When in 1989, my English teacher, ‘Chester Makhandamahlano’, taught us Francis Carey Slater’s poem, ‘Lament for a Dead Cow’, I never thought it will have as much resonance as it does today in relation to the state of my country, Botswana.
Like Makhandamahlano’s voice echoed in that classroom, we lament for our dying cow, Botswana. Siyalila, siyalila, inkomo yetu ifile! Beautiful was Wetu, our beloved Botswana, as a blue shadow that nests on the grey rocks. Botswana’s beauty was like a bird that nests. Its beauty evoked in us, Batswana, a feeling of closeness and pride. It made Botswana one with nature. Botswana, like Wetu, was indeed fertile. Like a sunbaked hilltop Botswana’s warmth and glow was so comforting.
In that, our Botswana, It mattered not which political party you belonged to. You could not be denied career progression simply because you belong to the Opposition. Yet, Nelson Ramaotwana was denied appointment as a Senior Magistrate simply because he is a member of the Botswana National Front (BNF).
This, unfortunately, is our new Botswana. In this our dying Botswana one can be recommended to be judge by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) as far back as 2015 only to be reluctantly appointed in 2017 following a Court Order. Today, where we lament the dying of our Wetu the president can even neglect to implement a decision of the Court of Appeal (CoA) until there is further litigation. This is the plight that Attorney Omphemetse Motumise suffered at the hands of President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
Botswana’s coat was as black and shiny as an isipingo berry. It clothed all of us regardless of our opinions or political affiliation. Though opposed to the ruling party, such people as Dr. Kenneth Koma, Maitshwarelo Dabutha and Paul Rantao never feared for their lives. No! They feared not for they felt protected by this coat. Though Koma was associated with Communism he was not assassinated. Yet, in 2014, there were reports of threats to the lives of such Opposition leaders as Advocate Duma Boko and Honourable Ndaba Gaolathe.
Though there is no evidence that the late Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) leader, Gomolemo Motswaledi, was assassinated, the mere fact that when he died from a car accident in 2014 there were allegations that he was assassinated is troubling. Attorney Dick Bayford’s life was in danger simply because he is a champion for human rights. He was regarded as a pest for his efforts to bring government to account for such diabolic deeds as the extra judicial killing of the late John Kalafatis who was assassinated by our security forces.
Like Wetu’s, Botswana’s horns were as sharp as the horns of the new moon. Her horns punctured such cancers as corruption, economic crime and maladministration. She tossed aloft such vices like the horns of the new moon would toss aloft the evening star. Yet, today corruption thrives. Such programmes as the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) have not brought any change to our people’s lives not only because they are ill informed, but also because the tenders therefrom are not awarded on merit, but on partisanship. It is Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) functionaries who are awarded such tenders.
Her round eyes were as clear and soft as a mountain pool where shadows dive from the high rocks. Her record of good governance was as clear as the dark colour of the water. It was so clear that it did not require hundreds of Public Relations Officers to defend it on a daily basis. It did not require a Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President to literally edit Botswana Television, Radio Botswana and Botswana Daily News programmes and news in order to vilify the Opposition and laud the ruling BDP.
Wetu is dying. No more will she banish teasing flies with her whistling tail. Her tail’s whistle has been muted. Such ‘annoying flies’ as Robert ‘the angel Gabriel’ Mugabe of Zimbabwe now tease Botswana and compare her to their failed states. No more will Botswana face yapping curs. Botswana’s horns are no more. No more will she, with those lowered horns and bewildered eyes, bring African dictatorships to book for if she does she will be reminded of her dirty linen.
She will be reminded of the thousands of politically motivated deportations; the extra-judicial killings by security forces; the denigration of minority tribe rights; the denial of such minority rights as same-sex rights; and the BDP’s monopoly of state media, to mention but just a few. No more will Botswana’s slow shadow comfort the sunburnt veld. No more will her sanity bring coolness to the patch of land she is grazing. This patch, Africa, used to admire Botswana as a shining example of democracy.
Botswana mediated in disputes around the continent not because of her military might but because of her moral authority. The late Sir Ketumile Masire got his nick name ‘MaZaire’ because of his and Botswana’s role in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Botswana assisted Lesotho avert a civil war not because she has ever been to war, but because she was the best example of avoiding war, conflict and civil strife. She was the epitome of peace and stability in a continent where these are lacking.
No more will Botswana’s sweet lowing delight the hills in the evening. Botswana, the fountain that filled our calabashes with freedom of association and freedom of conscience, has been drained by a thirsty sun, dictatorship. Today, some private media houses are starved of government advertising as a punishment for bringing government to account. Were it not of our courts such of our journalists as Joshua Ntopolelang would have been transferred to departments whose mandate they no nothing or very little about.
Were it not for such erudite human rights attorneys as Dick Bayford, Outsa Mokone, one of the best journalists this world has ever had, would be languishing in prison. We have been inducted into the notorious hall of notoriety of countries whose journalists have fled into exile. Mokone’s former reporter, Edgar Tsimane, has had to flee to South Africa in view of the sedition charges he and Mokone were facing.
The black cloud that brought us white rain has vanished – the sky is empty. The black cloud that now lingers over us is not a rain cloud but the curse of bad governance. Trade unionists are persecuted for fighting for workers’ rights. While some such as Botswana Land Board & Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU)’s Secretary General, Cde Mogomotsi Motshegwa, have been dismissed, others, such as Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) President, Cde Johannes Tshukudu, could have been transferred to departments at which they would have become obsolete were it not for the intervention of the courts.
Teaching has been declared an essential service simply because government wants to, by taking aware the teachers’ right to strike, weaken public service trade unions in the event they embark on a strike as they did in 2011. Our kraal is desolate. Our kraal is empty because we slaughter our fertile cows and keep the barren. We deny our public servants promotions simply because they do not share our political affinity. We make promotions not based on merit, but on such irrelevant considerations as nepotism and political affiliation.
Our calabashes are dry. Our parastals and other statutory bodies are littered with incompetent people whose only lifeline is BDP membership. As if we have shortage of personnel, one person can be a member of five boards for these parastals and other statutory bodies. The late Sir Seretse Khama once said: "Democracy, like a little plant, does not grow or develop on its own. It must be nursed and nurtured if it is to grow and flourish. It must be believed in and practiced if it is to be appreciated. And it must be fought for and defended if it is to survive. "
If his words were honored our Wetu would not be dead and we will not be weeping! If his words were honored the words "Lefatshe ke kereke yame. Go dira molemo tumelo yame” meaning “The world is my church. To do good my religion", which are said to be inscribed on his grave, would not have been in vain.
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”!