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The making of a president: HH Mokgweetsi Masisi

Ndulamo Anthony Morima


The recent victory by His Honour the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, in which he retained the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairpersonship and his entire lobby list made it into the Central Committee almost secures his position as the next president of the Republic of Botswana.


Having earned the BDP chairpersonship, it seems to me that president Khama has no option but to retain HH Masisi as vice president until he retires in March 2018, constitutionally entitling HH Masisi to automatically succeed him as president and remain in office until the October 2019 general elections. Considering his control of the BDP, barring the BDP’s defeat at the hands of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in 2019, which is not unlikely, HH Masisi is also assured of the presidency after the October 2019 general elections which will see him remain in office at least until March 2024.    


In this article, we discuss the making of Masisi as a president. Though he lost the BDP primary elections for the Moshupa constituency in 2004, he won the 2009 primaries and went on to win the general elections, becoming the constituency’s Member of Parliament (MP).  Immediately after becoming an MP he was, in October 2009, appointed Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. In January 2011, a little over a year after being appointed Assistant Minister, he was appointed Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.


Though he led a relatively good poverty eradication campaign while at Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, something which inarguably endeared him to President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, he lost favour especially with trade unions which believed that his poor handling of salary negotiations led to the 2011 public sector strikes.


In April 2014 he was appointed acting Minister of Education and Skills Development. In the run up to the October 2014 general elections the media blamed him for being the architect of government’s decision to starve private media of government advertising. He was also said to be at the centre of BDP’s decision to boycott Gabz Fm constituency debates.


At this time, HH Masisi, whose reputation had further been tainted by a video in which he professed to be a boot licker, i.e. lelope, was public enemy number one. The emergence of a video in which he stated that the BDP should lead Gabz Fm into believing that it will participate in its constituency debates while it (BDP) knows that it won’t did not help the situation. 


Despite an onslaught by the media, civil society and trade unions, with Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) including him in its ‘hit list’ for the 2014 general elections, HH Masisi was re-elected with a huge margin as an MP for the Moshupa-Manyana constituency. On 28th October 2014 HH Masisi was appointed as Minister of Education and Skills Development. This gave solace to his detractors who thought that he was out of the race for the vice presidency.


Against expectation, HH Masisi was, on 12th November 2014, elected Vice President after an unexpected nomination by President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama. He, however, continued serving as Minister of Education and Skills Development. Despite his ascendance to the vice presidency HH Masisi remained unpopular. Even in his party, the BDP, he faced opposition, with some party stalwarts believing that he got the vice presidency on a silver platter because he was not seasoned in the traditions of the BDP, him having never held a leadership position in the party.


Some in the BDP believe that it is these stalwarts, led by the former Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Margaret Nasha, who led the crusade for elections for the Vice President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly to be by secret ballot hoping that BDP MPs will not vote for HH Masisi. In fact, some in the BDP claimed that president Khama nominated HH Masisi for the vice presidency despite losing the popularity poll conducted by president Khama to determine who would be the best nominee for the vice presidency.


So rife were allegations of his unpopularity that there were rumours that president Khama threatened that if the BDP MPs did not elect HH Masisi as vice president he would dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections. There is, therefore, a view that many BDP MPs voted for HH Masisi not because they wanted to, but because of the fear of fresh elections which they feared they would lose considering the UDC’s remarkable performance and the political atmosphere at the time. 


Consequently, president Khama’s efforts to have Masisi unchallenged for the chairmanship position in the 2015 Central Committee elections were futile. In an unprecedented development he was challenged by five candidates, but won with a healthy margin, though his preferred candidate for the Secretary Generalship lost to the then popular Botsalo Ntuane.

HH Masisi was undeterred by Ntuane’s popularity. Just like president Khama did not work with his then popular Secretary General, the late Gomolemo Motswaledi after the July 2009 Central Committee elections, Masisi sidelined Ntuane, choosing instead to work with Communications Chairman, Thapelo Pabalinga.

 

Perhaps in an effort to prove his detractors wrong, HH Masisi led a recruitment campaign which targeted members from the Opposition. His biggest victim is the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) from which he poached its Youth League President, Lotty Manyepedza, Secretary General, Thato Osupile, and 2014 Nata-Gweta constituency candidate, Ditiro Majadibodu, among others.

 

Despite him seemingly proving his political astuteness as aforesaid he still faced opposition in the run up to the 2017 Central Committee elections. This time he seemed to be facing an indomitable opponent, Honourable Nonofo Molefhi. Honourable Molefhi seemed to be so unconquerable that there were rumours that president Khama lobbied HH Masisi not to contest the chairpersonship, urging him to give precedence to party unity and his duties as vice president.

 

So resolute was HH Masisi that he, it is reported, declined president Khama’s proposal. Then came former Secretary General, Jacob Nkate, who, it is reported, after HH Masisi realized he harbored presidential ambitions dropped him from his lobby list as Secretary General and brought in another former Secretary General, Mpho Balopi.

 

Even when the Molefhi campaign seemed to make headway HH Masisi did not relent. He stood by his campaign team despite reports that it was losing ground. His faith in his team was rewarded when he and his entire lobby list won the Central Committee elections with resounding majorities. So, at the beginning of his political career HH Masisi suffered defeat and fell, but rose up, tried again and emerged victorious the second time around. Since his election by his people he has not neglected them, not even when he was appointed vice president. This is the making of a president.

 

He has always gone back to his constituency; he meets his people at the people’s parliament-the Kgotla; he gives his people cattle as presents; he speaks his mother tongue with admirable proficiency; he is approachable. This is the making of a president. Throughout his political career he has faced warranted challenge from his fellow BDP colleagues, the media, civil society and trade unions, but has remained steadfast in his beliefs, no matter how wrong and ill-advised they are. This is not the making of a president.

 

He has contributed to the decline of media freedom; he has been instrumental in the development of such ineffective programmes as the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) and Constituency Funding; and he has contributed to the attrition of labour rights and welfare. This is not the making of a president. As a political deployee he has defended his political party at all costs. This makes a good party president, but does not make a good state president for a good state president should demean the interests of his or her political party to those of the state.

 

As an appointee of the president he has served him with loyalty and distinction, at least in as far as the president himself is concerned. In order to become a good state president HH Masisi ought to translate this loyalty to loyalty to the Constitution when he assumes the presidency. Yet, even with his iniquities the political journey that HH Masisi has already voyaged is that of the making of a president for he will be president in any event even if it may be for only one year seven months.

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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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