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Khama, Is He Staying or Leaving?

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)

BCP Deputy Leader


Botswana is certainly at the cross roads. The future peace and tranquillity of this country has never been so uncertain ever since the controversial constitutional provision of automatic succession which also set a two term limit. During President Sir Ketumile Masire there was no doubt that he would vacate the seat at the end of his term and that his Vice President Festus Mogae will succeed him. 

 

What Masire did and what he said left citizens with no doubt that he was preparing for life outside political power. The same was true for Mogae as he prepared to leave office and allowed his Deputy Seretse Khama Ian Khama to take over power becoming the third president of the Republic of Botswana.


According to the constitution , President Khama will leave office on April Fools’ Day in 2018. However unlike during the Masire and Mogae era there are lingering questions as to whether he is ready to relinquish power and allow his Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi to automatically succeed him.  His body language says otherwise.

 

In fact he has not talked about his imminent departure from office in recent times. He has successfully managed to avoid the topic.   Recently Margaret Nasha the former Minister and Speaker of the National Assembly, now a prominent opposition figure is reported to have asserted that Khama may extend his stay in power after his term expires.


Unlike Khama, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Botlogile Tshireletso have been consistent with their planned political retirement message. Constituents of Serowe South are now certain that their Member of Parliament (MP) and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Venson-Moitoi will cease to be their MP in 2019. The same is true for electorates of Mahalapye East who have come to accept that this is the last term for their current MP who is also Assistant Minister of Local Government.


Apart from the proposed hefty retirement package for President Khama there is no real indication that he is getting ready to leave in 2018. By this time in 2007 Mogae had virtually surrendered power to Khama and allowed him to set out his transition team. Hence he was able to begin the process of introducing a law and mobilize resources to establish the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS).  By the end of 2007 Mogae was reduced to a lame duck president as Khama assumed more powers and influence.  


We cannot say the same about Mokgweetsi Masisi.  Insiders say Masisi does not even enjoy the luxury of using the Presidential Jet when he is representing or acting for the President. He also comes across as someone who lacks the confidence of a president in waiting. He frequently reminds all and sundry that he will be president in April 2018. It is for this reason that he has come to be popularly referred to as Keasekotama.


Reports that a cabinet meeting was called to discuss among others the future of Masisi as Vice President is shocking but not surprising. There is so much uncertainly around his position in the succession scheme of things.  One wonders why Khama would preside over cabinet to discuss matters that are beyond their powers in respect of appointment of individuals to cabinet positions.  That should be the sole prerogative of the president.  


The real reason for convening such a meeting may never be known, a move that will give rise to speculations and conspiracy theories. This is because prior to the controversial cabinet meeting word was going around that Khama was seriously contemplating dropping Masisi from the position of Vice President. 

 

The move would have meant that someone else like Tshekedi Khama would become the Vice President and automatically succeed Khama in April 2018. Surprisingly Khama somersaulted and supported his Deputy for unknown reasons sending shock waves among Masisi’s detractors.


The question remains as to why Khama would feel uncomfortable with Masisi becoming president upon his retirement to the extent of thinking of dropping him. Part of the reason may lie in that Maisisi is generally considered an outsider in the tightly neat group of Khama family, their close friends, and relatives. 

 

Under these circumstances bootlicking has its own limit.    Blood becomes thicker than water.  Obviously Khama led the most corrupt government since independence in 1966. For this reason relinquishing power to an unknown figure like Maisis may be a big risk for him and his allies.


Their biggest fear is that Masisi administration may decide to pursue corrupt powerful individuals who are close associates of the president. The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is known to be sitting on dockets of such persons.  Key among these is Isaac Kgosi the Director General of DISS.  The relationship between Kgosi and Khama reminds one of the relationship that existed between the late Louis Nchindo and Festus Mogae.  


When Nchindo faced prosecution for alleged corrupt activities Mogae received representations from powerful BDP personalities pleading with him to spare Nchindo from prosecution which he rejected. So determined was Mogae to allow justice to take its course that any attempt by Nchindo to blackmail him failed dismally.

 

Khama is aware that Masisi may not be easy to blackmail.  Prosecuting Kgosi could shake the core of the Khama circle and their sponsors.  The end could be as bloody as it happened in the case of Nchindo and Mogae.  As if that is not enough, questions still remain concerning the role of the president in the killing of John Kalafatis, execution style.


It is worth noting that Khama will leave power at the peak of systematic looting of public assets.  The controversial sale of BCL to billionaires from Dubai is a case in point.  If Khama leaves government the possible criminality associated with this sale could be exposed and the perpetrators prosecuted with the potential to implicate the president. 

 

This is because there is no way an undertaking of this magnitude could be executed without the direct knowledge and tacit approval by the president. Even if Masisi was to survive the work of the under-world he is likely to remain a ceremonial president as real power remains with the Khama brothers. Already Tshekedi Khama is building what appears to be a well-equipped militia group masquerading as an anti-poaching unit. 

 

On the other hand Khama is proposing for himself a P34million budget for the construction of what is widely believed to be a retirement military facility.  Part of his private command post will be his house that is likely to be bigger than the current state house. Whoever indirectly or directly participates in a scheme meant to loot and threaten the security of this country should be held accountable by the incoming Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) government. In addition, the retired president must be compelled to pay back part of the money used to build structures that have nothing to do with a normal retirement home.

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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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