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Nation coerced to donate to Khama

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)
BCP Deputy Leader

At one of a series of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Political Star Rallies Duma Gideon Boko the President of the UDC and Member of Parliament for Bonnington North launched a fears attack on President Seretse Khama Ian Khama for receiving donations from unsuspecting citizens without declaring them as the law dictates.  He further described the act by President as broad day-light theft.

What followed was robust national debate on the whole question of declaration of assets and liabilities in general and declaration of gifts in particular.  Apart from political point scoring here and there Batswana are more informed about the laws governing receipt of gifts by public servants as well as civil servants.

The background to all of these is that late last year government circulated a schedule for the Presidential tour to bid Batswana farewell as he prepares to leave office in April 2018. Subsequently Ministers, Members of Parliament from the ruling party accompanied by District Commissioners were deployed to address kgotla meetings the purpose of which was to inform people about the planned presidential tour. One of the objectives of the consultative meetings was to set up Gift Committees to mobilize communities to donate generously to the President for what he has done for the country during his ten year rule.

During his tenure Khama had great affinity to small settlements. He hardly visited medium to large villages. However upon realization that small villages are poverty stricken government deliberately targeted major centres for gift solicitation exercise.  Even Selibe Phikwe which the president never visited since the abrupt irrational closure of BCL Mine was not spared. There was even talk of boycotting the gift solicitation gathering masqueraded as a farewell event in Selibe Phikwe.  

Some Members Parliament went to the extent of organizing meetings in urban centres to mobilize residents of their respective constituencies working in towns.  Botlhogile Tshireletso Asistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development in particular had a radio spot announcement running for one of such meetings.  

According to Pono PPP Moatlhaodi, the former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and former Member of Parliament for Tonota at a meeting addressed by the area MP Thapelo Olopeng the twenty five wards in the village town were urged to commit to two cows each.  In other areas there were reports that members of Khama’s Regiment were being coerced to donate P200.00 per person.  

It was clearly a calculated move to begin the tour in Moshopa that falls under Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Masisi is the current area Member of Parliament and president in waiting. Apparently the idea was to set the bar for the rest to follow or do better.  This obviously put undue pressure on the rest of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leaders to be aggressive in their effort to live up to expectations of the incoming president.  With cabinet reshuffle looming come April 1st 2018, MPs felt obliged to do their best to catch the attention of Masisi. The same can be said about senior civil servants who wish to evade the axe in April.

Opinions are divided over the question of whether it is right or wrong for a person who holds public office to solicit gifts. As expected even the legal minds are not united on the matter. There are those who see nothing wrong for the President to receive gifts from adult citizens donating on their own volition. The argument is that when this happened during President Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae no one raised a finger.  They sense jealousy and mischief on the part of those who are very critical of the initiative. We are reminded that when BCP reported Khama to the Ombudsman over misuse of BDF Helicopters his supporters said the move was driven by jealousy and political expediency.

It is clear from the above description of how the gift solicitation adventure was rolled out that people are not necessarily donating out of their wish.  Citizens are clearly being coerced by the powers that be.  The fact that nobody raised the issue in the past is neither here nor there.  The current discussion must be understood in its context.  The environment under which Khama ruled is completely different from the times of the previous presidents. Today citizens are more enlightened about their rights and they demand accountability from political leadership. They also have various platforms to express their dissatisfaction through Facebook and private radio stations.

On the other hand Khama has been a divisive figure. He has polarised society into those who will die for him and those who hate him with a passion. The rest are in between.  He has presided over the most corrupt government than all the previous governments combined.  In a way he has tolerated and promoted corruption by undermining both the judiciary and oversight institutions.  He is still to fully account for his acquisition of land in Mosu in Boteti District and Ditseta Island in Shakawe.  Under his watch the country lost billions of pula over botched projects such as Morupule B and Palapye Glass Manufacturing.  That is why many Batswana strongly feel he does not deserve any rewards safe for his lucrative retirement package.

Michael Kitso Dingake the former Robben Island prisoner, Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central, and founding President of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) narrates an incident as an MP in which upon successfully assisting one of his constituents with employment terminal benefits from an exploitative employer the victim asked him to get a share of the cash as a token of appreciation.  He politely refused the gift insisting that it was his duty to help the citizen.  Dingake demonstrated humility and ethical leadership which is a rare trait among most of the current crop of BDP leaders. Today we have ruling elite that glorifies grabbing from the disempowered poor people.

Those who are vested with the law clearly believe that it is illegal for a public servant to actively solicit gifts from citizens. Hence Boko’s assertion that by receiving gifts without declaring them, the President may have broken the law and therefore deserves to be prosecuted.  Busang Manewe, one of the prominent local Lawyers and Joao Carlos Salbany, another respected attorney who served in this country for some years concur with Boko.

According to Salbany “Under the Penal Code (particularly Section 386 but also 384 and 99), the receipt of Gifts by government officials creates a presumption of corruption that such an official needs to rebut.” With respect to DCEC provisions Salbany posits that “The DCEC Act is different, however, it too prohibits the receipt of gifts in so far as they create presumption of corruption.” The less we talk about stage-managed gift solicitation kgotla events the better. 

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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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