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BCP is unwavering on the land audit

DR KESITEGILE GOBOTSWANG

In 2014 Dumelang Saleshando the President of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and former Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central tabled a motion in Parliament calling for a comprehensive land audit.  As expected the ruling Botswana Government used its majority to defeat the motion. Their main argument was that government preferred to institute a Land Administrative Procedures Capacity and Systems (LAPCAS). It is worth noting that Charles Tibone the former Member of Parliament for Tati West broke ranks with his party to support the motion. The issue of the land audit featured prominently in BCP 2014 manifesto and through-out the parliamentary candidate debates across length and breadth of the country. We shall return to LAPCAS with a view to expose its shortcomings.

The main thrust of the land audit is to document land in Botswana in terms who owns the land, how it was acquired, value, tenure, and the variation between planned and use of the land. The move is triggered by worrying land patterns where some individuals own hundreds of pieces of land while others are landless. There is something that is seriously wrong for a country like Botswana which is the size of France and the State of Texas with a tiny population of 2 million to be experiencing a major land crisis.  Land allocations are characterized by lack of transparency resulting in officially sanctioned corruption. This can only be attributable to mismanagement of land in Botswana. Urban, peri-urban, freehold farms and tourism places are worst affected. In urban areas citizens wait 20 years for land while a foreigner processes vast amount of land in just ten years of residence in the country.

In 1992 the magnitude of corruption scandals associated with land allocation were exposed by a Presidential Commission of Enquiry on Land Problems in Mogoditshane commonly known as the Kgabo Commission. Inappropriate, irregular as well as self-allocations were discovered by the Commission. Unfortunately the findings of the report came to nothing as the courts of law killed it on account that the Commission should have conducted its proceedings in public. This was after some of the powerful individuals who were implicated approached the courts as aggrieved persons.  

More than ten years after the Kgabo Commission problems of land allocation persisted. It was for this reason that the Lesetedi Land Commission was established to investigate controversial allocation of state land in Gaborone. The Commission revealed among other things a clear collusion between senior employees of the Department of Lands and land grabbing powerful individuals. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that cash money must have exchanged hands. Like the Kgabo Commission the findings of the Lesetedi Land Commission were as good as thrown in the dust bin as unscrupulous businessmen and corrupt public servants went unpunished. It is an issue that must be revisited in the event that a new government replaces the moribund Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in 2019. Accusations of a witch hunt must not stop the new government from taking stem measures against those implicated irrespective of their position in society. Such action may include expropriation of land acquired illegally.

 If irregular land allocations can take place in a capital city like Gaborone clearly the situation must be uncontrollable in the periphery. Places like the Tuli Block, Francistown, Boteti, Nata/Gweta, Chobe, Kasane, Ngamiland, Okavango, and Kgalagadi, and Game Reserves such as Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR)  must be hard hit when it comes to irregular and self-allocation of land by powerful individuals connected to the ruling BDP. Botswana is a country that has recorded both income as a well as land inequalities with a government that has no clear solution to such challenges. As if this is not enough vast amount land remains deserted by absentee landlords yet the government of the day does not seem to know what to do about the situation.  

 The land audit that the BCP is advocating for seeks to comprehensively examine the problem of land management in Botswana with a view to formulate long term solutions.  The problems tabulated above cannot be effectively addressed by the LAPCAS exercise.  Simply put, LAPCAS is a land inventory program.  A close examination of the MLH 9/15 form entitled “Land rights Claim Form” shows that the intention is far from establishing true sources of land that is being claimed by the individual. The only question being asked is the name of the claimant, name of the Land Board that allocated the land, and the location of the piece of land in terms of ward, village and district. Once collected the information is supposed to be captured in the computer for management and administrative purposes. Prior to capturing the data surveys would have been conducted and plot numbers allocated. Surprisingly the Ministry has started allocating plot numbers across the country before surveys are undertaken. It is unclear where they get the plot numbers when they don’t have survey maps. The exercise is fraudulent to say least. No long ago the Minister of Lands and Housing expressed concern over the slow pace of LAPCAS.

Based on the above narration one can safely conclude that LAPCAS serves a completely different purpose from that of the land audit as proposed by the BCP. It cannot address problems of land disparities as well as illegally or corruptly acquired land. If anything it has the potential to legitimise land obtained through irregularities.  For these reasons the BCP remains resolute in advocating for the land audit.

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD) is the Deputy Leader, BCP

 

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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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