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Gaolathe & Pilane factions are irreconcilable!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Despite the holding of two parallel Congresses by the Gaolathe and Pilane factions of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), which resulted in the election of two National Executive Committees (NECs), some still believe that the two factions can still be reconciled.

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) also holds this view. In this article I argue that the two factions are beyond reconciliation. Their relationship has so irretrievably broken that an attempt to reconcile them can only be in vain. Below I advance the reasons for my view. Firstly, because of UDC’s inertia in mediating between the factions the differences worsened and are now of such a complexion that the two factions can only ‘reconcile’ to the detriment of the democratic project.

Because of the protracted conflict, dissonance has permeated all the party’s structures, the permeation being of such saturation that decontamination is almost impossible. Consequently, there is no Women’s Wing which could be invoking the women’s nurturing endowment to bring sanity to the party. There is no Youth League which could be using the exuberant spirit of the young lions to, even through misguided means, reign in the lions’ unrelenting and unforgiving fights. There are no elders who could be using their wisdom and often useful inertia to guide the party.     

Secondly, the BMD has been infiltrated by third forces. I am yet to be convinced that during the factions’ impasse, which has lasted since the party’s 2015 elective Congress, no third force has infiltrated the factions. As part of the UDC, which has a possibility of winning the 2019 general elections, the BMD is, no doubt, a target of malevolent forces. Though it has denied any involvement, it would be naivety indescribable to discount the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS)’s involvement in the debacle. Also, Business interests, even of a foreign nature, can only be discounted at one’s own peril.

It would be surprising if the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has not played a role in BMD’s conflicts. After all, it is the BMD split in 2010 which nearly led to the dethronement of the BDP during the 2014 general elections. It is because of the BMD, whose political ideology is closer to that of the BDP, that the BDP is continuing to lose its members to the UDC. The BDP would have to be in a stupor not to relish from the fodder that has become of the BMD since its 2015 elective Congress.

It is inconceivable that the BDP can only have targeted the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and left its prodigal son, the BMD unattended. It is idiocy indescribable to think that His Honour the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, has not identified the BMD as a likely obstacle to his presidency. Of course some third forces may not be as malevolent, but they too may have made reconciliation impossible, possibly because they believe their interests can only be better protected by one faction to the exclusion of the other.

These benevolent third forces include some media houses, some civil society organisations, some imminent individuals and, of course, some trade unions. It is common course that the latter have particular interest considering the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU)’s endorsement of the UDC. The rivalry between BOFEPUSU and its nemesis, the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), is also likely to have played a part in further alienating the BMD factions. There have been reports that BOFEPUSU and BOPEU funded the factions’events.

No wonder it has been reported that offers by both BOFEPUSU and BOPEU to mediate in the dispute between the two factions have been rejected by both factions, citing their partiality as an impediment to any mediatory role. Thirdly, this conflict has never been about ideas, but has, since the 2015 elective Congress, always been about party positions. This is not a battle for the soul of the party. It is a battle for the stomach. As I opined in last week’s article, it is unlikely that anyone of the leaders from the two factions would yield to reason, especially in view of the 2019 general elections where they expect to, as part of the UDC, ascend to the country’s vice presidency.

Even now when a split seems to be the only viable option, one of the reasons why such option is not being pursued by either faction is because of the fear of having to renegotiate constituency allocation. Not only that. There is also the fear of losing the UDC’s vice presidency. So, the fight for retaining the BMD and not forming a new political party by either faction is not about the party name, the constitution, the logo and the slogan. It is about constituencies and the vice presidency.    

As the late leader of the Botswana National Front (BNF), Dr. Kenneth Koma, used to say this is a case of hunters who fight over an animal before the animal has even been slaughtered. They seem to be oblivious of the fact that both of them may end up being losers because the animal may yet escape capture or slaughter. Fourthly, this conflict has also been aided and abetted by another UDC affiliate, the Botswana People’s Party (BPP), which has been reported to be aligned to the Gaolathe faction. There are reports that should the Gaolathe faction opt to form a new political party BPP would join it.

Fifthly, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), another UDC affiliate, may have also had a hand in the perpetuation of the BMD conflicts. It is reported that the BCP contends that its UDC membership has equal status with that of the BMD. This is why the BCP not only declined to have its leader, Dumelang Saleshando, being assigned the UDC Secretary Generalship, but wanted him to be vice president. It is also reported that the BCP could not even settle for the 2nd vice presidency, but wanted the vice presidency equivalent to that held by the BMD, arguing that they are not subordinate to the BMD.

Reportedly, the BCP leadership is not comfortable with Honourable Ndaba Gaolathe being BMD president. They prefer Sidney Pilane whom they believe can easily be defeated by their leader should a contest for the UDC vice presidency or presidency arise in future. If that is true it would not be improbable that they contributed to Gaolathe’s down fall, at least for now. It is because of the aforegoing that the holding of a new elective Congress as proposed by the Gaolathe faction has been out rightly rejected by the Pilane faction. This effectively means that the BMD will continue having two parallel NECs until one is set aside by the courts if one of the factions pursues the litigation route.

But, can any of the factions pursue litigation for such purpose? Even if the litigation route were pursued, can a court really order the holding of a new Congress? Even if such court order were issued, can it really be meaningfully implemented? Even if the court order were meaningfully implemented, can there ever be peace thereafter?

If the answer to any of the aforegoing questions is in the negative, the Gaolathe and Pilane factions are unlikely to be reconciled. As I argued in last week’s article, it seems to me that the only viable route is a split and the formation of a new political party, especially by the Gaolathe faction. I still reiterate my view that if the UDC is to stand a realistic chance of wrestling state power from the ruling BDP during the 2019 general elections, the new political party should be formed as early as now. Any further delays would adversely affect the UDC project since the BMD conflicts have started causing conflict in the BNF, with the BNF Youth League calling for actions which are reportedly inimical to the party’s July Conference resolution on the matter. Such conflicts would, no doubt, spill over to the BCP and BPP in due course.

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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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