She was one of more than a million Earthlings who perished in the seven-bomb nuclear onslaught
When Colonel Paul Tibbets, the US Air force pilot dropped the atom bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945, his immediate remark, which became a folklore phrase, was “My God, what we have done?”. Tibbets so remarked because he thought Japan had vanished from the face of Earth and everything and everybody there had been vapourised.
Nergal and Ninurta were not half as horrified by their gory act as Colonel Tibetts was. For Ninurta, the deed had been accomplished. “It is done”, was his excited, fiendish cry. As for Nergal, he had dealt a telling lesson to Marduk, to Nabu: his obsessive itch for vengeance was fully satiated. The two exulted at the ruinage and bloodbath they had brought about. The Sumerian records say they were actually “puzzled” at their evil handiwork, the scale of destruction they had wrought. It was all too good to be true.
The two had obliterated the spaceport; upheavalled Sodom and Gomorrah (that is, uprooted the two cities so that they were buried so deep under the ground it was like they never existed at all); and not only “killed” what we now call the Dead Sea in the sense that it no longer supported life but also geophysically reformatted it!
“The Earth shook and crumbled, the heavens (the sky) after the brilliance were darkened,” the Sumerian records relate. The “brilliance” was what we would today call a mushroom cloud, which arose in a brilliant flash. “On that day,” say the lamentation texts, “heaven was crushed and the earth was smitten, its face obliterated by the maelstrom. The skies were darkened and covered as with a shadow, a dense cloud that brings gloom.” The year was 2024 BC.
NINURTA’S SIGNATURE STILL VISIBLE IN SINAI PENINSULA
Ninurta’s two-bomb blitz focused on the spaceport, “the place from which Great Ones (the Anunnaki) ascends”, and its mountainous vicinity, along with the adjoining plain that served for landing and take-off. The latter would be dubbed “Place of No Pity” after the nuclear holocaust. Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “The lamentation texts identified the site of the awesome blasts as ‘in the west’, near ‘the breast of the sea’ – a graphic description of the curving Mediterranean coast at the Sinai peninsula – from a plain ‘in the midst of the mountains’, a plain that became a ‘Place of No Pity’. It was a place that served before as the Place of Launching, the place from which the gods ascended toward Anu.”
In one of the lamentation texts, the spaceport, which was a subterranean facility burrowed under Mount Mashu, is referred to as the “Mount of Howling Tunnels”, that is, a mountain containing tunnels that made a howling noise. This is in very apt reference to the spaceport as it had underground chambers and the landing and departing “celestial boats” (spaceships) made penetrating sounds that reached near and far.
When Ninurta, “he who scorches with fire” (Ishum the Scorcher) as he came to be known, was done with his two-bomb strike abomination, “of all the forests that the plain had surrounded, not a tree stem was left standing”. There was absolutely no vegetation in the surrounding plain. “In the mountains he caused starvation, their animals he made perish … As with fire he scorched the animals, burned its (Mount Mashu) grains (that grew on the slopes) to become as dust.”
The fission bombs Ninurta let loose on the Sinai Peninsula exactly 4042 thousand year ago left a permanent mark there. This is a scar so vast it can even be seen from space as satellite photographs have showcased. And not only that: the scar is strewn, to this day, with crushed, burnt, and blackened rocks which contain a highly unusual ratio of isotope uranium-235 – evidence that once upon a time, it was exposed to sudden immense heat of nuclear origin as Uranium 235 is a necessary input into the making of nuclear bombs. The black colour of the stones is also a curious phenomenon given that black is not a natural colour in that setting. Scientists are hard-pressed to venture a reason as to the scar and the atypical colour of the stones.
Let us once again listen to Zechariah Sitchin: “As one stands in this great plain in the Sinai Peninsula, one can see in the distance the mountains that surround the plain and give it its oval shape. The limestone mountains loom white on the horizon; but where the great central plain adjoins the immense scar in the Sinai, the hue of the plain — black— stands out in sharp contrast to the surrounding whiteness. Black is not a natural hue in the Sinai Peninsula. Yet here, in the central plain northeast of the enigmatic giant scar, the soil's colour has a black hue. It is caused by millions upon millions of bits and pieces of blackened rock, strewn as by a giant hand over the whole area.
“There has been no explanation for the colossal scar in the face of the Sinai peninsula since it was observed from the skies and photographed by NASA satellites. There has been no explanation for the blackened bits and pieces of rock strewn over the area in the central plain. No explanation – unless one reads the verses of the ancient texts and accepts our conclusion that in the days of Abraham, Nergal and Ninurta wiped out the spaceport that was there with nuclear weapons: ‘That which was raised towards Anu to launch they caused to wither, its face they made fade away, its place they made desolate’."
NERGAL EXTERMINATES A MILLION-ODD LIVES
Of the two Anunnaki bombers, it was Nergal who was the worser devil. First, he dropped not two bombs like Ninurta but five, corresponding to the total number of the Canaanite cities that had “rebelled” against central authority in Sumer. Second, he targeted the human population. In the aftermath of the Ninurta bombings, only animals are said to have perished as all the Igigis and the few pro-Enlilite humans who worked in the Sinai Peninsula had long evacuated before Ninurta did the deed. In the case of Nergal, an unconscionable number of human beings were turned to ash.
Exactly how many people perished in the Nergal blitz? Neither the Bible nor the Sumerian records give us figures in this regard, not even an estimate of the population of Sodom and Gomorrah. But the one thing we can be sure of is that not everybody died. Even the Atomb bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not vapourise or pulverise the entire population. It is not easy to put a figure on how many people died and survived in the Japanese case since you cannot count ash or vapour. Also, the bombings triggered a great exodus of survivors from the two cities, so that by the time of a post-war census in December 1945, not very many people were left.
After years of excavating the Sodom and Gomorrah vicinities, archaeologists have turn up a large, ancient cemetery area containing over 1 million graves, along with up to 2 feet of ash. From this, two things can be deduced. First, the “Five Cities of the Plain”, as Sodom, Gomorrah and three other cities of the Jordan plain were called, had a sizeable population. Second, people survived and patiently took time to bury the dead as these were not mass graves but solitary graves. It were these survivors who gave eye-witness accounts of what we read in the Sumerian chronicles.
According to the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by “the Elohim” (the ruling pantheon of the Anunnaki) who rained down “fire and brimstone” on the two cities. Brimstone is another name for sulfur. The original Sumerian records, however, do not mention sulfur at all: they attribute the whole disaster to something that sounds like an Atom bomb as we have already related. So where did the biblical scribes get the idea of sulfur bombs?
Well, to begin with, the area around Sodom and Gomorrah was rich with sulfur. Round balls of almost pure sulfur, mostly golf-ball-sized, have been found embedded in ash near the Dead Sea. The experience of Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki incidents serves up the unmitigated fact that an Atom blast smells like sulfur. One such survivor was Taeko Teramae. When in recent times Teramae was interviewed about his experiences of the nuking of Hiroshima, he said, “I smelt something like sulfur.
It smelt like the volcano, Mt. Aso, and I threw up.” Mount Aso is a still active volcano in Kyushu, Japan, which has erupted intermittently since 1974. The sulfur-rich volcanic eruptions smell like sulfur and so Teramae knew what he was talking about. It is the sulfurous smell and the presence of sulfur balls around the Dead Sea that made the biblical scribes take it for granted that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with a sulfurous conflagration.
The fact of the matter though is that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by the Anunnaki by way of nuclear bombs. Indeed, archaeologists have found melted pottery shards around the Dead Sea whose state compare very well to a substance left on the desert floor near Alamogordo, New Mexico, after the explosion of a test nuclear bomb on July 16 1945. According to the same archaeologists, the pottery shards pointed to evidence of “exposure to very high temperature levels, much higher than what would be expected from heating from a kiln or oven”.
It was the “enraged” Enlil who “conceived the wrath” courtesy of the Sumerian annals. But the actual annihilator was Nergal. It was he who “burnt up the adversary (the people of the five cities personified by Marduk and Nabu), who obliterated the disobedient land (the five cities), who withered the lives of the Evil Word’s (Nabu, who was a famed demagogue) followers”. Thanks to the lingering effects of the atomic assault, for the next 700 years Sodom and Gomorrah became a practical wasteland as it simply was too dangerous for human habitation. As the highly percipient Enki had predicted, “to desolation” were the cities “overturned”.
IT WAS NERGAL WHO “KILLED”, EXTENDED THE DEAD SEA
Why does the Dead Sea not support any form of life – the reason it is called the Dead Sea? The tread-of-the-mill reason is that as one of the saltiest lakes in the world, it naturally cannot harbour life forms such as fish, crocodiles, hippos, and other such aquatic animals. But we now can inform you folks that once, the Dead Sea was not a salty lake: it was a fresh water lake which supported animal life. That aspect we learn from the Sumerian records. It became a salty lake in 2024 BC when the Anunnaki blitzed it with chemical weapons.
It seemed the Anunnaki used both chemical and nuclear weapons on the cities of the Jordan plain. It is also common knowledge that the Dead Sea, which is surrounded by Israel, Jordan, and Palestine was shorter (it has an elongated, north-south shape) than it appears today. The southern extremity is a relatively recent extension. What caused the extension? Once again, it is Nergal’s nuclear onslaught.
Traces of radiation have been found around the Dead Sea. Writes Sitchin: “Leading archaeologists, such as W. F. Albright and P. Harland, discovered that settlements in the mountains around the region were abruptly abandoned in the 21st century BC and were not reoccupied for several centuries thereafter. And to this very day, the water of springs surrounding the Dead Sea has been found to be contaminated with radioactivity, enough to induce sterility and allied afflictions in any animals and humans that absorbed it over a number of years.”
As for a further elongation of the Dead Sea, this is what Sitchin informs us: “The upheaval of the cities in the plain of the Dead Sea caused the southern shore of the sea to collapse, leading to a flooding of the once fertile area and its appearance, to this day, as an appendage separated from the sea by a barrier called El-Lissan (‘The Tongue’).”
But there is more. Scientists have observed that the Dead Sea fell abruptly by 100 metres in the 21st century BC. Sadly, they are unable to explain why. Furthermore, there are very curious ruins at the bottom of the Dead Sea which the powers-that-be prevent aquatic archeologist from investigating. Zechariah Sitchin: “Attempts by Israeli archaeologists to explore the seabed there have revealed the existence of enigmatic underwater ruins, but the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in whose half of the Dead Sea the ruins are, put a stop to further exploration.”
If the scientists do not have an idea of exactly what happened to the Dead Sea in the 21st century BC and only have a vague notion of why it does not support life, we advise that they consult the Sumerian chronicles. One such text, the Erra Epos, has this to say about Nergal’s atomic assault: “He dug through the (Dead) sea, its wholeness he divided. That which lives in it, even the crocodiles, he made wither.”
It was Nergal’s atomic and chemical blitz that occasioned a cessation of plant and animal life in the Dead Sea, that caused it to extend southwards, and that accounts for those traces of radiation. Yet the number one reason the Dead Sea was so ruined by Nergal was that it was extremely rich with Ormus – the monoatomic white powder of gold which when ingested either directly or through food grown in Ormus-rich soil perfects bodily health, boosts longevity, and enables a penetrating understanding of spiritual and metaphysical subjects.
Marduk had made the knowledge and use of Ormus available to all the Canaanites, the reason they became so prosperous and flourished in personal health. Poisoning the Dead Sea with chemical and nuclear bombs was intended to keep away humans from accessing the Ormus.
MATERIALISTIC LOT’S WIFE DISCARNATED IN NUCLEAR MAYHEM
Of the five “sinning cities” targeted by Nergal, only one was spared. This was Zoar way south of Gomorrah. Zoar was not bombed because it was in that city Lot had sought refuge, in the surrounding wilderness. In Zoar, Lot was with his two virgin daughters but minus his wife. His wife had returned to Sodom at some stage along the way to Zoar. She did so because she was hopeful she would survive whatever calamity would befall Sodom.
A multimillionaire by the standards of the day, Lot had departed Sodom on the spur of the moment and had left all his riches there practically intact. His wife still longed for those riches and decided against the spirited dissuasion of her husband and her two daughters to return and take charge of the wealth damn the consequences. It was a costly mistake: when Nergal’s bombs rained down, she too was vapourised.
The Bible says she was turned to a pillar of salt (simply by looking back, which is absolute rubbish). But that is not the appropriate translation. The word translated salt is Nimur. Nimur denoted both salt and vapour and the biblical scribes chose salt because at their knowledge level, they just could not conceive of a nuclear bomb and how it could turn a human being to vapour. The term vapour occurs countless times in the Sumerian records in relation to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. “All that lived there to vapour were turned,” says one such text.
Zechariah Sitchin explains the mistaken salt connotation thus: “In a paper presented to the American Oriental Society in 1918 and in a follow-up article in Beitrage zur Assyriologie, Paul Haupt had shown conclusively that because the early sources of salt in Sumer were swamps near the Persian Gulf, the Sumerian term Nimur branched off to mean both salt and vapor. Because the Dead Sea has been called, in Hebrew, the Salt Sea, the biblical Hebrew narrator probably misinterpreted the Sumerian term and wrote ‘pillar of salt’ when in fact Lot's wife became a ‘pillar of vapor’.”
The ancients in fact characterised a translated (that is, dead) person as having turned to vapour. “It is noteworthy,” writes Sitchin, “that in Ugaritic texts, such as the Canaanite tale of Aqhat (with its many similarities to the tales of Abraham) the death of a mortal by the hand of a god was described as the ‘escape of his soul as vapour, like smoke from his nostrils’. Indeed, in the Erra Epos, which was the Sumerian record of the nuclear upheaval, the death of the people was described by the god thus: ‘The people I will make vanish, their souls shall turn to vapour’.” It was the misfortune of Lot's wife to be among those who were "turned to vapour". She apparently valued material possessions much more than her own life. This Earth, My Brother …
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