Section 92 of the Constitution of Botswana provides that “If the National Assembly at any time passes a resolution supported by a majority of all the Members of the Assembly who are entitled to vote declaring that it has no confidence in the Government of Botswana, Parliament shall stand dissolved on the fourth day following the day on which such resolution was passed, unless the President earlier resigns his office or dissolves Parliament.”
Though section 92 provides for a vote of no confidence in the Government of Botswana as a whole, it is effectively a vote of no confidence in the President for he, in order to save his Government through dissolution of Parliament, has to resign his office within four days if the vote succeeds. It is for this reason that though the Leader of the Opposition, Honourable Advocate Duma Boko’s recent vote of no confidence was theoretically against the Government, it was effectively against His Excellency the President, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
For many, including some Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs), the vote of no confidence tabled by Hon. Boko on 10th July 2018 came as a surprise. This is so because, ordinarily, a vote of no confidence is brought following failures in governance and leadership that an ordinary person would have been aware of for some time or after a singular, but colossal governance and/or leadership failure.
Often, before an MP can table a vote of no confidence there would have been public outcry calling for the Government’s removal. In some instances, there would have been demonstrations, protests and general public disquiet. In a representative democracy such as ours, an MP cannot just move a vote with such implications as the removal of a democratically elected Government from office, albeit constitutionally, without there being a general public inclination in that regard.
It appears many Opposition MPs were also not aware of the vote. When speaking to Duma FM on 11th July 2018, the Secretary General for the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Honourable Dr. Phenyo Butale, stated that the AP was not aware of the vote, and it, therefore, had no party position on it. Hon. Butale’s words were confirmed by Independent MP, Honourable Kgosi Tawana Moremi II, formerly of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), who also spoke to Duma FM on the same day.
Kgosi Moremi II stated that it is for this reason that many Opposition MPs did not participate in the debate, stating that the situation was worsened by the unpalatable illustrations used by Hon. Boko to support his vote. Some have said Hon. Boko’s vote was as much unwarranted as the failed attempt by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) to oust H.E Masisi through the courts when it argued that his presidency ended after seven days of his ‘temporary assumption of office’, but later withdrew the application.
Some have accused Hon. Boko of being an attention seeker who used the vote as a strategy to deflect the public’s attention from the problems bedeviling the Opposition and him personally as leader of both the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). Kgosi Moremi II has, however, argued that even if it is true that Hon. Boko was, by tabling the vote, seeking attention and seeking to deflect the public’s attention from the issues bedeviling the UDC, BNF and himself, there is nothing wrong with that.
Kgosi Moremi II argues that rather than judging people on their motive for pursuing certain courses of action, we should, as a people, rather make judgment on the results and/or impact of their actions. Some have laughed off Hon. Boko’s vote, saying it is against Hon. Boko himself that a vote of no confidence should be tabled in the BNF and UDC because he has failed to lead the Opposition, resulting in the split in the BMD, which gave birth to a splinter party, the AP.
According to them, Hon. Boko has failed to bring unity within the UDC, the result being the continuous conflicts within the BMD and between the BMD and the BCP as evidenced by the recent spat between Advocate Sidney Pilane and Dumelang Saleshando which was leaked in social media. It is probably because of the aforesaid reasons that Hon. Boko’s vote was resoundingly defeated, with a vote of 35 against, 11 for and 3 abstentions. Considering the fact that there are 19 Opposition MPs, it is clear that the vote did not even get the support of the Opposition itself.
But, besides the accusations against Hon. Boko, the question is: has H.E Masisi’s government, within the 100 days he has been President, failed in its duties or committed legal or moral wrongs that a vote of no confidence against it was warranted? According to the Voice’s online edition of 12th July 2018, one of the reasons given by Hon. Boko in support of his vote is that H.E Masisi is unfit to lead the country because he has been implicated in the embezzlement of the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) funds.
The other reason he is said to have given is that by refusing former President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s recommendation for the appointment of former Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi, as his Private Secretary, H.E Masisi is violating Khama’s rights, stating that there is a case in his office regarding such refusal.
It is common cause that the NPF issue has been before the courts before H.E Masisi assumed the presidency, and before he became clothed with protection in respect of legal proceedings in terms of section 41 of the Constitution of Botswana. It is also common cause that after assuming the presidency, H.E. Masisi, in his first cabinet reshuffle, removed former Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security, Advocate Sadique Kebonang, who was alleged to be involved in the NPF scandal.
While some were satisfied with Advocate Kebonang’s removal, arguing that H.E Masisi would not have acted as such if he were involved in the scandal, some argued to the contrary saying Kebonang was a mere sacrificial lamb. They argued that the reason H.E Masisi has not agreed to the establishment of a judicial commission of enquiry to investigate the NPF saga is that he fears that he, and his associates, will be exposed.
I agree that a scandal of the magnitude of the NPF is worth a vote of no confidence on a government. However, considering that this scandal happened when Khama was in office and that while Khama did nothing H.E. Masisi acted as shown above, it is disingenuous for the vote to be brought now when Khama has left office.
As regards H.E. Masisi’s refusal to accede to Khama’s recommendation for Kgosi’s appointment it is a matter which, in my view, is not worth wasting Parliament’s time with a vote of no confidence. If the matter has any merit, which I dispute, it belongs to the courts, not Parliament. One thing I am certain about is that considering the disquiet that Kgosi has caused our people, Hon. Boko, cannot claim to be representing Batswana by calling for a vote of no confidence on the Government for H.E. Masisi’s refusal to accede to his appointment as Khama’s Private Secretary.
But, besides the two issues which are reported to have been the basis for Hon. Boko’s vote, there question is: is there justifiable cause for the vote of no confidence against the Government and, by extension, H.E Masisi? To answer this question, a cursory assessment of H.E Masisi’s record, including the appointments, transfers and dismissals he made, since assuming the presidency is apposite.
Since assuming the presidency, H.E Masisi has appointed His Honour the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane; dropped ministers alleged of corruption and appointed Honourable Nonofo Molefhi as Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration MPAGP&A) despite challenging him for the Botswana Democratic Party(BDP) chairpersonship.
He has also retained such of Honourable Molefhi’s supporters as Honorables Biggie Butale, Fidelis Molao, Phillip Makgalemele and Dorcus Makgatho in his cabinet; and removed Honourable Eric Molale and Ruth Maphorisa from MPAGP&A and the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM) respectively following a decade long cry by trade unions.
H.E Masisi has also showed consciousness for youth empowerment and gender equality as well as rewarding excellence by appointing a young woman, Honourable Bogolo Kenewendo, as the Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry. He has, also after a decade long cry over the DISS’s alleged maladministration, brutality and interception of Opposition leaders’ communications, removed the hitherto untouchable and feared former Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi.
Besides the cabinet reshuffle, transfers and dismissals, H.E Masisi has undertaken some activities which are worth consideration in evaluating whether or not Hon. Boko’s vote of no confidence was warranted. Firstly, though he took more than four months to hold a Press Conference, H.E Masisi did, on 10th July 2018, hold a Press Conference to which journalists from all media houses were invited. In listening to the Press Conference, which was broadcast live, one got the impression that the journalists were free in asking questions and H.E Masisi answered the questions without evasion.
Secondly, speaking at the Press Conference, H.H Masisi assured Batswana that the long awaited Bills on Declaration of Assets & Liabilities and Access to Information shall be tabled before Parliament by the end of this year. Thirdly, also speaking during the Press Conference, H.H Masisi stated that he will, on 12th July 2018, meet with the leaders of Opposition parties. The last such meeting was in 2008. During the Khama regime, the All Party Conference did not convene.
Fourth, in an effort to attract investors thereby creating employment, H.E Masisi has instructed his Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Honourable Dorcas Makgato, to make the process of applying for residence permits, work permits and Visas one seamless process. Fifth, H.E Masisi has reportedly met with trade union leaders in an effort to restore the relations which were strained during Khama’s reign.
Sixth, H.E Masisi is on record stating that the Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Honourable Tshenolo Mabeo, has been given strict instructions to restore the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC). Seventh, right from his first week in office, H.E Masisi showed his willingness to prioritize foreign relations by visiting Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries as well as the United Kingdom and Mauritius.
On the negative side, H.E Masisi has failed to establish a Commission of Inquiry on the NPF saga and has defended the Act on Electronic Voting Machines despite public outcry against the Act. H.E Masisi has also not made any commitment of at least taking such issues as political party funding; direct presidential elections; changing the electoral system from first past the post to proportional representation and recall of MPs and Councillors to a referendum.
His government has also stated that it does not intend changing Botswana Television and Radio Botswana I and II from state broadcasters to public broadcasters despite complaints that they are biased in favor of the ruling BDP. The question is: can the majority of Batswana, having regard to H.E Masisi’s achievements and failures aforesaid, come to the conclusion that H.E Masisi and his government have failed to the extent that they should be removed through a vote of no confidence?
In my view, the majority of Batswana, including members of the Opposition, cannot come to that conclusion, especially that H.E Masisi has only been in office for about 100 days. Not even the claim that Hon. Boko’s vote was warranted because H.E Masisi has failed to create employment and eradicate poverty has merit. Who can bring solutions to such complex issues in 100 days?
In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.
It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.
… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan
With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.
Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.
If I say the word ‘robot’ to you, I can guess what would immediately spring to mind – a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and tv shows. Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name, Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama, Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…
Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator, Box in Logan’s Run, Police robots in Elysium and Otomo in Robocop.
And that’s to name but a few. As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves. And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of robotics in the workplace.
ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.
A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles. It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.
DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.
AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,
AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.
INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour
These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.
This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count! For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars. It’s a theory, at any rate.
Already,customers at the South-Korean fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic. The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners. Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.
‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP.
Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions.
Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders. Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.
These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.
And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth. Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.
But there may be more redundancies on the way as well. Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable? So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid? Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!