A legend passes on but is immortalised in stone. Meanwhile, the man who tended him is raised from the dead!
Aseven-man panel, constituted differently from the one that condemned Kumarbi, was convened to try Alalu. It included King Anu who had travelled to Earth to come and toast to the demise of Kumarbi. Other members of the panel were Enlil, Enki, one Anzu, Nungal, Abgal and another guy going by the name Alalgar, all members of the Anunnaki aristocracy.
Anu sat in the middle, flanked by Enlil to his right and Enki to his left. This setup is the original source of the terms left wing (or leftist) and right wing in politics. Left wingers are moderate in their agenda and are ostensibly pro-people (like the Democrats in the US). Right wingers, on the other hand, are extremists and generally self-serving (like the Republicans in the US): they put their self-aggrandisement interests before those of the wider populace though they couch these interests in universal terms.
That was the dichotomy of Enki and Enlil. Enki was soft, kindly and sympathetic, whereas Enlil was hard, strict and unforgiving. Enki wanted to enlighten mankind and bring them on par with the Anunnaki; Enlil wanted us to be forever beneath the Anunnaki and under their yoke. Enki wanted to utilise mankind; all Enlil was interested in was to use mankind. Enlil would rather mankind disappeared from the face of the Earth; Enki wanted us preserved and in addition blossom and flourish. But we’re getting ahead of our story, sorry.
Alalu was brought before the judgement panel, his hands and feet in chains as befitted a prisoner. Anu ordered that he be unbound. Enlil was the first to inquisition him, followed by Enki. Alalu made the case that he was the King of Sirius for “nine counted periods”, that is 9 shars, as the Anunnaki even when they were here on Earth still counted time in Nibiru terms, and that Anu used to be his Cup-Bearer.
“To my seed kingship was belonging. On my throne Anu himself sat, to escape death to distant Earth I made a dangerous journey. Salvation for Nibiru I, Alalu, on the alien planet discovered! … Then to Earth came Enki … Then Enlil, the succession from Anu he himself claiming. Then Anu came, by lots he tricked Ea; Enki, the Lord of Earth, he was proclaimed, of Earth not of Nibiru to be the master. Then to Enlil command was granted, Enki to the distant Abzu was delegated. My heart of all that was aching, my chest from shame and anger was bursting … Anu his foot upon my chest placed, upon my aching heart he was treading!”
The trial took days. When judgement day arrived, the no-nonsense Enlil recommended a death sentence, a pronouncement seconded by Alalgar, Abgal and Ningal. But Enki and Anzu were more level-headed. Enki and Anzu opined that Alalu be slapped a life sentence right here on Earth. It was now left to King Anu to state his piece of mind.
Like Enki, Anu was a naturally compassionate being and slow to anger and basically bore no grudges. He pronounced that Alalu not be condemned to death or incarceration but to exile on yet another planet – LAHMU (Mars). When the vote on Anu’s verdict was done, it was unanimous. And so it was that a sickly (from the poison Enlil had secretly administered to him) and dejected Alalu was loaded onto the same celestial ship that was carrying Anu to the Ari to be dropped off on Mars on the way.
As the spaceship prepared to land on Mars, pilot Anzu dropped a bombshell. “With Alalu to the firm soil of LAHMU I shall descend,” he said to Anu. “With the sky chamber to return I wish not. With Alalu on a strange planet I shall stay. Until he dies I shall protect him. When he dies of his innards’ poison, as befits a King him I shall bury.”
Surprisingly, Anu did not balk at Anzu’s suggestion but was instead deeply touched. “There were tears in the eyes of Alalu,” recalls Enki. “There was amazement in the heart of Anu.”
The ever-gracious, ever-generous Anu pledged a dream reward to Anzu. “Your wish shall be honoured. Hereby let a promise to you be made. By my raised hand to you I swear: on the next journey a chariot by LAHMU shall circuit, its skyship to you shall descend. If alive, it shall find you, the master of LAHMU you shall be proclaimed. When a way station on LAHMU shall be established, its commander you shall be!”
Hence it was that Anzu and Alalu remained on Mars – the only civilisation on the planet – with plentiful food supplies, tools and the requisite survival equipment.
ENKI SETS UP IN ZIMBABWE
Shortly after Anu’s departure back to Nibiru, Enki moved to the Abzu, southern Africa, to establish a new base there as per his new brief as the superintendent of imminent gold mining operations. He characterises his new environs as a land “bursting with riches, perfect in fullness. Many rivers rushed across the region, great waters there rapidly flowed.” His own residence he describes as “an abode by the flowing waters”. It does not require overmuch mental gymnastics to infer, as practically every scholar has, that the region of the Abzu Enki was talking about was modern-day Zimbabwe. The river along whose banks he established his abode was almost certainly the Zambezi.
The ancient city of Great Zimbabwe is preserved in those famed ruins 250 kilometres north of Harare and 500 kilometres south of the Zambezi River. The Great Zimbabwe ruins (actually ruins on top of ruins) are one of the most enigmatic stone structures of antiquity in the world. No one knows exactly when they were built and how they were built. In 1531, a certain Vincent Pegado, a Portuguese army officer, marvelled thus of the construction technology of the Zimbabwe edifice: “Among the gold mines of the inland plains between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers there is a fortress built of stones of marvellous size, and there appears to be no mortar joining them”. It goes without saying that Great Zimbabwe was the Anunnaki’s first settlement on the continent of Africa.
Enki referred to the mining site in the Abzu as “The Place of Deepness”, or simply the Abyss, because there the Heroes (Anunnaki astronauts) descended into “Earth’s bowels” to do the mining. Because of this style, Africa as a whole in due course came to be known as the Lower World or the Underworld, a term that clueless, latter day theologians spun into a byword for “Hell”. Well, to Hell with them!
Gold mining in the Abzu would not be an open-cast affair but a backbreaking, underground enterprise. Like the peerless engineer he was, Enki, having settled down in his new residence on the shores of the Zambezi River, set about designing the appropriate tools. Principal among the machines he designed were the “Earth Splitter”, “That Which Crunches”, and “That Which Crushes”. The blueprints were beamed to Nibiru for manufacture and subsequent delivery to Earth.
Meanwhile, even after having spent over 30,000 years on Earth (about 8 years in Nibiru terms), the Anunnaki were still not fully adjusted to the conditions on the planet. They complained of a number of privations, inadequacies and indispositions. “To the Heroes Earth’s quick circuits (years) were upsetting,” recalls Enki. “Earth’s quick day and night cycles dizziness were causing. The atmosphere, though good, was in some things lacking, in others too abundant. On the sameness of the food the Heroes were complaining.” Notwithstanding the fact that this was in the Ice Age, a basically chilly epoch, the Anunnaki complained of “blisteringly hot weather”. Coming from the almost completely sunless planet that was Nibiru, their distress was understandable.
Enlil, Enki’s step brother and the Bible’s Jehovah, comes across as the most allergic to what was “Earth’s unforgiving weather”. Enki writes that “Enlil, the commander, by the heat of the Sun on Earth was afflicted, for coolness and shade he was longing”. Enlil therefore decided to build himself a home higher up in the snow-covered mountains, where it was frigid but rather suiting for him. He chose a perch on the Cedar Mountains in modern-day Lebanon. There, he not only built a mansion but also established the Landing Place, a paved platform for Anunnaki skyships and rocketships. This is the now famous 9-hectare Baalbek platform ruins, whose immense stone structures continue to stagger the imagination to date.
Enki, too, was disconcerted by Earth’s “searing” weather, as evidenced by his having had to set up his abode hundreds of kilometres away from the gold-mining belt so he could perpetually indulge the continuously refreshing effects of the riverside weather. He noted down all the health-related complaints of the Heroes and relayed them to Nibiru for the attention of King Anu.
RIP ALALU, HOWDY ANZU
When Anu arrived back on Nibiru after presiding over the trial of Alalu, he quickly announced to his Cabinet and other key assemblies that gold-prospecting missions were to be undertaken to every celestial body in the Solar System with a hospitable climate. This included planets and their moons. He also decreed that Earth was to be permanently settled under the head of Enlil deputised by Enki and therefore more Heroes were to travel to the planet to augment gold mining efforts as well as help speed up the erection of the required infrastructure.
Before long, a fresh wave of 50 Anunnaki was en route to Earth. This time around, females were part of the contingent. Heading it was Anu’s firstborn daughter, Ninmah, a distinguished Chief Medical Officer. Also numbering on the party was Ninmah’s ravishingly beautiful deputy called Sud, who you should take note of in view of what was to transpire in the near future.
Amongst other accoutrements, Ninmah carried special palliatives as well as the mining equipment Enki had designed. Before she set off for Earth, Anu had instructed her to make a stopover on Mars and if Anzu was still alive boost him with 20 men to start a base there. In the gold transportation process, Mars was to serve as a Way Station between Earth and Nibiru. This was both scientifically and logistically sensible. Says Slave Species of God author Michael Tellinger: “At present we (Earthlings) have the ability to take about seven people into space. Any more than that starts to require much greater thrust and technology mainly because of the added weight and the effect of gravity. The gravity on Mars is only 38 percent of that on Earth. By sending regular smaller shipments to Mars, they (the Anunnaki) would be able to send fewer but much larger shipments to Nibiru. A simple and practical solution.”
As Ninmah’s Celestial Boat coursed through the skies of Mars, it picked up a distress signal and homed in on it. The signal, it turned out, was being beamed from Anzu’s helmet. Anzu was the compassionate Anunnaki who had a certain, inexplicable attachment to the disgraced Alalu, the former King of Sirius and one of Earth’s pioneers (from the Sirius star system) who Anu had exiled to Mars. Anzu had volunteered to look after the ailing Alalu, who had been intravenously poisoned by Enlil after he conspired with his grandson Kumarbi to prise Earth from the grip of the Sirian-Orion Empire ruled by King Anu and his Queen Antu.
Anzu lay “prostrate” on the shores of a lake, seemingly lifeless. Indeed upon closer examination, he was found to be as dead as a door nail. The medical guru that was Ninmah immediately went to work. She first employed two ultra-sophisticated instruments called a Pulser and an Emitter.
“Ninmah touched his face, to his heart she gave attention,” writes Enki. “From her pouch she took out the Pulser; upon Anzu’s heart pulsing she directed. From her pouch she took the Emitter, its crystals life-giving emissions on his body she directed. Sixty times did Ninmah direct the Pulser, sixty times the Emitter she directed.”
The result reads like sci-fi: Anzu’s eyes opened and his lips began to quiver! Next, Ninmah orally administered two ingestible substances to a spasmodic, reflexive Anzu. “Gently upon his face the Water of Life she poured; his lips with it wetting. Gently upon his mouth the Food of Life she placed. Then the miracle did happen: Anzu from the dead arose!”
Anzu was so revitalised he was immediately able to talk, though haltingly, and walk, though falteringly. Ninmah inquired about Alalu and Anzu replied thus: “Alalu soon after the landing from unremitting pain to scream began. From his mouth his innards he was spitting.” He then led Ninmah and her entourage to some rocky outcrop well away from the lake. When they reached the site, Anzu explained: “In the great rock a cave I found, Alalu’s corpse therein I hid. Its entrance with stones I covered.”
Alalu’s remains were a pile of bones. In his case, however, the reanimating efforts that had applied to Anzu were not at all attempted as they were needless. All Ninmah did, on behalf of her father Anu (who generally had the tender virtues of Enki in contrast to the mean streak of Enlil) was to order that a lasting memorial be made for Alalu. “Let the image of Alalu forever gaze toward Nibiru (actually Sirius) that he ruled, toward the Earth whose gold he discovered.” Anu’s wishes were carried out forthwith, again using inconceivably sophisticated technology. Writes Enki: “The image of Alalu upon the great rock mountain with beams they carved. They showed him wearing an Eagle’s helmet; his face they made uncovered.”
As for Anzu himself, his manner of recognition was a foregone conclusion. Said Ninmah: “To you Anu the King his promise shall be keeping. Twenty heroes with you shall remain, the Way Station’s building to begin; rocketships from Earth the golden ores shall here deliver. Celestial Chariots from here the gold to Nibiru shall then transport. Hundreds of Heroes their abode on LAHMU (Mars) shall make: you Anzu shall be their commander.”
THE NASA COVER-UP
Until 2001, the gigantic rock carving that bore Alalu’s image, dubbed “Face on Mars”, was vividly seen in many a picture of the region of the planet Mars called Cydonia. Then NASA began a systematic process of defacing it in a bid to damp down curiosity and therefore forestall the inevitable dot connection: how they managed only they know.
Did our Illuminati alert their Anunnaki counterparts on Mars to effect a gradual remoulding of the iconic image? For when you today look at the same image, it is almost nondescript: it’s not as definitive as it was in 1976, the year it was first photographed. If Mars had a dense atmosphere like Earth, one would say this may have been the ultimate result of wind erosion but Mars almost totally lost its atmosphere 13,000 years ago in the aftermath of the same Nibiru “sweep-by” that triggered Noah’s Flood here on Earth.
As for the Anzu life-restoration miracle, does this suggest the Anunnaki were indeed capable of bringing the dead back to life? History seems to suggest so. Actually, those privy to occultic secrets (such as witches) will tell you that anybody can be revived from death within three days of their demise. In the first three days of one’s death, so it is said, one’s spirit still lingers around on Earth and so it can be “enticed” back into the body. That’s why one witch-doctor boasted in a local paper that “any dead body can be turned into a zombie”, though he did concede that for genuine Christians that is close to impossible!
The Bible actually seems to bear out Ninmah’s feat. Jesus is said to have arisen from the dead (the surface story) in three days’ time. The so-called raising of Lazarus by Jesus (again the surface story) was done on the fourth day, as if Jesus wanted to demonstrate that he had such unmitigated power he could summon back a being from the dead even when the 3-day feasibility period was past! There is a great deal you and I need to know about this Earth, my Brother.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com