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Khama, The Divisive President

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)

BCP Deputy Leader


President Seretse Khama Ian Khama is at it again. He is reported in the media as having accused the opposition of being unpatriotic, making baseless allegations that the opposition boycotted the recent thanksgiving events across the country. Khama makes unfounded claims that the opposition also boycotted the Botswana Golden Jubilee celebrations.

 

Subsequent to all these government issued a directive that is intended to compel public servants to put on national colours on Fridays as a way of showing patriotism. The tone of the directive clearly makes the Friday dress code mandatory. It is amazing how government could have the audacity to even think of a compulsory dress code when they failed to substantially increase salaries in almost a decade.


The idea of national colours on Fridays started during the celebrations of Botswana’s fifty years of independence. At the time Batswana were encouraged to put on national colours on Fridays to create hype around the celebrations and instil a sense of patriotism. The latest directive is stretching the matter too far. One wonders why only public servants should be the target of what appears to be a move by government to undermine their civil liberties. The directive is a serious encroachment on the democratic space of law abiding citizens. We reject this directive not because we don’t love our country but because we are against authoritarian tendencies that are inherent in such directives.


It is a well-known fact that the President is averse to local private media. Unfortunately those who monitor the media report to him selectively. As a result the president may have missed a lot of activities around Botswana Golden Jubilee celebrations. The fact is that key figures from the opposition such as Michael Kitso Dingake and Gobe W. Matenge for an example, participated in panel discussions and Botswana Television interviews to share with Batswana their perspective of Botswana during the early days.

 

Opposition elected representatives and party activists participated in the celebrations across the length and breadth of the country.  It remains a mystery how Khama got to know that the opposition boycotted the celebrations when there were no registers to capture participation by party affiliation. Besides when people boycott an event they do so to exercise their democratic right.


Having said that it is worth stating that, yes we had serious concerns over some aspects of the Golden Jubilee celebrations. In particular the BCP was worried about the budget allocations amounting to P140 million to celebrate the event when government was failing to adequately sponsor deserving young Batswana for tertiary education. The country is also faced with high levels of unemployment. Government was being heartless to the 6000 former employees of BCL and Tati Nickel.

 

This is so because when government committed millions of money for the celebrations they were aware of the crisis that was looming at BCL and Tati Nickel mines. It is only an irresponsible parent who will spend money to celebrate his/her 50th birthday and fail to pay school fees, buy school uniform and food for the children.  Khama is obviously presiding over an irresponsible government, period.  


In 2015 John Magufuli the President of Tanzania scrapped the independence celebrations.  Instead he mobilized citizens to join him in a national clean-up campaign on Independence Day. He could not imagine spending millions of limited revenue on independence celebrations while Tanzanians were dying of cholera because of filth conditions in densely populated areas.

 

The lavish public spending had come to an end in Tanzania under John “The Bulldozer” Magufuli. This is not a question of being more or less patriotic than the previous governments of Tanzania. As the Zambian pastor whose video clip went viral on social media would say it is an issue of sound decision making.  


With respect to Thanksgiving we rejected the over-politicization of the event. There were some overzealous sycophants at the Office of the President who had the guts to issue a press statement suggesting that the recent heavy rains were a result of one prayer by a single person being the President of the Republic of Botswana.

 

People who think this way are the type of persons who believe that Khama is equivalent to Jesus Christ although he rarely goes church. This was blasphemous to say the least. Ours is a strange country where the President prays only once in ten years and when he does it becomes big news.  


The President has suddenly become a rain-maker although in the past he denied being one when he was pressurised to resolve the water crisis that was severely impacting on the socio-economic development of the country. Kentse Rammidi the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Secretary General, put it succinctly when he said “….In the eyes of the Lord we are all mere mortals and anybody’s prayer counts no matter their position in society.”


Khama is either forgetful or unprincipled. He should be reminded of the words he used ahead of the 2009 General Elections when he gate-crushed a BCP political rally at Chadibe in the Sefhare-Ramokgonami constituency. He told a huge crowed that turned up that both the BCP and the ruling party loved this country. That the only difference is that “..we believe we can do better and they also think they can do the best for Batswana.”


The problem with Khama is that he has a funny understanding of what patriotism entails. He believes that holding divergent views from those of his government is being unpatriotic. In this respect his government frequently accuses the local media of being unpatriotic because they report news that put government in a bad light. The President behaves like a person who would crush a mirror into pieces just because it shows his scratched face from an attack by a puppy leopard. Hence government has unleashed war on the private media through acts of intimidation and harassment.


The dictionary definition of patriotism means “devoted love, support, and defence of one’s country or national loyalty.” Loyalty to the nation should not be misconstrued as loyalty to Khama and the ruling BDP. In most countries the highest form of patriotism is serving the country in the security forces especially the national army.

 

Interestingly both the ruling party and the opposition pride themselves of having decorated former military and police officers among their membership. It is an insult to these individuals who have sacrificed so much for the country for the president to even suggest that just because they are not in his party therefore they are unpatriotic. His views are driven by political intolerance.

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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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