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Bulela Ditswe 2018: lessons for the BDP & Opposition

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

This year’s Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s primary elections, popularly known as Bulela Ditswe, were like no other. In this article, I argue that, if carefully studied, they can provide invaluable lessons for both the BDP and the Opposition.

Though primary elections are, strictly speaking, a political party affair, I also argue that this year’s Bulela Ditswe results should also provide lessons for the BDP led government and indeed any party that hopes to attain government in 2019. In this year’s Bulela Ditswe, about nine cabinet ministers lost their seats, mostly to first time contenders and hitherto unknowns. No doubt, this is unprecedented in Botswana’s political party history.

Of course, there are other factors which contributed to the loss, which we discuss below, but, in my view, this could be an indication that Batswana are dissatisfied with government’s policies and programmes. One would have expected that the introduction of Constituency Funding (CF) and the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP), both of which were championed by cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs), would have given cabinet ministers and incumbent MPs an urge over their contenders.

It is not only the CF and ESP that should have given cabinet ministers and incumbent MPs an urge over their contenders. Such other government programmes as Ipelegeng, National Service Scheme, Poverty Eradication Programme, ISPAAD, National Youth Development Fund (NYDF), e.t.c should have had the same effect. Still related to the fall of cabinet ministers, the fall of Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Honourable Nonofho Molefhi, and Assistant Minister for Investment Trade and Industry, Honourable Biggie Butale is worth considering.

Honourable Molefhi, no doubt, lost because of the Masisi factor, him having challenged then Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the party chairpersonship. It is not a secret that the Masisi faction does not trust Honourable Molefhi because of his ambitions for the state presidency.

Honourable Butale, together with such cabinet ministers as Minister for Nationality, Immigration & Gender Affairs, Honourable Dorcas Makgato and Assistant Minister for Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Honourable Dikgang Philip Makgalemele, were some of Honourable Molefhi’s fiercest supporters when he challenged President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the party chairpersonship.

Could Honorable Butale’s loss be attributable to the Masisi factor? But how did Honourables Makgato and Makgalemele manage to emerge victorious despite the Masisi factor? Did Honorable Butale underestimate his opponent, Simon Mavange Moabi? In another unprecedented development, this year’s Bulela Ditswe has had many, about fifteen, new comers. What is even more interesting is that these new comers are evenly distributed across the country.

Some of these new comers pitted their chances against party stalwarts, but won against all odds. Examples are Molebatsi Molebatsi and Fransisco Kgobokwe who beat Honourables Kefentse Nzwinila and Shaw Khathi for Mmadinare and Bobirwa constituencies respectively.  Very few expected that Assistant Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Honourable Kgotla Autlwetse, would lose the Serowe North constituency, let alone to the relatively unknown, at least nationally, Puma Matlhware?

Very few would have thought so, especially considering that Honourable Autlwetse, against all odds then, beat his nemesis, former Minister of Justice, Defence & Security, Dikgakgamatso Ramadeluka Seretse. Though not a party stalwart, very few expected that the Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia would lose, yet Thapelo Letsholo beat him. Honourable Ralotsia lost despite the fact that he had the advantage of reaching the masses through farming, the mainstay of many Batswana’s lives.

Similarly, though not a party stalwart, very few expected the Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Tshenolo Mabeo, to lose the Thamaga-Kumakwane constituency, yet Mataosane Keitseope beat him resoundingly. In appearance, Keitseope is, at least according to some stereotypes, not a regular MP material. He appears to be what some call an ‘ordinary’ person. Yet he is said to be the people’s person. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) candidate for the constituency, Ofentse Khumomotse, should be careful not to underestimate him, lest he does that to his own peril.        

Honourable Kgathi’s loss deserves comment. A week or so before the primary elections, former President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, when launching Kgobokwe’s Trust, effectively implored the voters to vote against Honourable Kgathi. Khama had, in his own words, been angered by the fact that Honourable Khathi attempted to dissuade him from officiating at the launch and when that failed he, according to Khama, phoned Dikgosi and implored them not to attend.

Khama did not take kindly to that, saying that was contempt on him as Kgosi kgolo of BaNgwato. The fact that Honourable Khathi did not attend the launch only added salt to injury. Here, it seems, the Khama magic worked against the Masisi factor for, on the face of it, it appears that following H.E Masisi’s ascendancy to the presidency, Honourable Kgathi abandoned the Khama faction for the Masisi faction.

Honourables Polson Majaga and Ignatius Moswaane’s victories are also worth commenting on. Both are what one may call ‘nobody’s men’ if that is possible in politics. They have caused discomfort to the mainstream in the party for their position on several issues, but have seemingly remained true to their constituents.

They have been accused of not respecting the party’s caucus decisions. They have even been accused of being sympathetic to the Opposition, with claims that they bring parliamentary motions which are leftist in nature, yet they emerged victorious in this Bulela Ditswe despite the serious challenge they faced. Nata-Gweta MP, Honorable Majaga, for instance, faced fierce challenge from, among others, former Botswana Congress Party (BCP) fire brand, Ditiro Majadibodu, and former Director of the Department of Youth & Culture, Lawrence Ookeditse, whom many blamed for abusing his position to campaign before he resigned.

Though the MP for Tati East, Honourable Sampson Guma Moyo, is a bit different from Honourables Majaga and Moswaane for Francistown West, he too has his own mind. Also, despite the fact that his constituency is ‘safe’ he does not take his voters for granted. The lesson from this is that being true to the voter pays. Further that while touring the party line and conforming to the party’s positions and principles is important, loyalty and service to the electorate is of overriding importance.

This lesson is even clearer when regard is had for the MP for the Lerala-Maunatlala constituency, former Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Honourable Prince Maele. Obviously because his constituents have confidence in him, they voted for him despite allegations of corruption that he faced which many believe resulted in his removal from cabinet by H.E Masisi. It is worth noting that Honourable Maele has neither been charged nor convicted of any offence or crime.

Former Minister of Minerals, Green Technology and Energy Security, Advocate Sadique Kebonang, who was similarly removed from cabinet by H.E Masisi, allegedly because of the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) saga, did not survive. It is also worth noting that Honourable Kebonang has neither been charged nor convicted of any offence or crime. Honourable Kebonang’s loss could be because he faced a strong opponent in Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, the former Chief Executive Officer of a very influential government agency, Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA).

But it could also be because he had lost touch with his constituents, who, when their time came, did not sympathize with him for the corruption allegations he suffered and the removal from cabinet. The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Honourable Tshekedi Khama, won despite the fact that his Branch Committee had vetted him out for, according to them, neglecting the constituency by never visiting his constituency since the 2014 general elections, or bothering to thank the voters.

Khama won despite facing formidable challenge from Moemedi Dijeng. So significant was Dijeng’s challenge that Khama went to court praying for the court to order that Dijeng be barred from contesting Bulela Ditswe for breaking the rules of the primary elections. Also facing Khama was the Masisi factor. Though there is a possibility that the Branch Committee, which some accuse of being pro-Masisi, was conspiring against Khama because it preferred Dijeng, the Khama magic and Bogosi cannot be discounted from contributing to Khama’s victory.

All said, if there is one desirable lesson to be learnt from this year’s Bulela Ditswe it is that no MP should be too comfortable and take the voter for granted. One hopes that this lesson will be continued at the 2019 general elections even for the Opposition. The absence of the recall clause for non-performing MPs and Councillors has been abused by many, even in the Opposition, who got elected only to abandon their constituents or to put the interests of the party over the voters.

In this year’s Bulela Ditswe, the people have shown that they are the employer and they hire and fire as they please. It appears Khama’s Bobonong words that ‘nobody should believe a constituency is their personal or private property’ have resonated with many in the BDP. One thing is also clear from this year’s Bulela Ditswe for the BDP. If it fails to manage the fall out resulting from Bulela Ditswe, and fails to manage the fall out between Khama and H.E Masisi it may lose the 2019 general elections.

Just like many candidates lost Bulela Ditswe unexpectedly, many may lose the 2019 general elections unexpectedly, especially if the claims by some in the Opposition that they voted for weaker candidates so that their candidates stand a better chance to win the general elections are true.    

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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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