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GOLDEN JUBILEE PROFILE – ELIJAH W.M.J. LEGWAILA (1939-2016)

Jeff Ramsay
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA

This morning, at his home village of Mathathane, the nation is burying one of its true statesmen, the late Elijah Legwaila, who passed away on the 27th of July 2016.

Our approaching Golden Jubilee celebrations is an opportunity for all of us appreciate the fact that that quality of Botswana's progress over the past five decades was not an accident of history. It was, rather, enabled by the leadership, wisdom and sacrifice of many remarkable men and women whose collective contributions towards nation building should serve as an inspirational benchmark for the rest of us moving forward.

Prominent among those to whom the nation is indebted, are the many committed public servants who devoted themselves to the immense task transforming what back in 1966 was a collection of Tribal Reserves, Crownlands, and concession areas that together formed the British administered colonial Protectorate, into a modern, united, proud and democratic middle income nation.

The late Legwaila stands out as one such individual; his four and a half decades of uninterrupted public service having, in particular, contributed significantly in the shaping our country's record, and corresponding global reputation, for good governance, public service delivery and respect for the rule of law.

His career highlights included his extended tenures as the Permanent Secretary to the President from 1989 to 1998 and Judge President of the Industrial Court from 2000 to 2011, as well as serving as a Justice of the Court of Appeal in his final years.

Yet notwithstanding the high positions he held and his many personal achievements, the late Legwaila remained a model of modesty and true practitioner of teamwork. As a leader he combined the qualities of firmness and determination with patience and the cultivation of mutual respect among his subordinates.

Elijah Legwaila was born at Mathathane in Bobirwa on the 8th of August 1939.  Early evidence of his lifelong commitment to community service can be found in this work as a  primary school teacher, prior to his completing his secondary school studies at Moeng College.

His scholastic aptitude was reflected in his subsequent academic training. After earning his law degree (L.L.B.), from the then University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in 1972, he went on to further studies at Harvard Law School in the United States, where he was awarded a Master's Degree (L.L.M.) in 1980.

Thereafter, his legal brilliance can be seen in his rapid rise through the ranks of the Attorney General's Chambers, which he joined as State Counsel in 1972. By 1976 he had been promoted to the post of Assistant Attorney General rising to the position of Deputy Attorney General during the following year.

Besides giving general legal advice to Government, as Deputy Attorney General the late Legwaila was responsible for overseeing commercial contracts including the legal vetting of loans with international development institutions, as well as treaties and other international agreements.

Justice Legwaila's high level contributions during this period also included his professional leadership in the Botswana delegations involved in the Lome convention negotiations between Africa, Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) counties and the European Union, and the Preferential Trade Area for Southern and Eastern Africa.

He also served as the Head of the Botswana delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a field in which he can rightfully be regarded as a local legal pioneer.

It was in recognition of the late Legwaila's outstanding qualities that, in 1989, he was appointed by then President Sir Ketumile Masire as Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), succeeding Festus Mogae.

PSP a post whose mandate continues to include the major responsibilities of being the Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to Cabinet, as well as the senior official advisor to the President.

Justice Legwaila's decade as the country's senior public officer was marked by unprecedented growth and reform in Government, which was accompanied by expanded service delivery in such areas as health, education and social services, as well as the accelerated delivery of public infrastructure.

The outward success of Botswana's governance model, during his tenure as PSP, attracted increased global as well as regional attention, consolidating our county's international status as a benchmark for democratic development; as was evidenced in the achievement of high levels of socio-economic progress.

After stepping down as PSP in 1998 Justice Legwaila continued his distinguished service to the nation. Where others may have been tempted to rest or profit on their laurels he agreed to be appointed as a Judge of the Industrial Court, becoming the Court's Judge President from 2000 until 2011.

In December 2011, following his retirement from the Industrial Court, Justice Legwaila was further appointed to the Court of Appeal, a position he retained until the time of his death.

From 1998 until 2013 he also notably served as the Chairperson of the University of Botswana Council.

For all of his varied contributions the late Justice Legwaila will be fondly remembered a giant on whose shoulders others have had the good fortune of stand. May His Soul Rest in Peace.

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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
Samson

… 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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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

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 www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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