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DCEC as good as disbanded

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)
BCP Deputy Leader

Reports that Rose Seretse Director of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has been unceremoniously deployed to a position in a newly established Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) is yet another sign of a country pushed by a desperate and corrupt ruling elite into unchartered waters.

In addition to the deployment of Seretse an elite DCEC investigation unit has been dismantled.  In particular Itumeleng Phuthego the Chief Investigations Officer and his team were targeted. According to media reports Phuthego was involved in the investigation of Prince Maele the Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services over his alleged involvement in acts of corruption. When news first surfaced it was alleged that Phuthego had leaked information around the case of Maele. So incensed was the Minister that he used government stationary and resources to defend himself over a matter that is private.

Apparently Phuthego and Seretse were collateral damage in a political battle between Carter Morupisi the Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President and Maele for the Lerala-Maunatlala constituency.  It is alleged that Phuthego is a close friend of Morupisi. This was strongly denied by government. To demonstrate that this was not the case the letter that suspended Phuthego was signed by Morupisi.

It is possible that the case of Maele was used to get at the Director of DCEC by the powers that be. Although Serete is related to President Seretse Khama Ian Khama by marriage she was at loggerhead with Isaac Kgosi the Director General of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).  Kgosi is a trusted allay of Khama.A few years ago DCEC investigated Kgosi over his alleged involvement in corruption and money laundering. He is alleged to have attempted to deposit cash amounting to P50 million into a local bank. Investigations were concluded and a docket was passed to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) for appropriate action.

According to the latest media reports Kgosi may never appear in court since government is working around the clock to kill his case. Deployment of Seretse and dismantling of a critical DECE investigation unit is viewed as an attempt to safe Kgosi from prosecution. For some reason Kgosi is a hot potato at government enclave. He is untouchable. Like the President of the Republic of Botswana, he is virtually immune to prosecution.  The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is alive to the fact that Kgosi is one of their biggest liabilities but they remain powerless to deal with him. It is the kind of baggage that Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi is prepared to inherit.  His exit from DIS is almost impossible because he knows where “all the bodies” are buried.

In the past the United States of America complained about lack of commitment by government to effectively fight money laundering. Like other oversight institutions Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) is toothless. Government is prepared to face sanctions by the international financial bodies than risk prosecuting Kgosi over alleged money laundering. Both Maele and Kgosi have denied any wrong doing. Surprisingly they appear to be unwilling to appear before a competent court of law, the only avenue to clear their names. Failure to appear before court will mean that they will face a court of public opinion that is grounded on the notion of guilty until proven innocent.

Before Maele and Kgosi three Ministers appeared before courts on corruption charges and emerged innocent. To his credit Ramadeluka Seretse the former Minister of Defence Justice and Security resigned his position to clear his name. The zero conviction rate in cases involving powerful political figures has always been of grief concern to us in the BCP. The view that Seretse is not suitable to lead DCEC because she is more of an engineer than an investigator is a lame argument. One can also argue that Kgosi is not qualified to head DIS because he is more of a low level auto mechanic than an investigator yet when he sneezes everyone at government enclave catches fever.

We are alive to the weakness of the piece of legislation that established DCEC ensuring that the outfit is placed under tight control of the executive arm of government.  It is a situation that is not uncommon across the continent. The laws that established anti-corruption watchdogs are deliberately watered down to protect the corrupt political elites or the “Big Fish” as they are popularly called. The victimization of Seretse comes after the victimization of Patrick L.O. Lumumba the former Director of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), Ibrahim Lamorde the chief of Nigerian Economic Finance Crimes Commission, Leonard McCarthy former head of Scorpions (Directorate of Special Operations) of South Africa, and George Siane the head of Zambian anti-corruption agency.  

Lumumba has since become the leading anti-corruption crusader across Africa. According to him Africans are involved in primitive accumulation of wealth. For example the estimated wealth of Mobutu Sese Seko the former president of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or Zaire as it was known during his time exceeded the total national wealth. This may be an exaggeration but it demonstrates the magnitude of corruption in Africa. Furthermore Lumumba says that the mortality of anti-corruption crusaders is high. Only those who pretend to be fighting corruption survive.

All eyes are on the newly appointed Director of DCEC to show whether he will fight or pretend to be fighting corruption. We are hopeful that the incoming Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) government will find all the files intact and fully accounted for.
The ruling party must not be deceived by the current skirmishes taking place at the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMC) and think that the UDC project has reached a dead end. The prophets of doom will be disappointed when the two warring groups embrace each other.  Both are well aware that the stakes are too high to go separate ways. After all they are Bakaulengwe now and in future. We all share the same vision for our beautiful country Botswana free of corruption.  

Botswana Congress Party (BCP) advocates for the independence of oversight institutions such as DCEC. The legislations that established oversight institutions require serious overhaul to make them truly independent and directly accountable to parliament. The position of Ombudsman should be enhanced by merging it with the office DCEC. Botswana can borrow a leaf from the South African institutional robustness. 

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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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