Hebrew general Abraham becomes the first Hykso Pharaoh in the land of the Enkites
Before Abraham, the crack Hebrew general, set out on an epoch-making campaign to conquer northern Egypt, Enlil, the Bible’s “Yahweh-Elohim”, meaning “Lord of the Anunnaki”, reiterated to him what was expected of him. First, he was to create a buffer zone between northern Egypt and Canaan. This would serve one major purpose – to deny the Enkites, who were being rallied by Marduk and Nabu, immediate access to the all-important spaceport at Tilmun in the Sinai Peninsula. The spaceport was the Enkites’ prize target, without which their rightful rule of the planet in the near-at-hand astrological Age of the Ram, would be nominal rather than substantive.
Since Canaan was under the godly jurisdiction of Nannar-Sin, Enlil’s second-born son, Abraham would be acting in the immediate interests of Sin, who in Canaan was simply known as El, meaning “Lord”. Hence the Enlilite buffer territory that Abraham would carve off from the Egyptian landmass would be known as I-sira-El, which translates to “Sin’s Shield”. Isn’t that so sweetly interesting folks?
It must be. When people read about Israel in the Bible, they automatically assume this is referring to the Palestine of first century times. One cannot fault them though as that is exactly the picture the Genesis authors wanted to portray as a kind of blindfold. The fact of the matter is that from the time of Abraham up to part of the time of David, the term Israel referred to northern Egypt. On the other hand, when the Bible uses the term “Egypt”, it is actually referring to southern Egypt, which being dominated by indigenous Egyptians was consequently referred to as “Upper Egypt”, meaning “Principal Egypt”.
The second brief Enlil reiterated to Abraham was that once he had taken northern Egypt, he was to introduce monotheism – the worship of only one clan of gods, the clan being that of Enlilites. Every Egyptian living in northern Egypt was to be converted to Enlilite allegiance both politically and religiously as the two were inter-twinned. Observes the notable Egyptologist Ralph Ellis: “This is the essential core conundrum of the three Judaic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).
These religions wanted to project a new, fresh image of a religion that was descended directly from ‘god’. However, the history of their peoples indicated strongly that they were descended from the pharaohs of Egypt, a nation that they had begun to despise because of the later treatment of the Israelites at the time of the exodus.
What were they to do? If they admitted that their patriarch was a pharaoh, they admitted that they were part of the very regime that had rejected them and sent them into exile, and which they now hated with an unbelievable passion. That was utterly unacceptable.” Once Abraham had fulfilled his assigned mission, he was to be installed as the Shepherd-King of the Hebrews with authority over all lands east of the Nile River all the way to the Euphrates River in Sumer. That was the reward promised him by Jehovah-Enlil.
GENERAL ABE’S TROJAN HORSE DEVICE
The conquest of northern Egypt by a “pale-skinned Asiatic race” known as Hyksos is well documented in ancient archives. But the role of Abraham in this regard is scarcely mentioned, if at all. This is because in Egypt, Abraham was known by a different name. This was Pharaoh Mehibre (“Mo-Hibiru”) Kheti. In Sumerian, this translated to “The Exalted Hebrew”. Remember, the name Abraham (Ibru-Um in Sumerian) as we demonstrated in earlier pieces was also rendered as Mo-Hibiru, meaning “The Main One of the Hebrew”, or in paraphrase, “The First Person of the City of Eber”, where he was born and bred. You will also remember that Abraham was “The Chosen One” in that he was Enlil’s choice for Shepherd-King of the astrological Age of Aries.
When historians relate the Hykso take-over of northern Egypt, they characterise it as an “influx”, a “sudden invasion”. That is far from the truth. Abraham, who was the Hykso leader, was of course armed to the teeth by his god Enlil. He was said to have “sophisticated weapons” that could “could smite an army of ten thousand men in hours.”But what made him seize northern Egypt with such ease was the overwhelming presence of the Hyksos, the progenitors of the children of Israel, in this part of Egypt.
The proliferation of the Hykso population in Egypt was a key component of Enlil’s long-term strategy to subdue Egypt, with the Hyksos having been planted in Egypt as early as 70 years before General Abraham’s forces laid siege. “Hyksos” was a term by which the Hebrews were known in Egypt. It meant “Elite Sheep” (Hyk-Ku) literally but “Shepherd Princes”figuratively”. In antiquity, sheep were known as “Ewes”, which is “Jews” in modern parlance. The sheep symbolism derived from the emblem of the forthcoming astrological Age of Aries, which was the Ram, a male sheep. The Hebrews were therefore designated by Enlil as the Elite Sheep of the Age of Sheep.
However, the Bantus, who dominated greater Egypt at the time, did not call them Hyksos: they called them the Akhu, or MaKgoa in Setswana. This was in mocking of their predominantly white, Caucasian skins, which made them turn red in the blazing Sahara sun. When they first arrived in Egypt whilst Abraham was Pope of India (under the pretext that they had been expelled from a part of that country known as Maturea), the Hyksos were allocated their own settlement in a corner of the ancient city of Heliopolis in the Nile Delta east of the Nile River. They renamed the settlement Maturea in honour of their place of origin in India. Maturea is today known as El Matareya and is part of Greater Cairo.
It was the massed presence of Hyksos in northern Egypt that Abraham utilised to full effect to overrun the region. The Hyksos were the Trojan Horse Abraham deployed to finally strike. They were the proverbial camel which after having been given shelter in a corner of the tent at long last ejected its Bedouin master to appropriate the entire tent to itself.
GENERAL ABE IS PHARAOH OF NORTHERN EGYPT
When Abraham’s forces thrust into northern Egypt, the city they first targeted was Memphis at the mouth of the Nile Delta, about 20 km south of today’s Cairo on the West bank of the Nile. Memphis was the strongest city in the region. It also had great religious symbolism being the bastion of Ptah worship, Ptah being the Egyptian name for Enki, the first god and ruler of Egypt for 9000 years before he handed over to firstborn son Marduk.
Having captured Memphis and effectively the whole of northern Egypt, Abraham declared Avaris, modern Tel El Daba, as the Hykso capital. He was then crowned as Pharaoh Mehibre Kheti of northern Egypt. This was toward the end of 2047 BC. Once again, Egypt was split into two nations, comprising of the Hykso-ruled north and the Hamitic-ruled south, with its capital at Thebes. The fact that Abraham was able to take northern Egypt in a matter of months and not over years as was typical in most wars of conquest testifies to just what a genius of a military strategist he was.
If there was one thing going for Abraham as the new ruler of northern Egypt, it was that unlike him, his wife Sarah was not a total stranger. If you recall, Sarah was the daughter of Terah’s second wife Tohwait, who before marrying Terah had been the wife of Intef the Elder, the departed nomarch or governor of the province of Thebes. In a way therefore, Abraham had a bit of legitimacy in Egypt. Be that as it may, to mainstream Egyptians, the Hyksos were usurpers. In time therefore, the name Hyksos was corrupted to Heqa Khasut, a derogatory term meaning “Occupying Rulers”.
What circumstantial evidence do we have that Abraham was indeed an Egyptian Pharaoh at some stage of his pilgrimage in life? There are several pointers to that effect but three particularly stand out. The first has to do with his concubine Hagar. The second is hinted in the name-title of his half-sister wife Sarah. The third is suggested by the name change on the part of Abraham.
PART-EVIDENCE THAT GENERAL ABE WAS AN EGYPTIAN PHARAOH
The Bible is categorical that Hagah was an Egyptian slave, a clear-cut confirmation that Abraham had a stint in Egypt: he didn’t need an Egyptian woman in Sumer, his traditional base. However, we should not take this statement at face-value as it is obviously loaded with prejudice. The Genesis writers, who were Jews, wanted to denigrate Hagar and therefore diminish her standing in the eyes of posterity given that it was through her that the Arab race, their mortal enemies, arose. It was a case of exalting Isaac, Sarah’s pre-eminent son, and scorning Ishmael, Hagar’s son and the direct progenitor of the Arab race.
For the fact of the matter is that Hagar was not a slave: she was part of the Egyptian aristocracy. A Pharaoh, as Abraham was, would never marry a slave. There were so many beautiful women of high social standing who the monarch Abraham would have chosen from. Thus the idea that Hagar was a slave is pure hogwash. Abraham hitched her with a view to curry political favour with the indigenous Egyptian nobility, whose blessings he desperately needed as an occupying ruler. In antiquity, it was typical of kings to marry purely for political and strategic reasons, with King Solomon being an outstanding case in point: he married from practically every nation on the globe.
In GENESIS 17:5, we’re told that Abram at long last had his name changed to Abraham, which the Bible defines as “Father of a Multitude”. This was to formally ordain him as the Father of the Nation of Israel. That, however, is the spin. It was not the real or fundamental reason the name was changed. The name change was tactical: it was meant to obscure Abraham’s connection to the throne of northern Egypt.
The subterfuge paid off rather handsomely as even today, very few historians are able to relate the name Pharaoh Mehibre to Abraham. Again because the Genesis writers wanted to sever completely Abraham’s royal connections with Egypt, they presented him as a simple Jewish shepherd when he was in fact a royal personage of high pedigree and an iconic military general who conquered the great land of Egypt.
The Egyptologist Ralph Ellis underscores the same point thus: “Pharaoh Mam-Aybre (another rendering of Mehibre) was a Hyksos Shepherd-King of Lower (that is, northern) Egypt, but the Israelites later despised the Egyptians and so Mam-Aybre’s pedigree was a bit of an embarrassment. But what should be done about this situation? The simple answer was to change the name Mam-Aybre to Abra-Ham and make him a pastoral ‘shepherd’ instead of a Shepherd-King.”
PHARAOH MEHIBRE SETS SIGHTS ON ENTIRE EGYPT
As Pharaoh of northern Egypt, Abraham was quick to act on his brief as assigned by Enlil. From the very outset, he moved to promulgate a practically one-god religion in which Nannar-Sin, who was known as Aten in Egypt, would be the central god and all the Enkite gods – Enzi himself, Marduk, and his son Nabu – would be totally sidelined. To what extent he was successful in this enterprise at this stage is not definite in the ancient records, but it seems he did make some headway in the fullness of time as at the time of Moses, Sin was already a well-known god in Egypt.
Now, Abraham was not content with the occupation only of northern Egypt. He wanted rulership over all of Egypt. After all, he was the Enlil-anointed Shepherd-King of the nearing Age of Aries and a Shepherd-King of necessity had to have regnal authority of all the “Four Corners of Earth” – Sumer, Egypt, the Indus Region, and Canaan. Abraham was determined not to afford the Enkites the merest sliver of territory: he wanted a complete shut-out, whereby the Enkites would be nothing other than vassals of Enlilites in their own native land.
In the event, Abraham contrived to capture southern Egypt, which at the time was ruled by Pharaoh Mentuhotep I. This time around though, Abraham didn’t want to use force from the word go: like the cerebral general he was, he opted to employ the artifice of infiltration before he finally struck. The ruse he used was that of an itinerant priest from Avaris. Bear in mind that in those times when there was no mass media and therefore no published pictures of eminent personages, Abraham still was an obscure personality visually in Egypt despite being a pharaoh.
People knew him as Pharaoh Mehibre Kheti alright, but they didn’t know how he looked like. In antiquity, Kings were not public-domain figures, like heads of state are in our day: they were mysterious. Only members of the royal court knew how they looked like. They strictly kept to the palace and were never seen in a public square. Even fellow kings only came to know each other after an official visitation. Otherwise, they remained total strangers to one another.
SMOKESCREEN VIST TO SOUTHERN EGYPT IS CONTRIVED
Accordingly, Abraham had his officials send word to Pharaoh Mentuhotep I that he was sending a special emissary to southern Egypt who was at once a senior aide and a high-ranking priest. The emissary’s major brief was to meet with fellow priests in southern Egypt so they could compare notes and possibly see common cause on matters of religion.
It is probable that Pharaoh Mentuhotep I was not prepared to meet Abraham himself since he was an occupying king but was ready to meet his senior aide with a view to convey his concerns in relation to the legitimacy of Pharaoh Mehibre. It also happened that at the time, a famine was raging in the whole of Egypt, which was another of the reasons Abraham advanced to Mentuhotep I for his official’s trip to southern Egypt. Abraham’s emissary was therefore at once a priest and a royal merchant who was expected to stock up with wagons of grain from the strategic reserves of Thebe.
Both these scenarios are hinted at in the Bible and in the pages of Josephus. GENESIS 12:10 says, “Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was heavy in the land.” Note the phrase went down to Egypt. This has been taken for granted by many a scholar as simply a turn of phrase. It’s not: what it is saying is that Abraham travelled southwards (down) from northern to southern Egypt. This was at the time he was Pharaoh of northern Egypt. As we earlier pointed out, in the Old Testament, the term Egypt stands not for the whole of Egypt but for southern Egypt only. Northern Egypt is called Israel: it is only after the exodus that Israel comes to denote Palestine.
Flavius Josephus too has this to say on the mission: “Now, after this, when a famine had invaded the land of Canaan, and Abram had discovered that the Egyptians were in a flourishing condition, he was disposed to go down to them, both to partake of the plenty they enjoyed, and to become an auditor of their priests, and to know what they said concerning the gods; designing either to follow them, if they had better notions than he, or to convert them into a better way, if his own notions proved the truest.”
Sadly, Josephus, a true-blue Jew, also plays up to the spin that turns northern Egypt into Canaan, though he furnishes the hint that he’s actually talking in terms of northern and southern Egypt with the words, “he (Abraham) was disposed to go down to them (southern Egyptians)”. NEXT WEEK: PHARAOH MEHIBRE Vs PHARAOH MENTUHOTEP I
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org