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The earlier BMD splits the better!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima


Last week I wrote an article in which I implored the Opposition to put its house in order. Though the article related to the Opposition as a whole its main motivation was the perennial instability within the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).

First was the debacle surrounding Advocate Sidney Pilane’s application to rejoin the party. The issue, which is arguably the genesis for the factions within the BMD, dragged on until efforts to resolve it through a Special Congress were aborted through constitutional technicalities. As if the troubles that have besieged the BMD since its elective congress are not enough, this past week it sank deeper into a leadership crisis when, during a meeting to discuss whether or not to postpone the Youth League congress, conflicts, which are reported to have resulted in physical violence, broke.

Though fewer people were involved in the tussle, this was reminiscent of the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s 1998 Palapye fights between the factions led by the late BNF president, Dr. Kenneth Koma, on the one hand and the former Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president, Michael Dingake, on the other.

Unfortunately for Opposition politics these fights resulted in the BNF’s split which resulted in the formation of the BCP, the split which many believe gave the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) a lifeline in the 1999 general elections considering how well the BNF had performed in the 1994 general elections.

In 1994 out of a total of 44 parliamentary seats the BDP won 27 while the BNF won 13. In terms of the popular vote the BDP got 54.7% while the BNF got 36.9%. The 1994 results were closer to the 2014 results. In 2014 the BDP got 37 seats compared to the BNF’s 17 and BCP’s 3. With respect to the popular vote, while the BDP got 46.5% the UDC and the BCP got 30% and 20.4% respectively.

Back to the BMD. Reportedly, despite the BMD’s National Working Committee (NWC) resolving that the Youth League congress should be postponed, it was held last weakened in Ramotswa, allegedly at the instance of the faction led by party President, Honourable Ndaba Gaolatlhe, and his deputy, Honourable Wynter Mmolotsi.

Interestingly, the Youth League congress was attended by 42 of the 57 constituencies. I say interestingly because assuming these were bonafide delegates,  this is quite a healthy turnout considering the impression that had been given that the Youth League was not ready to hold the congress.        

The congress was held to the infuriation of the faction led by the party Chairman, Nehemiah Modubule, and Secretary General, Honourable Gilbert Mangole, who later called a press conference during which they castigated Honourable Gaolathe, threatening disciplinary action against him and his supporters who include the Youth League president, Phenyo Segokgo.

Reports are that there is now a plan by the Modubule-Mangole faction to oust Honourable Gaolatlhe from the presidency. This is not surprising because during the press conference at which they castigated him for proceeding with the Youth League congress Modubule is reported to have said he has lost confidence in Honourable Gaolathe. Considering the instability that has characterized the BMD since its elective congress, one cannot discount the possibility of a split, resulting in the formation of another political party before the 2019 general elections.

 If this happens, it will be the second time the BDP is given a lifeline at the verge of a potentially decisive general election, the first having been the 1998 BNF split resulting in the formation of the BCP. In the same manner that many suspected that the BDP was behind the 1998 BNF split many suspect that the BDP is behind the turbulence within the BMD in an effort to diminish the UDC’s chances of winning the 2019 general elections.

This is not implausible considering the extent to which the BDP infiltrated the BCP, resulting in defections of its then Youth League president, Lotty Manyepedza, Youth League Secretary General, Thato Osupile and 2014 parliamentary aspirant for the Nata/Gweta constituency, Ditiro Majadibodu.   While many people, especially Opposition sympathizers, dread the possibility of a BMD split, I am of the view that the earlier the split occurs the better if the UDC is to have chances of winning the 2019 general elections or at least retaining its current seats in Parliament.

In my view, the longer the BMD continues as this false collective the more detrimental it is for the UDC because many people continue losing confidence on the Opposition on account of its perceived or actual failure to conduct its affairs. It is this very status that the Opposition is currently in which the BDP relishes. After all, it has always been the BDP’s propaganda that Batswana should not trust the Opposition with their vote since its propensity for conflict may jeopardize the country’s peace and stability should it attain State power.

With specific regard to the 2010 BDP split which resulted in the formation of the BMD, the BDP is now able to spin the incident, telling Batswana that considering that those who left it to form the BMD are the ones leading the factions within the BMD, it is clear that they did not leave because of being purged as they claimed, but because of their own intransigence and ill-discipline. Given the decades of peace and stability Batswana have enjoyed under the BDP rule, many, especially the elderly and those who live in rural areas, are unlikely to ‘risk’ their future by voting for the Opposition if this turbulence continues unabated.

It is an open secret that there are many within the BCP who were opposed to the BCP joining the UDC, arguing that it will be tainted by, among other infirmities, the conflicts that have come to characterize the BNF and the BMD. Though they lost during the party’s last elective congress, such voices within the BCP have not been obliterated into oblivion. They may, especially if the BMD situation continues to deteriorate, arise from the ‘ashes’ and orchestrate the BCP’s disaffiliation from the UDC.

Needless to say that it is not only within the BCP that there are dissenting voices. The BNF too has such voices, especially among former members of the Temporary Platform. So does the other, albeit less significant, member of the UDC, the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP).
If the BMD splits now and the splinter party leaves the UDC, assuming the other three UDC affiliates will remain under the coalition, the UDC will have enough time to deal with the fall out, especially as regards constituency allocation for the 2019 general elections as well as leadership.

Even if the BMD splits now and the other three UDC affiliates leave the coalition, they, as individual political parties, will have some time, albeit limited, to prepare for the 2019 general elections under their own individual identities, a scenario which has reasonable support across the opposition parties. But, if the BMD fracas continues and it splits as late as 2018 or 2019 the UDC is unlikely to recover in time for the 2019 general elections. In such a case, the BDP will have once again been handed a life line to power by an opposition political party.

Therefore, while I am by no means wishing the BMD to split, its split now rather than later is the better of the two devils. Implausible as it may sound, I say this because unless the UDC or the BMD congress intervenes now a BMD split is imminent. If the UDC and the BMD congress fail to intervene only a defection of one of the prominent members of the two factions may save the BMD. Therefore, though defections and splits are ordinarily bad for a political party, this is one of the few times that a political party as the BMD needs either a split or a defection as early as now.

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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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