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BMD Deserves Praise For Reconciliation Efforts

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Recently, I wrote an article in terms of which I argued that the conflict currently bedeviling the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), if not properly managed, will reverse the Opposition’s gains and diminish the Opposition’s chances of winning the 2019 general elections.

This is because the Opposition party with the highest number of Members of Parliament(MPs), the BMD, was tainted by factionalism, with one faction led by the party President, Honourable Ndaba Gaolathe, and his deputy, Honourable Wynter Mmolotsi, while the other faction is led by the party chairman, Nehemiah Modubule, and Secretary General, Honourable Gilbert Mangole

According to Weekend Post’s edition of 29th October 2016 “… Gaolathe and Mmolotsi mostly had the backing of BMD Parliamentarians while the Mangole and Modubule axis generally had the backing of the large BMD Central Committee…”
The BMD acrimony no doubt played a major role in the humiliating loss suffered by the Opposition during the recent bye elections in Mbalambi. I say humiliating because the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) had joined forces with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to wrestle the seat from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), but failed.

Thankfully, less than a week after the article was published I learnt that the BMD’s warring factions have decided to put the party first by reconciling their differences in order to combat the onslaught by his Honour the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is taking advantage of the rift to lure BMD members to the BDP.

The same Weekend Post story reports that “… on Thursday Mmolotsi and Mangole held a joint press briefing in a rare public show of unity not seen in well over 12 months. The two leaders conceded that the factionalism that used to rile BMD might actually be a contributing factor to the mass exodus of youths currently rocking BMD…”

The report continues to say “…Mangole, who is also Member of Parliament for Mochudi East, further noted that reconciliation is a step by step process that takes time. For the entire duration, Mangole kept referring to Mmolotsi as “my VP…”
Mangole is right. The reconciliation will be a process and will take time, but the fact that the process has commenced is commendable. It is also irrelevant that the reconciliation was caused by the need to combat HH Masisi’s onslaught.

What is of essence is for the BMD to enter into true reconciliation. True reconciliation involves being honest about the issues that brought about the disharmony in the first place, and coming up with strategies to address them. If this is not done only superficial reconciliation will be attained. Unfortunately such reconciliation will be short lived. True reconciliation also requires making compromises. Both parties have to be prepared to give up some of the demands they had in return for other gestures from the other party. For instance, if the issue of the Special Congress was one such divisive issue compromises have to be made on it.  The same applies to the issue of Advocate Sidney Pilane’s rejoining of the BMD.

Long lasting reconciliation also requires that all the structures of the party as well as the party’s partners be involved in the process. For instance, if only the National Executive Committee (NEC) members reconcile without involving Constituencies, Branches and Wards, such reconciliation will be in vain. Also, if such strategic partners as the UDC, BCP and civil society organizations sympathetic to the Opposition are excluded from the reconciliation and healing process, rifts are likely to re-emerge within a short period of time.

Resources allowing, the BMD would be better served by undertaking a team building exercise facilitated by a team building expert. For neutrality, It would be ideal for the BMD to engage an outsider, preferably from outside the country, to facilitate the process. The BMD cannot afford to fail at this effort to reconcile. If it fails, the Opposition is likely to lose future bye elections. Worse still, the Opposition will likely lose the 2019 general elections, especially that, as earlier posited in this column, the BDP is no doubt awakening. Unlike post the 2014 general elections when it was more than likely that the UDC will win in 2019, there is now doubt.  

This is because the BDP, though it also has divisions, seems to be managing them well, especially when it matters the most as it did during the Mbalambi bye elections. It also recently proved many wrong when, contrary to speculation, the elections for Southern District Council (SDC)’s Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson were conducted with no incident. Alec Seametso seamlessly succeeded Honourable Mephato Reatile, who has been appointed Specially Elected Member of Parliament. Seametso was also seamlessly succeeded by Mafhikana Councillor, Thamiso Chabalala. So united was the BDP that the Opposition did not even field any candidate to contest the elections.

Also, contrary to speculation that the recently conducted elections for Specially Elected Members of Parliament would cause division in the BDP, that has not been the case. The party, even those who are reported to have eyed the positions as party Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane, has rallied behind the two who were elected, Honorables Mephato Reatile and Bogolo Kanewendo. Meanwhile, I will have failed in my duties if I omit to appreciate the fact that His Excellency the President, Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, made a befitting Specially Elected Member of Parliament in Honourable Bogolo Kanewendo. Not only will she represent the youth and women, her training and skills will, if properly utilized, be an asset to our country.      

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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