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Opposition, put your house in order!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima



Despite the fact that there are only two years six months before the 2019 general elections, the Opposition’s house seems to be in such disorder that prospects of ending the Botswana Democratic Party(BDP)’s fifty three year rule are fading by the day.

Take the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) for instance. It has for more than two years now been bedeviled by such factional conflicts that it almost has two National Executive Committees (NECs) working parallel to one another. Inevitably, the NEC’s disharmony has spilled over to the party structures further weakening the party. The latest incident is the Youth League’s National Executive Committee’s decision to postpone its elective congress.

Among the reasons given for the postponement are shortage of funds and that the Youth League’s Secretariat has not received minutes and delegation list from branches, a situation that can make it impossible to reach the 29 constituencies threshold necessary for the congress to form a quorum. Others claim that the real reason for the postponement is that there were flawed branch congresses that will result in most branches bringing parallel delegations to the congress. None of these reasons makes sense.

How can the party fail to budget for its Youth League’s elective congress? How can the party, even in the face of its Youth League’s elective congress, fail to ensure that branch congresses are held properly in terms of the Youth League’s constitution? Is it far-fetched to conclude that the Youth League’s elective congress is being sabotaged as the Special Congress was to meet a certain faction’s selfish political objectives? I think not. No wonder the Youth League is split, with one faction, team #Itlhabanele, insisting that the planned congress would go on, while the other seems content with the postponement.

If media reports are true, how does the Youth League President, Phenyo Segokgo, publicly state that he would ensure that the congress goes ahead when he is reported to have appended his signature to the press release announcing the congress’s postponement?
Recently, in another show of disunity, some Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Councillors defied the coalition’s resolution to vote for Kagiso Thutlwe and Kagiso Tshekega as Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Gaborone City Council respectively when they voted for BMD Councillor, Rhoda Sekgororoane.

Though Thutlwe defeated Sekgororoane by 23 votes to 12, it is abundantly clear that Sekgororoane got nine votes from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and three from UDC. How do members of the Opposition vote with the BDP for such a crucial vote?
Since the signing of the coalition agreement between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and UDC, despite the leadership stating that there has been agreement on the allocation of constituencies, the Botswana National Front Youth League and the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) have spoken at cross purposes with the leadership.

Recently, there have been media reports alleging that the BPP is now claiming that it has never been allocated any constituencies. This is surprising for a party which is represented at the level of Chairperson in the coalition. Still related to the coalition agreement, the issue of two Vice Presidents remains a divisive one, with others arguing that considering that it reneged from the coalition pre-2014 general elections, effectively allowing the BDP to win, the BCP does not deserve the Vice Presidency in the coalition.

There was even disagreement on whether or not the Vice Presidency is at two levels, one being the 1st Vice President while the other is 2nd Vice President because the BCP is reported to have argued that it cannot be given the 2nd Vice Presidency since that would undermine its role in the coalition.

As I have hitherto opined in this column, the 2019 general elections will be different from the 2014 general elections in many respects. The hysteria of the 2011 public sector strike would have diminished. The sympathy of the alleged assassination of the late Gomolemo Motswaledi would be no more. The extra judicial killing of John Kalafatis would be in distant memory. The trade union movement’s influence on the elections would be diminished following the disaffiliation of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) from the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU).

The acrimony between BOPEU and BOFEPUSU, if it will remain unresolved until 2019, will likely have divided the workers’ vote, especially if it is true that the BOPEU leadership is more sympathetic to the BDP. It remains to be seen how much of an impact this will have on the Union’s rank and file. In Kgatleng, the anger against the BDP government regarding the circumstances which led to the self-exile of their Kgosi Kgolo, Kgosi Kgafela II, would have subsided, especially considering government’s attempts at reconciliation.

Kgosi Kgafela II’s younger brother, Mmusi Kgafela,’s joining of the BDP, which is said to have been endorsed by Kgosi Kgafela II, is also likely to see the BDP winning the Kgatleng West constituency which Dr. Unity Dow lost to the BMD’s Gilbert Mangole in 2014. In 2014 many Opposition candidates were unknown to the voters and some were elected not because of their own profile and merit, but because of the euphoria surrounding the ‘Moono’ winds of change.

With five years in Parliament, in 2019, these candidates will be judged on their own merit and some are unlikely to return to Parliament. The likelihood exists that by 2019 some will have defected back to the BDP. Though the BDP is currently divided because of the Masisi and Molefhi factions in the run up to its elective congress in Tonota in July this year, it is likely to have stabilized by 2019. Even if it would not have stabilized, its members are unlikely to vote for the UDC because there is a lot at stake for the 2019 general elections.

Though he no longer commands the support he had when he entered into politics, President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, in order to protect his legacy, will use the little support he has left to rigorously campaign for the BDP after his retirement.
Businessman, in order to protect their business interests, which they believe will be secure under the BDP rule, will finance the BDP’s campaign with all their might. Some capitalist foreign governments, also in an effort to protect their national interest and investments, will also fund the BDP’s campaigns.  

The BDP will, especially from 2018, marshal all state resources to promote its campaigns. It will give Batswana, especially the poor and elderly who depend on government’s social welfare programmes, the impression that if the Opposition attains State power it will end such programmes. More than ever before, the BDP government will use such state media as Botswana Television and the Daily Newspaper to channel its propaganda to the voter. It has done it before when there was little at stake. Why can’t it do it in 2019 when it will be more at risk of losing State power than it has ever been?

Therefore, if it is to stand any chance of winning the 2019 general elections, the Opposition has to put its house in order. Opposition disunity is fodder for the BDP since it will use it to scare Batswana from voting for the Opposition using the propaganda that an Opposition government will result in lack of peace and stability in the country. The BDP will, as it has done before, tell Batswana that since they are unable to enjoy stability as political parties, Opposition parties cannot lead a stable government and are, therefore, a threat to our internationally acclaimed record as a beacon of peace and stability.

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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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