediation, arbitration, industrial action and litigation. In this four-part series, we discuss this framework.

In last week’s article, we discussed the third leg of Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework-industrial action. In this article, we discuss the fourth leg, namely litigation at the Industrial Court. The Act does not define the term litigation. Litigation is generally understood to mean a situation where parties to a trade dispute take their dispute to a court, in this case the Industrial Court, for determination by a judge.

Just like an arbitrator, a judge’s decision is binding on the parties though they can, of course, appeal it. However, while an arbitrator must be acceptable to both parties, a judge does not have to be acceptable to the parties. A party can, however, apply for the judges’ recusal from the case for such reasons as reasonable apprehension of bias.

Before discussing litigation at the Industrial Court, it is apposite that a brief background of the origins and evolution of the Industrial Court be given. The original Trade Disputes Act (No. 19/1982) provided for disputes to be adjudicated, inter alia, by a Permanent Arbitrator. This is confirmed in Veronica Moroka & 2 Others v The Attorney General and Another, Court of Appeal Civil Appeal No. CACGB-121-17 at para 11.

The Industrial Court replaced the institution of the Permanent Arbitrator (Dingake Collective Labour Law in Botswana 23) following the enactment of the Trade Disputes Act (No. 23/1997) which, as confirmed in the Veronica Moroka case supra, came into force on 9 October 1997.

As per Kirby JP, in the Veronica Moroka case supra, the Industrial Court’s status “as a court was uncertain and no provision was made for it to be served by a Registrar, with the usual powers and duties of such office”.

The Court of Appeal, in Botswana Railways Organization v Setsogo and Others, 1996 BLR 763 CA, remedied this defect. It held that the Industrial Court was not a mere statutory tribunal, but was, in line with Section 127(1) of the Constitution of Botswana, a subordinate court, having limited jurisdiction.

Following the change of the definition of subordinate court by Act 2/2002 to exclude the Industrial Court, along with the Court of Appeal, the High Court and a court martial, the Industrial Court became a superior court, albeit still with limited jurisdiction unlike the High Court, for instance, which has inherent unlimited jurisdiction.

Consequently, appeals from the Industrial Court were referred to the Court of Appeal. Perhaps most significantly, according to Veronica Moroka, Industrial Court judges were now, just like High Court judges, protected by, inter alia, security of tenure.

The Trade Disputes Act was further amended and replaced by the Trade Disputes Act, 2003 which commenced on 6 April 2004 as Act No. 15 of 2004. Section 16(8) of this Act provided for the appointment of the Registrar and an Assistant Registrar, but still had no section clothing them with specific powers.

It, through section 20(3), also bestowed, in the Court, the power to hear urgent applications and, in terms of section 18(1), the power to grant interdicts, thereby remedying the defects identified in Botswana Railways Organization v Setsogo & Others supra, but it still had no provision dealing with writs of execution and sales flowing therefrom.

In terms of section 18(1) of the Act, the Industrial Court’s jurisdiction includes the power to hear and determine all trade disputes except disputes of interest as well as, in terms of section 20(1) (b) of the Act, the power to interdict any unlawful industrial action and to grant general interdicts, declaratory orders or interim orders.

In terms of section 20(1) (c) of the Act, the Industrial Court is also clothed with the power to hear appeals and reviews of the decisions of mediators and arbitrators respectively. It, in terms of section 20(1) (d) of the Act, has the power to direct the Commissioner to assign a mediator to mediate a dispute if it is of the opinion that the matter has not been properly mediated or requires further mediation.

In terms of section 20(1) (e) of the Act, the Industrial Court also has the power to direct the Commissioner to refer a dispute that is before the Court for arbitration. In terms of section 20(1) (f) of the Act, it has the power to refer any matter to an expert and, at the Court’s discretion, to accept the expert’s report as evidence in the proceedings.

The Industrial Court also has the power to give such directions to parties to a trade dispute provided the object of such directions is the expedient and just hearing and determination or disposal of any dispute before it.

In terms of section 20(2) of the Act, any matter of law and any question as to whether a matter for determination is a matter of law or a matter of fact is decided by the presiding judge. In terms of section 20(3) of the Act, with respect to all issues other than those referred to under section 20 (2), the decision of the majority of the Court prevails.

Where there is no majority decision under section 20 (3), the decision of the judge prevails. In terms of section 24(2) of the Act, any interested party in any proceedings under the Act may appear by legal representation or may be represented by any other person so authorised by that party.

In terms of section 28(2) of the Act, a decision of the Industrial Court has the same force and effect as a decision of the High Court, and because, unlike South Africa, Botswana has no Labour Appeal Court, decisions of the Industrial Court, just like those of the High Court, are, in terms of section 20(5) of the Act, appealable to the highest court in the land, that is, the Court of Appeal.

The Trade Disputes Act went through another amendment in 2016. Section 14 of the Act ensures the continuation of the Industrial Court. It outlines its functions as the settlement of trade disputes as well as the securing and maintenance of good industrial relations in Botswana.

In terms of section 15(1) of the Act, the judges of the Industrial Court are appointed by the state President from among persons possessing the qualifications to be judges of the High Court as prescribed under section 96 of the Constitution.

In terms of section 15(2) of the Act, these judges are headed by the President of the Industrial Court designated by the state President from among the judges.

In terms of section 15(4) of the Act, a judge of the Industrial Court who is not a citizen of Botswana or who is not appointed on permanent and pensionable terms may be appointed on contract basis and is eligible for reappointment.

In terms of section 15(5) of the Act, Judges of the Industrial Court sit with two nominated members, one of whom is selected by the judge from among persons nominated by the organisation representing employees or trade unions in Botswana and the other selected by the judge from among persons nominated by the organisation representing employers in Botswana.

In terms of section 15(6) of the Act, where, for any reason, the nominated members are or either of them is absent for any part of the hearing of a trade dispute, the jurisdiction of the court may be exercised by the judge alone or with the remaining member of the Court, whichever the case may be, unless the judge, for good reason, decides that the hearing should be postponed.

In terms of section 18(1) of the Act, An Industrial Court judge vacates office on attaining the age of 70 years, provided that the state President may permit him or her to continue in office for such period as may be necessary to enable him or her to deliver judgment or to do any other thing in relation to proceedings that had commenced before him or her.

In terms of section 18(2) of the Act, in accordance with the provisions of the proviso to section 96(6) of the Constitution, a person appointed to act as an Industrial Court judge vacates that office on attaining the age of 75 years.

In terms of section 19(1) (a) and (b) of the Act, an Industrial Court judge may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind, or from any other cause or for serious misconduct.

In terms of section 19(2) of the Act, the power to remove an Industrial Court judge from office vests in the state President acting in accordance with the procedure provided under section 97 of the Constitution for the removal of High Court judges.

*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or  anmorima@gmail.com

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