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UDC: Strengths, Weaknesses, & Opportunities & Threats (Part 1)

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Commendably, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has been able to conclude the coalition agreement with the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with about two years ten month before the 2019 general elections.

All things being equal this will put the UDC in good stead with respect to starting its preparations for the 2019 general elections, especially if the BDP will not address its own internal political issues with the same urgency. The astute leadership shown by the UDC president, Honourable Duma Boko, and BCP president, Dumelang Saleshando, during the negotiations is indeed commendable. While the UDC has reason to celebrate this milestone, it needs to be reminded of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats facing it.  

That, for the first time since independence, all opposition parties are going to contest the general elections under one name is, no doubt, a strength. This strength theoretically presents the opportunity for the political parties under the UDC to combine their resources and political capital and out-compete the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

For instance, those who believe in vote splitting have argued that the BDP won the 2014 general elections because of the votes split between the UDC and the BCP, benefiting the BDP, especially in such marginal constituencies as Ngami, Francistown East, Bobonong and Selibe Phikwe East.

This strength, however, presents a threat. This being the possibility of conflicts over constituency allocation. The Botswana People’s Party (BPP), for example, has expressed disgruntlement after it was allocated four constituencies, arguing that given what it brings to the coalition it should have been allocated at least eight constituencies.

In my view, BPP’s disgruntlement is exacerbated by the fact that one of the constituencies it has been awarded is in Serowe, a BDP stronghold which the BNF, BMD and BCP know is unlikely to be won by an opposition party, let alone the BPP which has not had a seat in Parliament for decades.  

If this conflict is not properly managed it may result in voting sabotage where members of a disgruntled opposition political party would sabotage the ‘favored’ political party and vote for the BDP, increasing the BDP’s chances of winning the 2019 general elections.

One of the weaknesses of the UDC is that it appears it will, in the spirit of compromise, go to the 2019 general elections with leadership that has not been popularly elected. While it is, to a certain extent, true that this will avoid and/or reduce conflict that may be brought by elections, the threat is that this may be a recipe for conflict in future. Still related to compromise, the other weakness of the UDC is its decision to have two vice presidents, one from the BCP and the other from the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).

Already, there are reports that some in the BMD believe that the BCP does not deserve to be given a vice presidential position considering its poor performance at the 2014 general elections; that it currently only has two Members of Parliament (MPs) and that it is its decision to walk out of the coalition talks pre-2014 which contributed to the BDP retaining state power.

This situation is not helped by the fact that some in the BMD believe that the BMD is getting a raw deal from its membership of the UDC. In their view, it is unfair that the BNF president, Honorable Boko, is the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament when the BNF has fewer MPs than the BMD.

For them, it is the BMD president, Honorable Ndaba Gaolatlhe, who should be the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. It is also their view that Honorable Gaolatlhe should be the UDC president. President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, obviously in an effort to sow seeds of discord within the BMD, recently joined the aforesaid voices and expressed ‘displeasure’ at the unfair treatment that BMD, which stood by the UDC when BCP left it in the rain, is suffering at the hands of the UDC.

President Khama’s words may result in some members of the BMD, especially those who believe that such unfair treatment exists and those in the margins of the party defecting from the BMD to the BDP. Therefore, while the two vice presidents bring an opportunity to the UDC in that its president, and by extension the UDC, will benefit from the advice given by two individuals with different back grounds, the threat is that it may result in instability since there may be a power struggle between the vice presidents.

This will also likely pose a threat to our country’s peace and stability should the UDC attain state power in 2019. Since the state Constitution provides for only one vice president it remains to be seen what the UDC will do should it attain state power. If  the UDC amends the Constitution to provide for two vice presidents, as some suggest, it will not only be accused of wasting state funds for political expediency, but also runs the risk of running a divided and unstable government which may result in losing state power.

If it keeps the status quo whoever does not become state vice president is likely to be disgruntled, something which may be a threat to the party and government’s stability. This will be more so that such disgruntlement will, in all likelihood, engulf the entire party because the position is believed to be more for the party than the individual.

One of the greatest challenges likely to face the UDC is the ideological differences that the affiliate political parties have. Even though the UDC has announced that the ideology it has settled for is social democracy, there is bound to be conflict between the Socialists, even Communists, within the BNF and the Capitalists in the BCP.

Though there is a marked difference between a political ideology and an electoral manifesto, the UDC’s 2014 general elections manifesto is, however, an opportunity to find common ground ideologically between the parties, especially that the only affiliate party that was not involved in its formulation is the BCP whose ideology, in any event, has always been social democracy.

The UDC has, as its greatest opportunity, the fact that the BDP, if it does not make compromises for the chairpersonship and presidential elections, is likely to be torn apart by its elections. The fact that it is increasingly becoming likely that His Honour the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, is likely to be unopposed for the party chairpersonship and presidency is, however, a threat for the UDC.

In the result, now that the new UDC has been launched, it has to retreat in order to reflect on how to maximize its strengths; turn its weaknesses into strengths and opportunities into successes. Often, one’s weakest moment is when he or she is basking in glory. The UDC should avoid falling into such a trap.

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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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