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BDP politics of deception

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)

 BCP Deputy Leader

 

In its short history the Khama administration has mastered the art of deceiving Batswana of their real intentions.  Read their lips and believe in what they say at your own risk. What they say and what they do are frequently at variance. In some countries they worry about fake news. Here in Botswana the biggest area of concern are fake development projects.  In this article we attempt to demonstrate why the government of Botswana cannot be trusted.  To describe the current administration as a habitual liar is a serious underestimation.

 

When they spent P11 billion on the failed Morupule B mega project government consistently claimed that with the commissioning of the plant Botswana will not only be self-sufficient in energy supply but the country will be in a position to export power to the sub-region and beyond.  This turned out to be one of the biggest deceptions of our times, yet government has avoided the most honourable thing to do which is to offer unconditional apology to the nation. Had it not been because of the un-ceremonial closure of the BCL and Tati Nickel mines the country would still be experiencing disruptive load shading.  

 

When the idea of re-introducing the blue train was first mooted the nation was in a celebratory mood.  What excited them most was to hear that customised new trains will be purchased.  The termination of the blue train was an unpopular decision by government. When the delivery was finally made both the Botswana Railway management and government began speaking in forked tongues.  The nation was shocked to learn that there were no new blue trains to be delivered after all.  Apparently new coaches not engines had been purchased.

 

No sooner had the information emerged that coaches were delivered than it emerged that some of the components were second hand. The coaches were ordered from Trans Net at for an amount of R280 million. At the time of penning this article there were strong allegations that although Trans Net had promised to replace the second hand parts with new components this has not materialized – the politics of deception.  

 

Two years ago government came up with the famous Economic Stimulus Program (ESP). The program was heralded by many BDP functionaries as a timely initiative. Government propaganda machine was in full swing. Botswana Television, Radio Botswana (RB 1 and 2) and Botswana Daily News were awash with news suggesting the dawn of a new era. Who can forget the day the Secretary General of the ruling party was all over the private radio stations urging young people and frequent callers associated with the opposition to register companies in readiness to cash on ESP. This triggered an unprecedented number of new companies registered mostly by unemployed youth.

 

Poor Botsalo Ntuane, out of naivety or deliberate deception he really sounded convinced that this time around his party demonstrated high level creativity and revolutionary thinking. Two years down the line scores of individuals who were excited about ESP are conspicuous by their silence. Those with some conscience feel embarrassed by the mere mention of the failed program.

Like Back School, Double Shift, Target 20,000 and other ill-conceived initiatives ESP has not lived up to expectations. When ESP was introduced one of its main objectives was to address the backlog of projects carried over from National Development Plan 10 (NDP 10). For example the constituents of Nata-Gweta, Sefhare-Ramokgonami and Shoshong expected the construction of Sub-District Council offices. It turned out that these were empty promises. The projects failed to make it into NDP 11 either.

 

Clearly these projects have virtually been abandoned without consulting residents of respective areas.  At least Polson Majaga Member of Parliament (MP)for Nata-Gweta made a big issue out of it to the extent of threatening to resign as MP for the area if the Sub-District was not constructed. Feeling the hit government mounted a temporary asbestos structure for a Service Centre in Nata. On the other Members of Parliament for Sefhare-Ramokgonami and Shoshong conspired with government to deny their constituents the developments they so deserved for political expediency.  For them being a cabinet minister was more important than fighting for the legitimate rights of their voters. If this is not fraud then I don’t know what is. 

 

ESP failed to generate any meaningful gainful employment on a long term basis.  Few low paying insecure and temporary jobs were created. After twenty-five houses were constructed in Machaneng and the Gaborone-Phakalane link road the jobs ended the day the projects were officially handed over. Today few in the BDP leadership wish to be associated with the botched ESP.

 

Another key objective of the program was to stimulate the domestic economy.  Exactly two years since the program was launched there is no evidence that ESP will accomplish its intended objective. A close examination of the projects envisaged clearly shows a less ambitious approach to an economic stimulus program. Constructing a few houses and link roads cannot resuscitate a struggling economy. 

 

An opportunity was lost to build long term infrastructural investments such as the North-South dual carriage road, Trans-Kgalagadi railway line, implementation of Zambezi Integrated Agro-commercial Developmental Program as well as the re-construction of roads that have exceeded their life span. More importantly the program should have been leveraged to safe 6000 jobs at BCL and Tati Nickel mines.

 

Recently councillors in Kweneng District Council exposed the glaring deception around ESP in relation to NDP 11 projects. A close examination of the NDP 11 projects by the vigilant Councillors clearly showed an inclusion of ESP projects with no clear projects for NDP 11 or District Development Plan 8 (DDP 8).  Led by the vocal Gabane North East Councillor Ofentse Mareme of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Councillors across political parties took an unusual decision of rejecting the proposed projects for DDP 8.  

 

ESP is currently being overshadowed by the re-introduction of LG 1109 and everybody is jumping into the band wagon. The program was introduced as a new initiative captioned as Constituency Development Fund (CDF). Each constituency is entitled to P10 million annually. In the 1970s LG 1109 was implemented to accelerate rural development spearheaded by Ministry of Local Government with a strong component of community participation. The implementation of the current program adopted a top-down planning process as community involvement is given lip service. It is nothing more than a vote catching move by a desperate government that is in a state of panic instilled by the united opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) political Tsunami.

 

Given the above scenario one can safely predict that the much awaited Lobatse Leather Park will end the same way as the Palapye Glass Project, Morupule B and the botched ESP. The country is likely to end up with a mini-tannery the size of the old Swaneng Tannery that was conceived and implemented by Patrick Van Reinsburg and his team of progressive minds.  The nation must see this for what it is – the politics of deception.

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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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