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BMD should borrow a leaf from BCP

Ndulamo Anthony Morima


Since its formation in 1998, following the Botswana National Front (BNF) 1998 split after the infamous Palapye Congress, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has, on the whole, enjoyed peace and stability.

When it was formed many believed it will, like most splinter parties, be short lived. This expectation was enhanced when most of the BCP Members of Parliament (MPs) who had defected from the BNF lost their seats in the 1999 general elections. In the 1999 general elections, the BCP, though it was voted for by 40, 096 voters translating to 11.90% of the popular vote, won only one Parliamentary seat, Okavango constituency, through the late Joseph Kavindama.

Even when the BCP had only one MP it held together, the three threads holding it together being discipline, respect for leadership, and inner party democracy. Its members, both the rank and file, put the party above their own personal interests. When in the 2014 general elections the BCP won only three seats in Parliament some thought that was a recipe for a split. Often, when a political party suffers such an electoral loss there is a lot of finger pointing which, if not properly managed, may lead to a split.

Not only did the BCP lose most of the seats it contested. It also, perhaps most significantly, lost Gaborone Central despite it being contested by its leader, Dumelang Saleshando, who wrestled it from a political heavy weight, Dr. Margret Nasha, in 2004, becoming, like the late Kavindama, the only BCP MP which attracted him the name ‘Lesiela’, meaning orphan.    

Of course as the BCP was licking its wounds there was finger pointing, especially by those who believed the BCP could have performed better electorally if it had contested the elections under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) banner. It is public knowledge that after the 2014 general elections there were divisions in the BCP, with some canvassing for the party to join the UDC coalition while others were opposed to that, arguing that the BCP should stand alone to avoid a dilution of its political ideology and policies.

Besides the fear of dilution of its political ideology and policies, those opposed to BCP’s joining of the UDC coalition, gave as a reason for such apprehension, the fact that the UDC affiliates, especially the BNF, were prone to conflict and instability and that may rub on the BCP, tainting its peace and stability record.

Indeed, largely because of the UDC issue, the BCP went to its July 2015 elective Congress a divided party, with many in the Youth League, for example, and some in the top echelons of the party, including the Central Committee, opposed to the coalition. One of the biggest causalities of the Central Committee elections was long time Information and Publicity Secretary, Taolo Lucas, who lost the Vice Presidency to former Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang despite the fact that as long time party spokesperson his name had become synonymous with the party.

As if that was not enough, following the August 2015 leak of an alleged secret recording of some BCP Youth League leaders selling the soul of the party, the BCP lost its Youth League President, Lotty Manyepedza, and Youth League Secretary General, Thato Osupile, to its political nemesis, the BDP.

While the latter has not been very active in politics, the former has been used by the BDP to great effect especially in bye elections held in Opposition strongholds. Though the Opposition, the BCP in particular, may not publicly admit it, Manyepedza as well as another defector to the BDP, Ditiro Majadibodu, who contested the Nata Gweta constituency under the BCP in 2014, are a source of concern.

Yet, the BCP leadership, in handling these challenges, exercised caution and political maturity. For instance, though Central Committee members differed on whether or not to join the UDC coalition it remained united and none of its members was purged. Also, though the Youth League was divided on the UDC coalition issue, the leadership, especially Central Committee members, did not exploit the divisions for their selfish political expediency.  Neither were the Youth League members who were opposed to the coalition purged after the leaders who were opposed to the coalition lost the 2015 Central Committee elections.

What is perhaps more admirable is the fact that though their leader, Dumelang Saleshando, lost his Parliamentary seat in 2014 and the party, under his stewardship, was decimated during the 2014 general elections, the party stood by him and showed confidence in him by re-electing him unopposed in 2015.

The BMD, on the other hand, has, in my view, dismally failed in its handling of the challenges facing it as a party. Its National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Working Committee (NWC) have never functioned since they were elected at its July 2015 elective Congress in Ghantsi.

The Advocate Sidney Pilane matter in which he applied to rejoin the party exposed rifts of unparalleled proportions in the party simply because the NEC handled it along factional lines, giving rise to conflicts that have resulted in the suspension of the party President, Honourable Ndaba Gaolatlhe, and his deputy, Wynter Mmolotsi, among others.

Still owing to the NEC and NWC’s dysfunctional and factional status, the Youth League was used to fight proxy wars on behalf of the factions within the NEC and NWC. As a result, the Youth League cannot point to any achievement in advancing youth empowerment during its tenure. Neither can the Women’s Wing whose May 2016 Elective Congress was also divided along factional lines, with the Mangole/Modubule faction, also known as the Pilane faction, losing to the Gaolatlhe/ Mmolotsi faction.

Recently, efforts were made by the Mangole/Modubule dominated NWC to postpone a statutory Youth League Elective Congress though it was held, allegedly at the instance of the Gaolatlhe/ Mmolotsi faction, in defiance of the NWC resolution. This has thrown the BMD into another quagmire since it has resulted in the suspension of the party President, Honourable Ndaba Gaolatlhe, and his deputy, Wynter Mmolotsi, among others. No doubt, the party’s forthcoming Congress, assuming it will be held without it being similarly postponed, will be marred by turbulence.

Granted, political parties, like all other human institutions, will always have conflicts, even factions. It is how a political party manages these conflicts and factions that matters. In my view, the BMD has failed dismally in this area. In my view, the BMD, having been in existence for about seven years now, should have graduated from what Dr. Roger K. Allen calls the Chaos(Fire-Fighting Mentality) stage to the High Performance (Outstanding, sustainable results) stage.

What the BMD needs to do to attain the High Performance stage is to go back to what Dr. Allen calls the Stability stage and this it can achieve only if it goes back to the basics. In politics, going back to the basics simply requires party members and leaders alike to always demean their personal interests to those of the party.

If the BMD were in adherence to the basics it would not have allowed Advocate Pilane’s membership to divide it so grossly; it would not have allowed its Youth League and Women’s Wing to be moribund due to blind loyalty to individual leaders; and the NEC and the NWC would not have neglected to defer their differences to the Congress.

It is only selfishness which motivated the factions in the NEC and NWC to use technicalities to avoid the Special Congress, a Congress which, though it would have been convened for the Advocate Pilane matter, could have dealt with the issue of factions before they could erode the party’s integrity to this lamentable extent.

As Dr. Allen said, “there is no magic in moving beyond chaos. There are no simple formulas. Real organizational development requires commitment and hard work…” This is what the BMD needs, not the legal technicalities its leaders are currently engaged in. The BMD needs the commitment and hard work which the BCP, no doubt, faced as a result of the seemingly insurmountable challenges which it faced, but triumphed over because of sticking to the basics by demeaning personal interests to those of the party.   

Granted, the BCP has been in existence for many years, it being in its 19th year of existence while the BMD is only in its 7th year of existence. But, seven years of existence, especially for a political party whose founders and leaders were from a ruling party and who were MPs, are enough for the political party to have graduated from the Chaos or fire-fighting stage.

Clearly, the BMD needs to borrow a leaf from the BCP, at least in such areas as discipline, respect for leadership, and inner party democracy. It is this leaf which has assisted the BCP to, despite facing such challenges as the ones discussed above, remain united, with peace and stability reigning within its structures.

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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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