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Inanna Is Queen!

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER   

Jehovah’s granddaughter given dominion over Indus Valley in today’s Central Asia

The MEs were the equivalent of the proverbial Rosetta Stone. When one had the MEs in their hands, or had knowledge of how they could be decrypted into everyday use, it was like they were the keystone to every mystery. It was the reason the possession of the MEs conferred a new name suffixed by the very term ME. For example, Adapa, who Enki had taught how to decipher the MEs, earned himself another name – NunME.

When Ninurta requested 50 MEs from Enki, this was only for a limited scope of purposes – mathematics, smithing, pottery, brewing, manufacturing wheels and wagons, and enacting laws basically. But the haul Inanna went away with – in excess of 100 MEs – was virtually the whole caboodle.  The Inanna steal comprised MEs for “Lordship … Godship, the Exalted Sceptre and Staff, the Enduring Tiara, the Throne of Kingship , the Exalted Shrine, and Righteous Rulership.” There were MEs  “embracing the functions and attributes of a Divine Lady, her temple and rituals, its priests, eunuchs, and prostitutes; lovedressing; statecraft; justice and courts; music and arts; masonry; woodworking and metal working; precious stones; leatherwork and weaving; scribeship and mathematics; and last but not least, weapons and the art of warfare” – all the essentials of a high civilisation.

Such a ME endowment made Inanna potentially the most powerful and efficacious Anunnaki on the planet as almost nothing was unattainable to her. Imagine, Enki had never even allowed himself to confer such seamless power on his own sons: not Marduk, not Nergal, not Ningishzidda. Thus when he regained his senses and realised the enormity of the blunder he had committed, he immediately ordered his chamberlain Isimud to go after Inanna with a deputation of sheriffs. Being the Anunnaki’s greatest engineer, Enki had the fastest flying saucer on the planet.

The saucer touched down on the runway of the Eanna, Inanna’s plush residence in Uruk, just as she was disembarking from her own craft. She was just emerging from the restroom when she was set upon by Isimud’s sheriffs, handcuffed, whisked to Enki’s saucer, and flown back to Eridu.   

This time around, Enki was in no mirthful mood. With his tall and still dignified form bearing down on a diminutive Inanna, he demanded that she return the MEs she had coaxed out of him whilst he was in a kind of drunken stupor. “In the name of King Anu and on my own behalf, I command you the MEs to return,” a now fully sober Enki thundered. But Inanna had outwitted the Anunnaki’s greatest intellect: in the brief period she had been inside the Eanna, she had passed the MEs over to her foreign affairs secretary Ninshubur and instructed him to practically vanish into thin air.   But Enki was having none of what to him was a cock-and-bull story.  He immediately had Inanna locked up till she produced Ninshubur along with the MEs.

Meanwhile, Ninshubur had informed Enlil on the fate of Inanna. Soon Enlil had jetted over and was sitting across from his forlorn and fuming step-brother with an expressionless Inanna standing by in manacles.  After Enki explained all that had transpired to his brother, Enlil proceeded to interrogate Inanna, who straightaway testified that, “By right the MEs I obtained; Enki in my hand placed them.” Having been done with Inanna, Enlil told Enki point-blank that he had no case. Inanna did not steal the MEs from him: he obligingly gave them to her. It was irrelevant that he did so whilst he was drunk on the very booze he was hosting her with for that matter, or that she used sex as a bait with which to soften him up. Clearly therefore, if Inanna were to be tried before an Anunnaki tribunal, she’d win the case hands down.   

“You are such easy pickings for them lasses my brother,” Enlil, who is known as Jehovah in the Bible, chided Enki as he rose to depart. “Just what is it with your penis that cannot keep it in a flaccid state at least momentarily? How come such an inconceivably gifted being as you are is so liable to suffer a brain freeze when you scent a woman? Women will be the cause of your eventual downfall Enki. Why can’t you make the slightest effort to emulate me at least morally? Since I married my wife Ninlil about 120 shars ago, I have never strayed, not once. It’s not impossible to tame a penis Enki no matter the ease with which blood rushes to it.”

Enki thought it was easier to give such advice than receive it. He refrained from vocalising the thought though. In any case, Enlil was laying it a little bit too thick. His own son, Nannar-Sin, had more than 80 children in total, all of whom bar three or so with concubines. But Sin had these children with an official harem, whereas Enki shagged anybody he fancied,   including daughters, daughters-in-law, granddaughters, and just about any willing beautiful lady who crossed his path.  

NEW EPOCH DAWNS FOR INANNA

Soon after Inanna’s fracas with Enki ended, she held an ME investiture ceremony at the Eanna, where she invited all the Anunnaki top brass who included Enki himself to come and toast to her  induction into high-stakes Anunnaki power politics. On hand to “fasten the divine ME attire about my body” was her paternal grandfather Enlil, the most powerful figure on the planet.

The ME attire was a ceremonial garb that was won as an aviational uniform by members of the royal Anunnaki who wielded at least a few MEs. It was won both in Earth’s skies and on long-haul voyages to other Solar System planets, Nibiru, and the far-flung regions of our immediate cosmic neighbourhood such as the Sirian and Orion star systems.    With 7 monarchical MEs in her possession and 94 various others for good measure, Inanna had more than qualified to take her place among the great Pantheon of 12.  

By virtue of her possession of the MEs, Inanna’s elevation to the zenith of the Anunnaki ranks, which had hitherto stalled dismally, and for which she huffed and puffed but all in vain, was instantaneous. Not only did she replace the aging Ninmah in the Council of the Twelve Top Anunnaki: she was also assigned the planet Venus as her celestial counterpart.  Venus was at various times prior the celestial counterpart of Enki initially and Ninmah latterly.  She also had previously shared the constellation Gemini with her twin-brother Utu-Shamash.

As the goddess of Uruk, over which she was patron for 1000 years, Inanna did not disappoint, what with the all-purpose MEs to bring about every facet of progress she desired. She so radically transformed and revolutionised the city-state that venerational  hymns were composed for her and sang on festive occasions.  A particularly popular hymn, which underlined her synonymity with the planet Venus – which is also known as the Morning Star or the Evening Star – went like this: “The holy one stands out in the clear sky.

Upon all the lands and all the people the goddess looks sweetly from heaven's midst …  At eve time a radiant star, a great light that fills the sky: The Lady of the Evening, Inanna, is lofty on the horizon.” Her abode, the Eanna, also earned itself Venus-related epithets. It was described, in song and verse, as “House full of brightness, a pure mountain, a shrine whose mouth opens at dawn and through which the firmament is made beautiful at night”.       

Meanwhile, the Inanna cult was in overdrive. A testament to this euphoric, if not delirious, state of affairs is  what Zechariah Sitchin highlights for  us as “an exquisitely carved alabaster vase from Uruk, one of the most prized objects in the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, which depicted a procession of worshippers, led by a giant-like naked king, bringing offerings to the ‘Mistress of Uruk’”, the latter being one of Inanna’s slew of titles. One panegyric, an all too fawning   stretch of the truth really,  put her on par with  Anu and  Enlil thus:  “In Heaven she is secure, the good ‘wild cow’ of Anu.  On Earth she is enduring, Mistress of the lands. From Eridu, she received the MEs: her godfather Enki presented them to her, Lordship and Kingship he placed in her hand. With Anu she takes her seat upon the great throne.

With Enlil she determines the fates in her land . In all the land, the black-headed people (Earthlings) assemble when abundance has been placed in the storehouses of Sumer … They bring disputes before her. She renders judgment to the evil and destroys the wicked.” All this undue exaltation was courtesy of Enki, whose act of  foolish indiscretion catapulted a woman of execrably loose morals, who thought with her snatch as opposed to her brains, to superstardom in the twinkling of an eye. Why Lord Enki? Why? This Earth, My Brother …

INANNA BAGS INDUS VALLEY AT LONG LAST

Circa 2900 BC, about a dozen or so years after Inanna made off with Enki’s MEs, the Anunnaki at long last decided to designate and urbanise a Third Region in addition to Sumer (The First Region) and Egypt (The Second Region). This was the Indus Valle civilisation, which flourished in the basins of the Indus River and encompassed much of today’s Pakistan, India, and northeastern Afghanistan. It is from the Indus River India derives its name.

The Indus region  had two  economic bastions that gave it vitality and the prestige that earned it the privilege  of modernisation.  This was Harappa, also known as Aratta,  in the northern highlands, and Mohenjo-Daro, also known as Zamash in the southern lowlands. In Sumerian times, however, the Indus Valley civilisation was generally referred to as “The Land of Aratta” or “The Domain of Aratta”, Aratta being its principal city and described in the Sumerian chronicles as “the capital of a land situated faraway in the eastern lands, beyond seven mountain ranges and beyond Anshan (northeastern Iran)”.

The Indus civilisation was entrusted to none other than Inanna in fulfilment of a pledge made to her by King Anu of Nibiru when he visited Earth in 3800 BC. This was a wait of exactly 900 Earth years but which in Anunnaki terms neatly amounted to a quarter of a shar –  a Nibiru  year which is equivalent to 3600 Earth years. It goes without saying that Inanna was over the moon. She straightaway unilaterally declared herself the Queen of Earth. "A Queen I am!" she tooted her own horn like the braggart and blabbermouth she naturally was. Was she deserving of such a lofty appellation?

In a sense she was. For starters, of the three major civilisations to date (there was a fourth, the Mayan civilisation in Mesoamerica which was engendered by Enki’s genius son Ningishzidda,  but it was not official), the Indus land mass was the most expansive geographically. It dwarfed Egypt and Sumer many times over. Secondly, it was ridiculously mineral-rich. “Zamash”, the alternative name for Mohenjo-Daro, meant “Land of Sixty Precious Stones”.

This was in addition to gold, silver, bronze, lead, carnelian, and lapis lazuli. Arguably no other region of the planet  was endowed with such a wide vista of minerals as the Domain of Aratta. Thirdly, it was a thriving agricultural hub, with grains being its chief crop and principal agricultural export. The “grain silos of Aratta” were folklore everywhere as indeed in Aratta, “wheat was growing of itself, beans were growing of themselves”.     

ENKI CRAFTS NEW LANGUAGE FOR ARATTA

With Inanna installed as the patron goddess of Aratta, Enlil  assigned Enki to devise a new language which would be unique to that region in line with the strategy of divide-and-rule that was instituted in the immediate wake of the Tower of Babel. “The Lord Enki, Lord of Wisdom, for the Third Region a changed tongue devised, a new kind of writing signs he for it fashioned,” the Sumerian texts confirm. “A tongue of man heretofore unknown, for Aratta Enki in his wisdom created.”  In so doing, Enki was not pandering to the Enlilite agenda for mankind: he was simply acting in obedience to Earth’s Chief Executive, which he was under obligation to.

At the same time, Inanna approached Enki with cap in hand to solicit for further MEs to help  her kickstart the Indus civilisation. Enki did not exactly snub her: all he did was tell her that the 100 MEs already in her possession sufficed – end of story. “But the ME's of civilised kingdoms for the Third Region Enki did not give. Let Inanna what for Unug-ki (Uruk) had obtained with the new region share, so did Enki declare.”

Meanwhile, Inanna became a “commuting goddess,” shuttling back and forth in her “Boat of Heaven” between Uruk in Sumer and Aratta in Central Asia. “In her skyship from Unug-ki to Aratta Inanna journeyed, over mountains and valleys she flew. The precious stones of Zamush she cherished, pure lapis lazuli with her to Unug-ki she carried.” Rather than establish a new HQ in her new and by far more prestigious fiefdom of Aratta, she opted to continue with Uruk as  her main base purely because of the sentimental value she attached to the Eanna, which was bequeathed to  her by King  Anu  and for which reason she was known as “Mistress of Anu”.

Inanna, already famed as the Goddess of War and the Goddess of Love (that is, love-making) would become known as Venus to the Romans, Aphrodite to the Greeks, Ashtoreth to the Egyptians, Astarte to the Canaanites and Hebrews, Ishtar to the Akkadians, and as Irnin or Anunitu (Beloved of Anu) to the Sumerians.  

INANNA HUMPS TWO KINGS

Now, Enmerkar was not simply a king ruling Uruk under the aegis of Inanna. He was also Inanna’s paramour – a sexual partner. Inanna  would in time bear Enmerkar a son  known as Lugalbanda. As Inanna’s beau and chief executive rolled into one, Enmerkar exerted a lot of influence over Inanna. A good round of sex that made her speak in tongues and issue a long, loud orgasmic squeal was enough to get Inanna to do your every bidding, including murder!  Now, Inanna had intended that Aratta be the equal of Uruk in civic status.

Thus when she was given charge of the Indus region, she immediately installed as King of Aratta a son Dumuzi had with an Earthling woman out of wedlock. But Enmerkar was not comfortable with this parity, more so that he was shafting the goddess and she and he were forever bound together by a son. What he didn’t know was that Inanna had not spared the King of Aratta either: she was shagging him too, her stepson, the main reason she repeatedly commuted between Uruk  and Aratta.

Anyhow, Enmerkar convinced Inanna that Aratta periodically pay tribute to Uruk in the form of precious stones being, so he argued,  of lesser standing than Uruk. “It was he who the wealth of Aratta coveted,” the Sumerian texts inform us. At  first,   the King of Aratta flashed the middle finger at Enmerkar. He bragged out to him that he could not push him around as he had the “blessed privilege”  of sleeping with the great goddess herself and that it was just a matter of time before Inanna moved in with her at Aratta.

This was his taunt to Enmerkar: “I will live with Inanna in the lapis-lazuli house in Aratta. I will lie with her sweetly on an ornate bed. As for you, you will gaze upon Inanna’s vulva only in a dream.” But with Enmerkar’s persistence coupled with Inanna’s spin on the matter, the King of Aratta did cave in at long last.  After all, he was giving not out of meagre resources but out of superabundance. Some of these Aratta minerals Enmerkar used to refurbish and further decorate the Eanna so that it was “worth of a goddess”.

Meanwhile, revolted by the unabashed  way (as if she had any scruples) with which  Inanna  was two-timing him with his opposite number in Aratta, Enmerkar reported her indiscretions to her parents, Sin (the future Allah of Islam) and Ningal, and her twin-brother Shamash. All  were mortified by, though not surprised at, Inanna’s double-dealing and took turns to scold her. Inanna’s response was as blunt as her very sexual shenanigans she was being accused of were overt. She wondered aloud to them who would take care of her sexual needs in the event she toured Aratta. “Who will plough the hillock of my vulva  for me? My vulva, a watered ground, who will place the ox there? Is it you Dad? Is it you Shamash?”

To Enmerkar, Inanna’s response, when it was conveyed to him, was like a dagger through the heart. But he should have known better: when was Inanna ever a paragon of virtue?  Whatever the case, Enmerkar was not fazed.  The King of Aratta remained in his cross-hairs. What would be his next course of action to further diminish his opposite number’s stature and further wound him psychologically?

NEXT WEEK:  DEBACLE OVER ARATTA

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Columns

Let’s Get BPO Industry Out of its Present Limbo

26th October 2020
Majakathata “Jax” Pheko

At an economically tumultuous juncture of our country’s history as we presently are, where unemployment has become something of a Gordian Knot conundrum, a promisingly ameliorational pursuit known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is well worth exploring as a salvavic option.

One pundit defines BPO as “a subset of outsourcing that involves contracting the operations and responsibilities for a particular business process to a third-party service provider.” Examples of BPO services, which invariably do not constitute a company’s core or primary mission, include inbound and outbound call centres, live chat, bookkeeping, web development, research marketing, accounting and finance, and after-hours call answering services. BPO is driven, fundamentally, by the imperative of cost-cutting and overrides national boundaries through the employment and deployment of technologies that make human and data communications easier, thus lending credence to the concept of the global village that is today’s world.

BPO had been in existence in its primordial form since as early as the 19th century but it was not until the 1980s that its latter-day incarnation loomed larger and the term outsourcing became part of daily business parlance. Today, every continent is into BPO, including the economic Dark Horse called Africa. The Global IT-BPO Outsourcing Deals Analysis segments BPO buyer regions into three categories. These are North and South America (42 percent); Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (35 percent); and Asia and Oceania 23 percent.

In a Third World country such as Botswana, overseas-oriented BPO is key to bringing in those paramount hard currencies besides engendering a radical turnaround in the all too dingy joblessness picture. But are we up to it folks? Have we gotten aboard the bandwagon or we are virtual spectators watching nonchalantly as the BPO locomotive streaks away at breakneck speed?

JAX’S FLASH-IN-THE-PAN SUCCESS

The extent to which BPO has taken root in Botswana is not apparent. The first time I heard of it was in August 2007, when the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA), then going by the name Botswana Training Authority (BOTA), put it on record at a one-day IFSC-organised conference that they were in the process of developing standards for the nascent BPO industry in Botswana whilst they benchmarked with Mauritius, the UK, and South Africa. Little, if anything at all, has been heard of their progress since.

In February 2018, The Botswana Guardian reported of the newly-established Direct BPO, a fully-owned subsidiary of Mascom, which was looking to employing 400 people at the very outset. Once again, details as to how Direct BPO, whose establishment coincided with Mascom’s 20-year anniversary, has fared to date remain sketchy.

Perhaps the most spectacular case of a BPO operation in Botswana was that of Oseg, a company begun by Majakathata Pheko, affectionately known as Jax, in 2003 under the Debtsolve franchise umbrella. Oseg, which comprised of three divisions, offered customer management and financial services solutions and operated out of Gaborone and Windhoek in Namibia, where it touted MTN as its principal client. Oseg did receivable management for local financial blue chips such as Barclays Bank, FNB, Bayport, MVA, Botswana Insurance Company, Letshego, and Standard Chartered, and in due course CEDA and Mascom. It also served the Australian offshore market. Its account receivable division was the biggest in Botswana, handling over 60,000 accounts and managing a portfolio of over P400 million.

At its height, Oseg employed 150 people and had spent over P15 million on cutting edge technology and manpower training. In 2007, Oseg was nominated for Best Non-European Contact Centre at the CCF Awards held that year in Birmingham, UK, the “Oscars of the industry”.

Then in 2016, the sky seemed to have fallen. Oseg found itself saddled with an odious P4.4 million debt, with its staff resultantly trimmed to just under 50. According to media reports, Jax pointed to his own bankrollers and their partners in the alleged crime as his rather devious saboteurs. “I have evidence that powerful people in the bank and a cabal of friends both inside and outside the bank were intentionally and aggressively looking for ways to weaken Oseg, tarnish its name and diminish its value as they were in the same competing business interests, in the call centre and the factoring business,” the then youthful entrepreneur, who was only 41 at the time, bemoaned.

Jax reported the matter to NBFIRA and what came of that, not to mention the continued viability of his business, I have not been able to establish. I just hope and trust that Jax personally weathered the tempest as I have it on good authority that he is doing fairly well.

BOTSWANA MISSING OUT ON DOLLAR-DENOMINATED BILLIONS

For emerging economies, and even peripheral Third World countries, the BPO business can be something of a gold mine. According to the latest McKinsey report, the global BPO industry is valued at $163 billon and is expected to grow at $183 billion by the year 2023.

In the Philippines, BPO, which began with a call centre setup way back in 1992, accounts for 11 percent of GDP, the single biggest contributor to the nation’s economic activity. It employs 1.3 million people in over 700 outsourcing companies. One company, called Teleperformance, alone employs 47,000 people in 21 sites. In 2019, the BPO sector generated revenues of the order of $26.3 billion.

In India, the BPO sector, now 30 years old, provides direct employment to 2 million people and indirect employment to 8 million. In 2019, the BPO income overall amounted to $8.6 billon.  In Mauritius, the ICT/BPO sector contributed 6 percent to GDP in 2019, representing a key driver of the Mauritian economy. The BPO sector is responsible for 53 percent of the 27,000 people employed in the ICT/BPO superstructure in 850 companies.

According to the Economic Development Board of Mauritius, leading multinationals such as Accenture, Huawei, Aspen Pharmacare and Allianz have back office operations in Mauritius. In addition, a number of international payroll companies currently use Mauritius as a service delivery centre.

Kenya is also looking to position itself as a hub for global digital BPO, notably through government promotion schemes such as Ajira. According to the ITC Authority of Kenya, the market size for online work was estimated to be $4.8 billion in 2016 and was projected to generate $15 billon by 2020. With only 7000 people employed in the BPO industry in the country, we are talking about a modest figure though it is still brisk compared to the rather lugubrious situation in Botswana. Clearly, there are billions in US dollar terms to be had in BPO and we are missing out on these big time.

MZANZI LEAVES BW IN THE DUST

Yet it is Big Brother next door from whom we have precious much to glean as he is our immediate competitor potentially in the BPO race. Remember, if our IFSC continues to flounder to date, it is largely on account of the fact that in Mzansi, we have a formidable rival right on our doorstep.

As we speak, the South African BPO sector is valued at $461 million going by the invariably authoritative McKinsey survey. It employs 270,000 people in six cities, a figure projected to more than double to 775,000 by 2030. Of the current total staff base, 65,000 serve international clients. That South Africa has made such enormous strides in the BPO arena is meritoriously earned and not simply fortuitous. It has been voted the second most attractive BPO location in the world for three years on the trot.

The South African BPO sector is tipped to grow by 3 percent per annum over the next three years, a rate which is in line with the trends in the global BPO space. There are currently over 100 local and international BPO providers operating in South Africa, with local players in the main serving large multinational customers. The industry’s key offshore business clientele is domiciled in English-speaking countries, notably the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, with 61 percent coming from the United Kingdom, 18 percent from the United States and Canada, and 11 percent from Australia.

In June this year, the $1.5 trillion-strong Amazon announced that it would be signing up a total of 3000 South Africans to help cater to its customers in North America and Europe, which is testament to the fact that the country’s BPO market continues to make waves in the Western world. If Jeff Bizos is impressed, you can count on the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg to follow suit too sooner rather than later.

A FORGONE OPPORTUNITY TO TURBO-CHARGE THE BPO INDUSTRY IN BOTSWANA

Empowerment Africa is an organisation that boasts a business network that enables established and emerging businesses to connect, partner, and create long-term value with Africa-based projects. With reportedly 3000 esteemed contacts, it liaises with governments, major corporations, and investors to facilitate business opportunities, deliver deal flow, and provide research across its network to the Empower Africa business community.

Empowerment Africa recommends seven countries in Africa with thriving outsourcing industries. They are Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, and Madagascar in that order. Botswana is conspicuous by its absence and that must be ample cause for concern to our Monetary Authorities, especially given that at least on paper, we are economically better off than three to four of these countries.

In 2015, Jax approached the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture and propositioned a joint partnership with Oseg in unlocking BPO potential in Botswana by looking at the public sector Debt Collection and Call Centre services for government. Jax reckoned that the total market for Receivables and Revenue collections sitting in Government and Parastatal organisations at the time amounted to over P3.5 billion, equivalent to 8% of the National Budget then. If the BPO sector was to be utilised to assist in collecting this debt, over 2700 jobs would be created.

Furthermore, considering that a typical government employee spent half the time attending to inquiries from members of the public, the exercise would result in improved efficiency delivery in government departments in addition to boosting government’s liquidity position.

This is what Jax said in a 50th independence anniversary publication in 2016 on the same subject. “Our estimations are that once all the collections work is outsourced, there is a potential to collect more than P100 million every month for the Government of Botswana.

The opportunity to create more than 2700 exists, which will help to mop out unemployed graduates and upskill them. The economic impact of 2700 jobs would support more than 15,000 people in the economy and also help to create jobs in other industries that support the BPO sector, and will stimulate the whole ICT sector. Over and above that, the outsourcing would stimulate the whole IT sector and help improve Botswana’s position as an ICT and Call Centre hub.”

Once again, I am not privy to what came of this proposition, but I am persuaded that had government acceded to it, the BPO business in the country would have quantum-leaped and we would today be waltzing on the proverbial Cloud 9 in terms of revenues generated. Even the road retarder Oseg encountered with its bankers would not have been a factor at all. As significant, we would in all probability have made it on Empowerment Africa’s short list for the continent’s pre-eminent BPO addresses.

THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF GOVERNMENT IN BOOSTING BPO FORTUNES

Granted, with the advent of the still latent E-Governance, the synergic potential with the Call Centre business is stupendous. As per Jax’s pitch to those who care to hear, “The outsourcing of the E-Governance and collections will greatly improve efficiency in service delivery in the government departments. Directing traffic and enquiries to a Call Centre would empower the BPO sector in such a way that would be able to help the public from all over the country from one central point 24 hours and 7 days week.

The Call Centres would also relieve Government of the pressure to develop brick and mortar representations/offices across the country. This would help to save billions of Pula as the public will be able to access the services from the comfort of their homes and villages. The Call Centre service would bridge the urban and rural division as everyone will now be able to access Government services and receive the same service.”

The real jackpot both to government and the broader citizenry, however, resides in the offshore market. With sales cycles in the BPO business taking up to 12 months, contracts typically run from five to seven years, which is sustained lucrativeness by any measure. It is in the direction of the overseas market that much of our energy should be focused, though wary that we do not recklessly neglect the domestic market, if we are to reinvigorate the BPO industry and get meaningful returns out of it.

Developed countries are all the more keen to outsource as one way to insulate their economies against severe hurt inflicted by globalwide economic tremors. For instance, it was thanks to offshore outsourcing that Australia so ably navigated the 2008 economic crisis. That year, IBM released a BPO report showing that 80% of Australian companies were willing to outsource from offshore companies to save 50% in expenses.

Here in Botswana, I would recommend that government be in the BPO vanguard by splashing on a whole host of catalytic factors. In South Africa, for instance, the Department of Industry, Trade and Competition devoted R1.3 billion between 2007 and 2018 to bolstering the BPO industry in one way or the other and committed a further R1.2 billion in 2019 alone, gestures which no doubt underlie the solid performance of the industry.

Even when the lockdowns were in progress, the industry was accorded essential services status so that it kept the momentum going. As if not to be outdone, the South African BPO industry body, Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA), has commendably done its part in aiding the growth of the industry by supporting skills development, sharing best practice, and providing its members with access to other business networks and associations that drive and influence the sector’s transition into the digital economy. In Mauritius, the Prime Minister himself, and not a man of lesser stature, directly oversees the BPO sector.

For Botswana to make a mark in the BPO arena, it has to build a reputation as a reliable, cost-effective, and high-quality destination for outsourced business services, attributes all of which South Africa excels in. In addition, South African BPO players provide higher-quality services owing to strength across five key areas: availability of skills, infrastructure, risk profile, business environment, and industry size. In Botswana, we will need to nurture some of these strengths with the instrumentality of government.

With the advent of COVID-19, it is of essence that traditional BPO providers build capabilities to enable rapid deployment and ramp-up of fully functional teams under crisis scenarios. Operational resilience, that is, the ability to pivot when an ordinarily disruptive set of circumstances hits, is key. South Africa demonstrated this capacity most eloquently when 90 percent of the workforce was able to switch to remote work in residential settings, when 50 percent of operations in key competing locations such as the Philippines and India came to a virtual standstill.

Lastly but by no means the least, a competitive currency is a reasonably efficacious undercutting strategy. In recent months, the South African Rand has significantly weakened against the US dollar, in which the cost of outsourcing is typically denominated, and this has enabled South African BPOs to compete more effectively with Asian offerings.

It concerns me that last year, the Pula appreciated by 1.6 percent against the SDR (Special Drawing Right), which is a compound of five currencies, namely the US dollar, the British Pound, the Euro, the Japanese Yen, and the Chinese Yuan. If that relatively ripped Pula trajectory persists, it will not help our BPO competitiveness at all Rre Moses Pelaelo.

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Cyrus Frees the Jews

26th October 2020
In 538 BC, Cyrus, ruler of the Persian Empire

Mighty Persian King ends Babylonian exile after 60 years

For all his euphoria and grandiose preparations for Nibiru King Anu’s prospective visit to Earth, General Atiku, Nebuchadnezzar didn’t live to savour this potentially highly momentous occasion. In fact, none of his next three bloodline successors were destined to witness up-close the return of the Planet of the Gods, as Nibiru was referred to in Sumerian and Egyptian chronicles.

Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC, having ruled for 43 years, missing Nibiru, which showed up circa 550 BC as we set down in The Earth Chronicles series, by a whisker. During the next 6 years, he had three successors in such an unconscionably short period of time. His immediate one was Merodach, his eldest son.

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Understanding Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework: Litigation

26th October 2020

In Botswana, the Trade Disputes Act, 2016 (“the Act”) provides the framework within which trade disputes are resolved. This framework hinges on four legs, namely mediation, arbitration, industrial action and litigation. In this four-part series, we discuss this framework.

In last week’s article, we discussed the third leg of Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework-industrial action. In this article, we discuss the fourth leg, namely litigation at the Industrial Court. The Act does not define the term litigation. Litigation is generally understood to mean a situation where parties to a trade dispute take their dispute to a court, in this case the Industrial Court, for determination by a judge.

Just like an arbitrator, a judge’s decision is binding on the parties though they can, of course, appeal it. However, while an arbitrator must be acceptable to both parties, a judge does not have to be acceptable to the parties. A party can, however, apply for the judges’ recusal from the case for such reasons as reasonable apprehension of bias.

Before discussing litigation at the Industrial Court, it is apposite that a brief background of the origins and evolution of the Industrial Court be given. The original Trade Disputes Act (No. 19/1982) provided for disputes to be adjudicated, inter alia, by a Permanent Arbitrator. This is confirmed in Veronica Moroka & 2 Others v The Attorney General and Another, Court of Appeal Civil Appeal No. CACGB-121-17 at para 11.

The Industrial Court replaced the institution of the Permanent Arbitrator (Dingake Collective Labour Law in Botswana 23) following the enactment of the Trade Disputes Act (No. 23/1997) which, as confirmed in the Veronica Moroka case supra, came into force on 9 October 1997.

As per Kirby JP, in the Veronica Moroka case supra, the Industrial Court’s status “as a court was uncertain and no provision was made for it to be served by a Registrar, with the usual powers and duties of such office”.

The Court of Appeal, in Botswana Railways Organization v Setsogo and Others, 1996 BLR 763 CA, remedied this defect. It held that the Industrial Court was not a mere statutory tribunal, but was, in line with Section 127(1) of the Constitution of Botswana, a subordinate court, having limited jurisdiction.

Following the change of the definition of subordinate court by Act 2/2002 to exclude the Industrial Court, along with the Court of Appeal, the High Court and a court martial, the Industrial Court became a superior court, albeit still with limited jurisdiction unlike the High Court, for instance, which has inherent unlimited jurisdiction.

Consequently, appeals from the Industrial Court were referred to the Court of Appeal. Perhaps most significantly, according to Veronica Moroka, Industrial Court judges were now, just like High Court judges, protected by, inter alia, security of tenure.

The Trade Disputes Act was further amended and replaced by the Trade Disputes Act, 2003 which commenced on 6 April 2004 as Act No. 15 of 2004. Section 16(8) of this Act provided for the appointment of the Registrar and an Assistant Registrar, but still had no section clothing them with specific powers.

It, through section 20(3), also bestowed, in the Court, the power to hear urgent applications and, in terms of section 18(1), the power to grant interdicts, thereby remedying the defects identified in Botswana Railways Organization v Setsogo & Others supra, but it still had no provision dealing with writs of execution and sales flowing therefrom.

In terms of section 18(1) of the Act, the Industrial Court’s jurisdiction includes the power to hear and determine all trade disputes except disputes of interest as well as, in terms of section 20(1) (b) of the Act, the power to interdict any unlawful industrial action and to grant general interdicts, declaratory orders or interim orders.

In terms of section 20(1) (c) of the Act, the Industrial Court is also clothed with the power to hear appeals and reviews of the decisions of mediators and arbitrators respectively. It, in terms of section 20(1) (d) of the Act, has the power to direct the Commissioner to assign a mediator to mediate a dispute if it is of the opinion that the matter has not been properly mediated or requires further mediation.

In terms of section 20(1) (e) of the Act, the Industrial Court also has the power to direct the Commissioner to refer a dispute that is before the Court for arbitration. In terms of section 20(1) (f) of the Act, it has the power to refer any matter to an expert and, at the Court’s discretion, to accept the expert’s report as evidence in the proceedings.

The Industrial Court also has the power to give such directions to parties to a trade dispute provided the object of such directions is the expedient and just hearing and determination or disposal of any dispute before it.

In terms of section 20(2) of the Act, any matter of law and any question as to whether a matter for determination is a matter of law or a matter of fact is decided by the presiding judge. In terms of section 20(3) of the Act, with respect to all issues other than those referred to under section 20 (2), the decision of the majority of the Court prevails.

Where there is no majority decision under section 20 (3), the decision of the judge prevails. In terms of section 24(2) of the Act, any interested party in any proceedings under the Act may appear by legal representation or may be represented by any other person so authorised by that party.

In terms of section 28(2) of the Act, a decision of the Industrial Court has the same force and effect as a decision of the High Court, and because, unlike South Africa, Botswana has no Labour Appeal Court, decisions of the Industrial Court, just like those of the High Court, are, in terms of section 20(5) of the Act, appealable to the highest court in the land, that is, the Court of Appeal.

The Trade Disputes Act went through another amendment in 2016. Section 14 of the Act ensures the continuation of the Industrial Court. It outlines its functions as the settlement of trade disputes as well as the securing and maintenance of good industrial relations in Botswana.

In terms of section 15(1) of the Act, the judges of the Industrial Court are appointed by the state President from among persons possessing the qualifications to be judges of the High Court as prescribed under section 96 of the Constitution.

In terms of section 15(2) of the Act, these judges are headed by the President of the Industrial Court designated by the state President from among the judges.

In terms of section 15(4) of the Act, a judge of the Industrial Court who is not a citizen of Botswana or who is not appointed on permanent and pensionable terms may be appointed on contract basis and is eligible for reappointment.

In terms of section 15(5) of the Act, Judges of the Industrial Court sit with two nominated members, one of whom is selected by the judge from among persons nominated by the organisation representing employees or trade unions in Botswana and the other selected by the judge from among persons nominated by the organisation representing employers in Botswana.

In terms of section 15(6) of the Act, where, for any reason, the nominated members are or either of them is absent for any part of the hearing of a trade dispute, the jurisdiction of the court may be exercised by the judge alone or with the remaining member of the Court, whichever the case may be, unless the judge, for good reason, decides that the hearing should be postponed.

In terms of section 18(1) of the Act, An Industrial Court judge vacates office on attaining the age of 70 years, provided that the state President may permit him or her to continue in office for such period as may be necessary to enable him or her to deliver judgment or to do any other thing in relation to proceedings that had commenced before him or her.

In terms of section 18(2) of the Act, in accordance with the provisions of the proviso to section 96(6) of the Constitution, a person appointed to act as an Industrial Court judge vacates that office on attaining the age of 75 years.

In terms of section 19(1) (a) and (b) of the Act, an Industrial Court judge may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind, or from any other cause or for serious misconduct.

In terms of section 19(2) of the Act, the power to remove an Industrial Court judge from office vests in the state President acting in accordance with the procedure provided under section 97 of the Constitution for the removal of High Court judges.

*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or  anmorima@gmail.com

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