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BNF and BCP coalition: Opposition’s hope for 2019

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

In July this year, the Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) emerged from their conferences with a resolution to enter into a bilateral cooperation for the 2019 general elections if the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) conflicts remain unresolved by mid-August.

I argued then that considering the magnitude of the UDC’s problems, largely caused by the conflicts within the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), such a time frame is unrealistic. I further opined that the time frame is a political ploy meant to give an impression that the BNF and the BCP tried to remain part of the coalition UDC but had no option but to leave owing to the UDC’s failure to keep its house in order.

My theory has been proved true because, according to media reports, even before the mid-August deadline, the BNF and the BCP have already started giving effect to their conferences’ resolution. This gives credence to the theory that the BNF and BCP had, prior to their conferences, caucused and agreed on the resolution, with their conferences merely ratifying what the parties’ Central Committees had agreed upon.

No wonder, some say, prior to the conferences the BNF and BCP presidents, Honourable Advocate Duma Boko and Dumelang Saleshando respectively, submitted the new UDC constitution to the Registrar of Societies without the concurrence of the BMD and the Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP). According to a report in Mmegi’s online edition of 9th August 2018, the functionaries of the BNF and the BCP have, since the parties’ July conferences, met twice for ‘exploratory’ talks in relation to forming a coalition that will contest the 2019 general elections. 

According to the report, the BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando, has confirmed the resumption of the talks, stating that “by entering into talks with the BNF we are implementing one of the resolutions taken by party members at our conference in Bobonong last month. I cannot say much about our talks with the BNF because they are very sensitive”.

The report, however, states that the BNF Publicity Secretary, Justin Hunyepa, while confirming that the BNF recently met the BCP, shared a slightly contrasting version with that of Saleshando, stating that “the main agenda was to discuss how we could win the election as a united opposition not specifically with the BCP.” Hunyepa is reported to have continued to say “we will be holding such bilateral meetings with the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and the Botswana People’s Party (BPP). We will soon be meeting them.”

But truth be told, considering the fall-out between the BNF and the BCP on the one hand and the BMD and the BPP on the other following the BNF and the BCP’s unilateral submission of the UDC’s constitution to the Registrar of Societies for registration, it is unlikely that the UDC will be intact in 2019. It is common knowledge that as a result of the dispute over the unilateral submission of the UDC constitution to the Registrar of Societies, the BMD and the BPP have threatened legal action. That notwithstanding, there has been no known reconciliation between the parties on the matter.  

Hunyepa’s assertion that the BNF also intends meeting the BMD and the BPP may be a mere political gimmick just like the unfeasible time frame of mid-August that the BNF and BCP conferences gave for the resolution of UDC troubles failing which the two parties should enter into a bilateral relationship for the 2019 general elections, effectively leaving the UDC. A possibility exists that with the BMD no longer part of the equation, Honourable Ndaba Gaolathe’s Alliance for Progressives (AP) may join the BNF and BCP coalition, making the coalition more formidable during the 2019 general elections.

This is especially true considering the fissures which have started showing within the ruling BDP arising from the fight for the soul of the party between former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama and His Excellency the President, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Even without the AP, with the UDC’s imminent demise, a coalition between the BNF and the BCP is, in truth, the hope for the 2019 general elections for those who wish for a change of government in 2019.

In the 2014 general elections, while the BNF garnered seven parliamentary seats, the BCP garnered three seats. Of course, the BMD had garnered the most number of parliamentary seats, nine, one seat less than those for the BNF and BCP combined. But, following the BMD split which resulted in the formation of the AP, today, the BMD remains with three seats, with four having been lost to the AP while one, Honourable Tawana Moremi II, is an Independent Member of Parliament (MP).   

Though there is no guarantee that the BNF and BCP MPs will retain their seats after the 2019 general elections, it is likely that the BNF and BCP will have the highest number of seats combined in the next Parliament. If the AP were to join the BNF and BCP the Opposition’s fortunes are likely to be increased since all AP MPs are likely to retain their seats in 2019 considering that since splitting from the BMD it has remained largely peaceful and better organized.

On the contrary, considering the turbulence it has been going through, the BMD is likely to lose several of its MPs during the 2019 general elections. Granted, the BNF has had its turbulences too, but not to the magnitude of the BMD. The BCP has, since it joined the UDC, regained the momentum it had pre-2014; it has re-found its voice; its leader, Dumelang Saleshando, is back in the centre stage of Opposition politics and, in fact, dictates the agenda of Opposition politics.

If the BNF and BCP work together in 2019 they are likely to snatch certain marginal seats from the BDP. In Bobonong constituency, the fierce contest between Honourable Shaw Kgathi and Francisco Kgoboko, who was recently seemingly endorsed by Khama, is likely to hand the constituency to the BCP’s Taolo Lucas. So, the BNF and BCP coalition is the Opposition’s hope for 2019. I say hope because, as I have argued before, the BMD debacle which the UDC allowed to go on for far too long, has allowed the BDP to regain some of the voters it lost in 2014.

This, coupled with the BDP’s resurgence under Masisi’s leadership may thwart the Opposition’s hope to bring the BDP’s 52 year rule to an end in 2019. Yet, the recent fissures within the BDP, which some argue led to the postponement of the party’s primary elections scheduled for this weekend, may give a slim chance to the Opposition, especially if the BNF and BCP enter into a coalition as early as now.       

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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