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Abe Recalled to Sumer

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Abraham succeeds deceased brother Haran as Enlil’s prospective Shepherd-King
 

Whereas teenager Abraham went to India as an Enlilite, he for a period switched to being Enkite. It was during this phase of his life that his original name Ibru-um was corrupted to A-brahm, meaning “No longer a Brahmin” and Abram, meaning “Exalted Snake”. A question that could be reasonably posed is, was Abraham’s espousal of the Enkite cult a spontaneous desire or simply a necessary rite of passage? The answer is not an easy one but my inclination is toward the latter. That is because even his own father, Terah, had gone through the back-and-forth Enlilite-Enkite-Enlilite metamorphosis.   

If in India the religious sect  that held the most sway amongst the population was the Cult of the Snake, that is, that of Enkites,  Abraham must have deemed it essential, with his own father Terah in on the artifice for sure, to pose as an Enkite initially and then defect back to the Enlilites at the appointed time, with a mammoth “catch” from the Cult of the Snake in tow.  

Ultimately though, Abraham made an impact throughout the  Indian Empire. When he was about 16 years of age, he began to tour the satellite states of the empire, such as Afghanistan and Persia, for instance, to evangelise. And wherever he toured, he left a nucleus of the Hebrew people there to continue where he left off so that his message was not drowned out in the mists of time. In ancient Afghanistan for instance, a community of Hebrews sprang up in a place called Bactria, a mountainous region situated midway on the road to India.

They called themselves Juhuda or Jaguda, both of which very much rhyme with Yehuda, as the Jews are known in Hebrew. Thus it is that even today, the Persians (Iranians) of that region revere Abraham as the founder of their faith and as their mediator before God.  The Hindu god Brahmin is also said to be represented by Abraham or his father Terah/Krishna,  just as Jesus in Christianity is said to be the personification of God the Father.   

One record of an ancient Indian text highlights an accomplishment Abraham wrought as the spiritual leader of ancient India. This was the promotion of the institution of marriage in a place which under the godship of the dissolute Inanna-Ishtar was happily amoral. “The moral fall was rapid. The seers and sages lived apart from the masses. They seldom married and were mostly given to religious contemplation.

The masses, without proper light and leader, soon became vicious in the extreme. Rape, adultery, theft, etc., became quite common. Human nature ran wild. Brahma (Abraham) decided to reform and regenerate the people. He made the chief sages and seers to marry and mix with the people. Most refused to marry, but 30 agreed.”This was akin to the saga of Hosea, a prophet who was ordered by God (Ishkur-Adad) to marry a harlot (HOSEA 1:2-3), a subject pulpit men are always at pains to rationalise.

ABRAHAM HITCHES SARAH

It was whilst he was in India that Abraham got married to a woman known in the Bible as Sarah. Sarah in Hebrew means “princess”. Was the person who informed this title, Sarah herself, a princess? She was yes. Sarah was Abraham’s paternal sister. That is to say, the two had the same father, Terah, but different mothers. Terah married Sarah’s mother, Tohwait, when Abraham’s mother, Yahnu, died. As a daughter to Terah, who was once priest-king of the Indian kingdom of Dwaraka, Sarah was indeed a princess.

But there was another vein in which she was a princess.  Before Tohwait married Terah, she had been a queen in Egypt. Her first husband Intef the Elder, was the nomarch, or  governor,  of  the Egyptian province of Thebes. She married Terah after Intef died, which suggests that although she initially married an Egyptian royal, she was a Sumerian herself.   

Now, the Hebrew nobility (males),  like the Anunnaki, married within the family, not outside it. This was because kingship, or heirship,  was primarily passed through the female line, not the male line.  We know from biology that if there’s a positive trait within the family, the sex that best perpetuates it is the female. Females carry what is known as Mitochondria DNA (MtDNA).  Although scientists claim they amply understand its purpose, they actually do not, seemingly.  

Both males and females carry MtDNA, but only females pass it along to their kids. Thus if a dynasty wanted to keep their bloodline pure, it was essential that their marriages be with close relations, preferably a paternal half-sister, though cousins   and even full sisters also counted but only as a last resort.   

It was the half-sister wife  (Mohumagadi in Setswana) who produced  a heir, not any other wife. Even if there was a first wife who produced a boy child and the marriage to a half-sister came later, the first-born son could  not inherit since he did not arise from the half-sister. It was the prince who was sired through the half-sister who inherited.

Sarah’s original name according to Genesis was Sarai. Although this is true, it is not complete. Her full name was Saraisvati, meaning “Mother Sarai” or “Lady  Sarai”. That rings a bell doesn’t it? The Saraisvati is a major Indian river. The river was named after Sarah to honour her as   Terah’s/Krishna’s firstborn daughter and therefore the one who was going to carry the dynastic seed.

Since she was about ten years younger than Abraham, Sarah was not born in India but in Nippur. The Bible says she was 90 years old when she conceived her firstborn son Isaac and given that Abraham was born in 2123 BC, Sarah must have been born in 2113 BC. It was in 2113 BC Terah moved from Nippur to Ur, when Abraham was ten years old. Thus the fact that the Saraivasti River was named after Sarah implies that Terah, even when he moved from India to Nippur circa 2140 BC, was still held in high esteem in India as its spiritual leader.

Sarah studied in Uttara Kuru, as northern Afghanistan was then known. Uttara Kuru was a   great centre of learning and whilst there, Sarah excelled. Quite apart from the fact that she was a princess, Sarah gained renown as a staggeringly beautiful woman with a powerful intellect, extra qualities that wooed Abraham. It seems by hitching Sarah, Abraham beat his older brother Haran to it. Maybe he was not content to being second  in line to the succession: he wanted to be first. And the odds of supplanting his brother as first in line were boosted by marrying not only a half sister but the seniormost half-sister.

HEBREWS EMBED IN EGYPT AS HYKSOS

In India, the largest concentration of the Hebrews was in a place known as Maturea, the domain which Abraham directly ruled. Whilst Abraham was making waves in India, Enlil, the Bible’s main  Jehovah,  came up with some scheme. In Canaan, which was under Enlilite jurisdiction, there were just too many Canaanites, who were Enkites in religious orientation. Indeed, one reason Nabu, Marduk’s heir, was making propagandistic inroads in Canaan was because the place teemed with people who were inherently pro-Enkite.

The vast majority of the Canaanites were descendents of Canaan, who was Ham’s fourth son. It were Ham’s descendents who also dominated in Egypt. Enlil regarded the proliferation of Canaanites in Canaan as an invasion. So he too decided to launch a counter-invasion.  He contrived to have the Hebrews of Maturea leave India for Egypt under the pretext that they were expelled from there for one reason or the other. The strategy worked: the “expelled” Hebrews were warmly received in Egypt and allocated their own region which was called Goshen (Heliopolis). The Hebrew settlers gave it a new name – Maturea – to remind themselves that it was from India they came.

In his great 1830s work Anacalypsis, the religious historian Godfrey Higgins confirms the above subterfuge when he writes thus: “The tribe of Ioud (Jews) or the Brahmin Abraham, was expelled from or left the Maturea of the kingdom of Oude in India and, settling in Goshen, or the house of the Sun or Heliopolis in Egypt, gave it the name of the place which they had left in India, Maturea.”

Contrary to what the Bible says, the first Hebrews to settle in Egypt were not the family of Jacob. That came much later in the 1500s BC. The Hebrew community was already there as early as 2000 BC. In Egypt, the Hebrew community  called themselves Hyksos. Hyksos meant “Shepherd Princes”. Remember, to Enlil, his chosen people were all priests/princes metaphorically speaking: that was his propaganda pitch. In other words, his chosen people – the Jews – were the elite of the human race because he was the most powerful and therefore the most esteemed of the Earth-based gods.  It explains why the nation of Israel called themselves a “royal priesthood”.  Their   leader/king was known as the Righteous Shepherd or Shepherd King.      

ABRAHAM RETURNS TO SUMER

Sometime before 2096 BC, Haran, Abraham’s elder brother, died in Ur, where he was based along with his younger brother Nahor and his father Terah. Exactly how he died is not specified both in the Bible and the Sumerian chronicles. Since he died in his youth,  we can safely conclude that his death was of natural causes.

Although he was way south of age 30 when he passed on, he was already a father. Typically, ancient Hebrews married at age 18, though marriages at ages  16 and 24 were not uncommon. Since Haran was a royal, we can expect him to have married early enough, in all probability at age 18. Given that he was born in 2123 BC, the marriage then may have taken place in 2105 BC, with the firstborn coming in 2104 BC.  
 

Haran was survived by three children. If the three kids were from the same mother and were born two years apart, the last born must have arrived in 2100 BC. In view of the fact that he didn’t have another kid thereafter, we may suppose that it was death that prevented that from happening. Hence, Haran in all probability died in 2099 BC latest.

Haran’s three kids were a boy, Lot, and daughters Milcah and Iscah. According to the rules of succession, with Haran having passed on the heir to Terah automatically became Lot. Lot, however, was a kid of about 5 or 6 years; therefore, it fell to Abraham, Haran’s immediate younger brother, to  hold fort till Lot had reached the age of majority, that is, 16 years.

Now, Haran had been earmarked by Jehovah-Enlil as the Righteous-Shepherd proper of the Age of Aries – the instrument with which to fight Marduk. With his death, that void had to be filled immediately. Being too young, Lot was obviously out of contention. As such, the privilege  automatically fell to Abraham, who was about 24 years in 2099 BC. It emerges, therefore, that Abraham became Enlil’s foil against Marduk by default: it was thanks to his older brother’s death that he stepped into the breach.  

All in all, there were two factors at play here. First, there was the question of who would succeed after Terah. That was a right of birth and it was held by young Lot. Meanwhile, the older Abraham would stand in for Lot. Second, there was the matter of who would be Enlil’s Righteous Shepherd.  This was not a birthright: it was a privilege.  And with Haran deceased, Enlil had decided that that privilege should transfer not to Lot but to Abraham. The geopolitical situation presently was so tense that to wait for Lot to grow would be detrimental to Enlil’s strategic interests.

Thus it was that Terah, after deliberating with Enlil and Nannar-Sin, decided to recall Abraham from his base in India so he could be primed for much more critical and overriding responsibilities.  That was how Abraham departed India. From then henceforth, he would be based in Sumeria though he did undertake tours of duty to the Indian empire once in a while to keep his memory alive and therefore see to it that the legend lived on.

UR-NAMMU’S “MISSION TO KILL”COURTESY OF JEHOVAH

Meanwhile, Ur-Nammu, the King  both of Ur and greater Sumer since 2113 BC , was making waves.  During the eighteen years he was in power, Ur-Nammu was many things to many people. To some, he was a rare-breed king who brought peace  and prosperity to Sumer. To others, he was a bloodthirsty warrior king, a tyrant  who revelled  at causing death and destruction..

This antithesis  explains why some Sumerian sketches uncovered by archaeologists depict him banqueting and celebrating peace and prosperity, whilst others show him riding in the royal chariot at the head of a  military column of armed and helmeted soldiers, matching to the battlefield.

When  he was appointed King by Enlil (and installed by Nannar-Sin), Enlil’s central brief to him was thus: “As the Bull to crush the foreign lands.  As the Lion to hunt the sinners down; to destroy the evil cities. Clear them of opposition to the Lofty One.” Who were the  “sinners” and what were the “foreign lands” in the above statement? I call upon Christians to pay utmost attention as  we  explain these terms because the Christians concept of a sinner is not what the Bible intended. To Christians, a sinner is anybody  who has rejected God and who continues to defy God without being nagged by a sense of penitence or contrition.

In Old Testament times,  a sinner was an Earthling who followed Marduk in opposition to Enlil.  It was not about spirituality: it was purely about power politics.  So Enlil’s first instruction  to Ur-Nammu was to destroy Marduk’s followers because they had been rallied against the “Lofty One”, who in this context  was Enlil as Earth’s Commander-In-Chief. Ur-Nammu was to ferret out these sinners right in the “sinning” or “evil” cities and slaughter them. The cities referred to here are those that were predominantly pro-Marduk; had significant pockets of a Marduk following; or were presently been propagandised by Nabu to convert to Marduk.  All these cities, two of which were Sodom and Gommorrah, were to be destroyed, crushed.

The “foreign lands” were principally those in Europe, Syria, and Lebanon where the Amorites, Marduk’s Western followers,  abounded. All these were to be subdued and annihilated once and for all. In order to help Ur-Nammu swiftly accomplish these ends, Enlil provided him with what the Sumerian records describe as a “divine weapon”. With it, Ur-Nammu was to “heap up the rebels in piles”. The weapon lived up to its billing as  before long Ur-Nammu had subdued the Sumerian city-state of Lagash, which until now had been the mightiest of all, slain its governor, and overrun six other city-states. And in keeping with Enlil’s decree, Ur-Nammu’s military expeditions were to take him well beyond Sumer’s borders into the western lands.

Ur-Nammu was fighting with the spirit of a “Bull” – the  interests of the  Enlil-controlled astrological age of Taurus, which was symbolised by a bull – and that of a “Lion” –   the  Enlilites, whose ancestors in the Sirius star system evolved from a beast that was predominantly lion-like.

UR-NAMMU’S RELIGIOUS REVIVAL THRILLS  JEHOVAH

On balance, however, peace prevailed during Ur-Nammu’s reign. And in terms of religious, economic, and moral revival, Ur-Nammu left a lasting imprint on Sumer.  “All scholars agree that in virtually every way the Ur III period begun by Ur-Nammu attained new heights in the Sumerian civilisation,” writes Zechariah Sitchin. “It was Sumer's most glorious period.”The  Sumerian records attest as such. “Equity in the lands Ur-Nammu established, to violence and strife an end he made, in all the lands prosperity was abundant.”

For a long time now, injustice, oppression, and immorality had become the order of the day in Sumer. The temples had been neglected. The Ekur, Enlil’s temple-abode at Nippur, had remained in dereliction since its defacing and defiling by Naram-Sin.  One of the first things Ur-Nammu did was to restore, renovate and magnify all the gods’ temples except  that of Marduk in Babylon and that of Ninurta in Lagash (Marduk was an enemy and the brothers Ninurta and Nannar-Sin hardly got along).

Zechariah Sitchin again: “Ur-Nammu, in addition to the great works in Ur, also restored and enlarged the edifices dedicated to Anu and Inanna at Uruk, to Ninsun (his mother) at Ur, to Utu-Shamash at Larsa, to Ninharsag at Adab. He also engaged in some repair work at Eridu, Enki's city.” Ur-Nammu was commended by the gods for his devoted ecclesiastical works and to the extent where he celebrated his accomplishments in stone.

“Ur-Nammu marked the occasion (of rehabilitating the Ekur)  by erecting a stela, showing him carrying the tools and basket of a builder,” Sitchin relates. “When the work was completed, Enlil and (his spouse) Ninlil returned to Nippur to reside in their restored abode. ‘Enlil and Ninlil were happy there’, a Sumerian inscription stated.”

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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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