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Why BDP Is Scared Of Land Audit

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)

BCP Deputy Leader


When most Batswana were busy preparing for the Easter Weekend government was concluding a fraudulent exercise to appoint members of Land Boards and Sub-Land Boards. If reports reaching us are anything to go by the process that began with public advertisements and a tedious selection process was a complete hogwash and a waste of public resources.

 

What has emerged is that Honourable Prince Maele who is the Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services appointed Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activists some of whom did not even bother to submit applications for consideration. Others who were not shortlisted in the selection exercise also found their way into the final list of new members.


Land Board appointments were made to reward BDP party functionaries to perpetuate a well- entrenched system of patronage. But more importantly it is a recipe for illegal land grabbing that will benefit the ruling political elite in general and members of a particular faction to which the Minister is a part of. In the past Ministers responsible for Land Boards were accused of indirectly influencing decisions of land boards across the country. With these appointments the Minister’s control over land allocation will be tightened. Increasingly Land Boards will be reduced to mere rubber stamps of the Minister’s decisions.


Corruption associated with land allocation is as old as the BDP government itself. The first glimpse into irregular land allocations to powerful persons with close ties to government was uncovered by a commission of enquiry into Ngwaketse Farms in the 1970s. The exercise was commissioned by Seretse Khama who was the first president of the republic.

 

Upon the realization that the findings were detrimental to the ruling party top brass the report of the commission was never made public. Recommendations from the report were ignored as if they never existed. I am certain that such reports will be made public by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the first hundred days upon taking over state power in 2019.


During the era of President Ketumile Masire another earth shattering land scandal was uncovered by the Kgabo Report (1991) coined after former Minister Englishman Kgabo, who chaired the Commission of Enquiry into Land Problems in Mogoditshane and Other Peri-urban Areas. It implicated influential members from the ruling party. Unfortunately it never saw the light of the day as the affected individuals took the matter to court which declared the report null and void on technicalities.

 

The political career of these powerful individuals almost came to an end following the Kgabo Report. The political consequences emanating from the report would be felt in 1994. For the first time the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) won thirteen constituencies translating into 30% of the popular vote.


President Festus Mogae had his own share of land problems exposed by the Lesetedi Judicial Commission of Enquiry into State Land Allocation in Gaborone (2004). This time around big business and top government bureaucrats were implicated reflecting the changing feature of the local economy.  Among other findings, the Commission found that there was evidence of land allocation “under questionable circumstances” in Gaborone. In most cases developments such as shopping malls and schools were constructed on controversial plots.


Despite these findings nobody was prosecuted or convicted. Attempts to implement the recommendations from the Lesetedi Commission exposed selective demolition of developments on land allocated under dubious circumstances based on social class. For the poor people of Nkoyaphiri and Tsolamosese, demolitions were meted on them in 2005 while big businesses were untouched in the case of Gaborone.  To add salt to injury, parliament was later informed that government departments were accommodated in some properties built on land acquired through dubious means.


The Lesetedi Commission further concluded that their findings could just be the tip of an ice berg. Based on these findings, one would have expected government to cast the net wider to other urban areas to nip the problem in the bud. In the short term the investigation could focus on presidential direct allocations.

 

In the medium to long term investigations could be expanded to land allocations in Tuli Block, Boteti, Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve, Gantsi, Sand Veld and North West. On a related matter Botswana Congress Party (BCP) advocates for comprehensive land audit, a move that is ferociously resisted by government. Given the above history littered with corruption in land allocation benefiting the powers that be their behaviour is comprehensible.


Government opted for the Land Administration Procedures, Capacity Systems (LAPCAS) instead of the Land Audit. The two are diametrically opposed. Land Audit aims at documenting allocated land in terms of ownership, history of use, how it was acquired and other related issues. On the other hand, LAPCAS is meant to develop an inventory of land regardless of how it was acquired. With respect to LAPCAS, plots were allocated numbers for use by public and private institutions like Postal Services, Statistics Botswana and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).


LAPCAS will not answer questions related to irregular land allocations as well as self-allocations. For example the system will not deal with controversial land allocations to President Seretse Khama Ian Khama in Borotsi/Chadibe (Tswapong), Mosu (Boteti), and Diseta Island (Shakawe). Khama may not be the only one who occupies land acquired under suspicious circumstances.

 

Claims that some individuals connected to the ruling party have acquired commercial farms under suspicious circumstances are widespread. Imagine the son of a Minister being allocated a commercial farm when he does not own any livestock ahead of cattle barons and later sells it for a fortune to support his lavish lifestyle.


Recent media reports uncovered a case of irregular change of land use implicating Minister Maele. According to reports a certain Simbi Phiri who is a Malawian was assisted by the Minister to fast track change of land use contrary to government land policy and overstepping the respective Land Board. Phiri is well-known for bribing public servants. According to Mmegi newspaper Phiri was recently found with $7.8 million of undeclared cash. He is said to have swindled the South African government large sums of money amounting to R170 million over water and waste water project.


Maele’s justification for being generous with the controversial business man can only be described as being economic with the truth. It is an underestimation of the intelligence of the general public. He claims that his Ministry has decided to make it easy to change land use. It is doubtful that a Minister could vary government policy without the consent of Parliament.

 

Only the Land Audit not LAPCAS can effectively deal with such cases. Minister Maele has a lot to explain in respect of his relationship with a person of Phiri’s controversial background. It is possible that he was not bribed but perception will linger over his head for many years to come if he does not come out clean on this one.

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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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