Sir Ketumile Marise’s send-off gave some sections of Batswana the opportunity to take a deep reflection on the country’s current state of affairs. In particular, the occasion provided a rare moment for some members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to vent out their frustrations on the way the country and their party is being governed.
BDP political stalwarts like Daniel Kwelagobe took the lead in their public outcry. When paying tribute to Sir Ketumile the former Secretary General and later Chairperson of the ruling party made reference to the famous Biblical message which talks about cross roads. By way of paraphrasing, it says that when you realise that you have lost the road, you must go back to the crossroads to chart the right path.
Kwelagobe is not the only one in the BDP who has expressed serious concerns over the state of affairs in the country. The former President Festus Mogae has once expressed his views over the deterioration of the rule of law, a critical tenet of democracy.
Last week we talked about Masire’s parting shot aimed at the controversial introduction of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Following Masire’s footsteps Kwelagobe made his views against EVMs publicly known. Not to be left behind religious organizations also advised government against the EVMs. In his pastoral letter Bishop Valentine Seane of the Catholic Church was unequivocal in his rejection of the EVMs.
To many Batswana across the political divide the EVM will turn out to be the last straw that will break the camel’s back. Its suspicious intentions, its timing and the manner in which the bill was introduced got many people talking. In particular, lack of consultation and rushing the passing of the bill in the middle of the night was yet another example that the country has gone astray.
Another Bill that was introduced in a similar manner was the Presidential Retirement Bill. Parliament stayed overnight to make sure that they passed a bill that will virtually give the next retired president everything that he ever dreamed of as a young person. Ian Khama will get all the things he needed in life not through hard work but by an accident of history. Upon retirement Khama will be the envy of successful hardworking business people like Rre David Magang and Satar Dada.
As if this was not enough Khama recently issued a Presidential Directive to hand over Air Botswana (the national airline) to Wilderness Safaris, a company in which he has vested business interest. Had Wilderness Safaris not somersaulted it was a done deal. Media reports indicate that Khama may not have given up on the weird idea of directly benefiting from the sale of Air Botswana.
The above examples are clear indications that under the moribund BDP, Botswana has been reduced to a banana republic. This country is only a democracy only in so far as it holds regular elections every five years. It is the type of democracy that begins and ends on the day of elections.
Where did we go wrong, is the big question. According to Kwelagobe the crossroads is where consultation became a thing of the past. Since the statement was made at the funeral of an elder statesman, he focused on lack of consultation of the party elders. Consulting the elders on matters of national interest is necessary but not sufficient. In a true democracy the critical point is to consistently consult with the voters on matters that affect them.
Another point raised by Kwelagobe to drive his point home was the closure of mines. BCL Mine in particular was closed under suspicious circumstances resulting in the loss of 6000 jobs. In my recollection it was the most ruthless decision ever taken by an elected government against citizens in the history of Botswana.
Following Kwelagobe’s utterances Kabo Morwaeng who is a member of the BDP Election Board ventured into the issue of returning the party and government back to cross roads. In his narrow view returning to crossroads was about improving the management of primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe.
It is generally believed that Kwelagobe’s views were directed at President Khama. However, some have ventured to think that it is Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi who must take note of the clarion call as President in waiting. This is informed by the fact that Khama is increasingly becoming a lame duck president as focus shifts to Masisi. Besides he does not possess the requisite inclination to change his trajectory. For him a call for the return to cross roads is too little too late.
We should not lose sight of the fact that it was the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) that warned Batswana against the path the BDP had chosen under the Khama administration. In 2008 the title of the BCP/BAM joint Manifesto was entitled “A Nation at Cross roads: Which Way Now – Democracy and Prosperity or Dictatorship and Economic Collapse.”
Our prediction of a bleak future coincided with the reign of Khama as President of Botswana. Excitement among the general population was unprecedented. There was a great sense of optimism. It was anticipated that when Khama leaves office in 2018 Botswana will be in the same league with countries like Dubai and Singapore.
Borrowing a leaf from David Magang many had anticipated that Khama was destined to become the benevolent dictator. Even the best economists never thought that a country like Rwanda could become an economic success story from Africa ahead of Botswana.
One of the major deviations from a promising developmental path was the introduction of the so-called 4Ds (Democracy, Development, Dignity, and Discipline) which later became five. The four national principles of Democracy, Development, Self-Reliance, and Unity were seriously undermined by Khama’s political slogans in the form of the 4Ds. As expected everybody within the system jumped into the bandwagon to please the President and secure their “entitlements”. The four national principles took a back seat. This was a huge setback for Botswana.
As Khama approaches the end of his term in office, not many Batswana will remember his political slogans that were parroted as national principles. They have ceased to be a feature of the official statements. Even the originator of the Ds hardly mentions them in his frequent address of kgotla meetings. Returning to cross roads must entail the revival of national principles.
Almost ten years after the BCP’s prophetic message Botswana of today has shifted from its core democratic values. Under the corrupt-ridden BDP, authoritarianism reigns. The economy is under intensive care. To call it a government of thieves, by thieves for thieves is a serious underestimation. The painful truth is that BCP has been vindicated.
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.
… 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.
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”!