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The beauty of having a First lady

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

In exercise of his freedom of choice, former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama opted not to marry. The result of his choice is that during his tenure as president we became a nation without a First Lady.

In fact, considering that the First Ladyship is provided for in our laws, for instance, the Presidents (Pensions and Retirement Benefits) Act, Cap.02:03, it effectively means that during Khama’s tenure we had a vacancy in the position. To many, this was odd because it was the first time since independence that our country had no First Lady. All Khama’s predecessors, i.e. his late father, Sir Seretse Khama, Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae were married.

As a result of their decision to marry we had Lady Khama; Mma Gaone and Mma Nametso. After a ten-year drought without a First Lady today we have Neo Jane Masisi, affectionately called Mma Atsile, the wife of our fourth president, His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi. Like other nations, when our president engages in public events, both locally and internationally, he is seen with his wife, and, in some instances, their child, Atsile, as a representation of the family unit that is, after all, the basis for nationhood.

While a state president, like all citizens, has the right to choose whether to marry or not, his or her option not to marry invariably affects the country adversely in many respects as shall be discussed below. A First Lady plays a vital role in the life of the state president that is his husband. She, if the country is fortunate to have a woman of virtue in her, moderates her husband’s character and temperament, something which influences his leadership style.  

She, especially if she has socio-economic and political consciousness, serves as the president’s private, yet critical advisor, often ensuring that the president does not stray in his leadership of his people. She, for her fellow woman folk, becomes their representative in the state house and may influence government policy as far as gender issues and women empowerment is concerned. She, no doubt, is likely to be more influential to the president than the minister responsible for gender issues.

Though the state house has cooks and all manner of staff responsible for making it hospitable, the state house cannot be complete without the First Lady. When heads of state and other foreign dignitaries visit, the First Lady’s presence in the state house is invaluable. A First Lady is not only confined to the state house. She should, in collaboration with various groups, e.g. the youth, women, the elderly, religious groups and those living with disabilities embark on various community projects to uplift our people’s lives.

By virtue of her position, a First Lady is able to mobilize resources for both developmental and charitable purposes. For instance, the late Mma Gaone used her gravitas to mobilize resources for building youth centers in Gaborone West and Kanye, though the latter never functioned.

Mma Gaone also assisted a Kanye based youth entrepreneurship project, Phenyo Industries, led by Jonathan Seokamo. The project was also assisted by the then Barloworld Director of Corporate Services, Dorcas Makgato, the current Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs. The late Lady Ruth Khama contributed immensely to the establishment and growth of the Botswana Red Cross Society which has touched many peoples’ lives, especially the most vulnerable and needy in our society.

Many years after she departed this world, the Lady Khama Charitable Trust, named after her, is leveraging from her name and goodwill to mobilize resources for use in such charitable interventions as helping the poor, those living with disabilities, etc. With less than eight months as First Lady, Mma Atsile is already demonstrating the value and beauty of having a First Lady. Her demeanor and interventions are all, but reminder of how much we missed during the years that we had no First Lady.

Of course, we have seen her playing a supportive role to his husband when attending meetings both locally and internationally. For some world leaders, the mere fact that the president attends such events and meetings with his wife influences their decisions in dealing with Botswana. This week, Mma Atsile launched the First Lady’s Girls Summit in Palapye whose aim is to equip girls with life skills that would help them navigate through such challenges as sexual exploitation and abuse, teenage pregnancy, cultural norms and practices and peer pressure.

Because of her influence as a First Lady, she was able to attract donors for the summit which was reportedly partly sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Also, because of her involvement, the girls are likely to buy more into the summit’s teachings than if somebody else were involved. According to her Twitter profile, as patron for the satellite primary schools of Machana and Bikwe, she was recently involved in a project in which Vivo Energy supplied the schools with solar lamps.

Not only that. She has also been involved in a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in terms of which Total Botswana and other stakeholders were involved in a clean-up campaign. She has also worked with the elderly and women’s groups. The office of the First Lady attracts a salary and other benefits. The First Lady has official vehicles, mobile phones, office furniture and equipment as well as stationery assigned to her. She has a budget.

The only reason that is so is that she is expected to serve her people. Given her demeanor and the fact that she is a professional in her own right, having worked for the United Nations, there is no doubt that Mma Atsile has a lot to offer Batswana.  But, there is another role that the First Lady position plays besides work and involvement in community and charitable projects. For some, it may serve as a motivation for marriage. They may not say it publicly, but there are some, especially those who idolized Khama, who are not married because of Khama’s example.

Some have argued that the First Lady’s projects may be used as a political campaign tool for the husband, thereby abusing public resources for the benefit of the ruling party, in this case the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Of course, that may be so because this is politics and it is highly unlikely that a First Lady is apolitical. Most First Ladies are likely to be card carrying members of their husbands’ political parties. But if that is done with restraint and our people benefit in the process so be it.

Some have argued that being a First Lady is detrimental to women because during her tenure the woman subordinates her interests and personal growth to his husband’s career. That may be so, but a creative woman may well achieve more than what she otherwise would had she remained in her job or enterprise, if any.

In my view, it is almost impractical for a wife of a president to not take up the position and to continue working or running a business, for instance. There are issues of security. The will also be issues of perceived or actual conflict of interest if she, for instance, tenders for contracts if she remains in the private sector.

Also, working, both in the private and public sector is almost impossible. Who can be a First Lady’s supervisor, supervisee or co-worker, for instance? Which customer or client can be comfortable receiving office service from the First lady? How will her security, and by extension national security, be guaranteed in the workplace? 

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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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