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Where is BMD’s court case?

Ndulamo Anthony Morima


Even prior to its expulsion from the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) on 25th October 2018 the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) had, since its suspension, threatened court action were it to be expelled.

In fact, even during its suspension, there was talk that the BMD was considering approaching court on an urgent basis to apply for the suspension to be set aside and to interdict any envisaged disciplinary action by the UDC. So, when the BMD was finally expelled on 25th October 2018 there was expectation in others and fear in some that it would approach the courts, even on urgency, to apply for its expulsion to be set aside.

So imminent was the likelihood of such court action that many feared that that would result in a protracted legal battle that would only be prejudicial to the UDC’s prospects of attaining state power in 2019. Consequently, some, including me, were of the view that in the event of such court action the Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) should leave the UDC and form a bilateral coalition for the 2019 general elections.

This, it was opined, would save the Opposition project since the bilateral coalition was likely to be attractive to the Alliance for Progressives (AP), something that could give birth to a united alternative to the shell that the UDC would become if it remained with the BMD and possibly the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). However, to date, more than one month since its expulsion, the BMD has not commenced legal proceedings as it threatened. Considering that we are about to enter the festive season, it is unlikely that the case, if any, will be registered this year.

Of course, considering the fact that if the BMD approaches the courts it will be by way of a review application, which should be commenced within four (4) months of the event giving rise to it, the BMD still has about three (3) months on its side. But, one can not help but wonder why the BMD would wait that long in view of the limited time remaining before the 2019 general elections which are likely to be held in October 2019, about eleven (11) months away.

When the BMD opted not to appeal its expulsion to the National Congress (NC) it was understandable, politically, because the chances of it succeeding in such an appeal were close to nil. There was, in my view, almost no way the BMD, even with the support of the BPP, would win an appeal at a NC dominated by the BNF and the BCP not only in numbers but also in political ideology.  

But it is not understandable why the BMD has, to date, not approached the courts. It cannot be an issue of lack of legal preparedness because the BMD, led by Advocate Sidney Pilane, himself a legal hawk, has enough legal arsenal to have waged an attack by now. After all, the BMD had, in preparing its submissions to the UDC against its expulsion, traversed most of the legal arguments it would raise during the review application at the High Court.

It can also not be an issue of lack of funds to retain an Attorney because with Advocate Pilane, and of course other Attorneys who are members of the party, the BMD needs not outsource attorneys to represent it. What then could be the reason for the delay? Could it be because the BMD never intended any litigation in the first place and was using the threat of court action to scare the UDC into not taking action against it.

Or it is because the BMD realizes that it has limited prospects of success in the matter and, therefore, fears the embarrassment that losing the case can bring it as a party and Advocate Pilane personally? It would be remembered that at some point the media portrayed the UDC/BMD fracas as the battle of the advocates- UDC president, Advocate Honourable Duma Boko, and BMD president, Advocate Pilane.

Surely, none of them would want to lose such a potentially historic case, lest their reputation as Advocates of note be irretrievably tainted. Advocate Pilane, for instance, has been praised by his National Executive Committee (NEC) members, including Secretary General, Honourable Gilbert Mangole, as an Advocate of impeccable record. How then he risk it at this potentially historic moment?

Advocate Honourable Boko, on the other hand, has, following the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) case in which he was part of the team defending Basarwa against forcible relocation by Government, built a reputation as a Human Rights attorney. Or it is because, for strategic reasons, the BMD wants to commence the proceedings in early 2019 so that the matter drags through the courts in 2019, something which would adversely affect the UDC’s campaigns.

In my view, realizing that it is likely to lose the court battle, some in the BMD leadership may choose to hurt the UDC by using the uncertainty caused by the envisaged court action to minimize its prospects of success in 2019. But, what benefit will this be for the BMD? In the first place, in the event of an ensuing court case, the BMD will, just like the UDC, be adversely affected politically. The only beneficiary of such a protracted legal battle will be the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Can the BMD be so incensed by the UDC that it can orchestrate a plan that would effectively see the BDP, its supposed real nemesis, retain state power in 2019? What Opposition party, especially which defected from the very ruling party, can do that? Would that not bring credence to the theories that have been making the rounds that some in the BMD leadership, including Advocate Pilane himself, are emissaries of the BDP who have been planted to destroy the Opposition project?   

The UDC’s decision not to expel BMD Council candidates, allowing them to represent the UDC in 2019, may also have thrown the spanners into the works for the BMD, thereby causing it a dilemma in dealing with the UDC. This was a political master stroke by the UDC. It was political curve ball which, if the BMD did not handle with care, was likely to sow seeds of division within the BMD, especially if it were to expel the concerned Council candidates for abiding by the UDC’s decision.

Prior to its expulsion, especially during its suspension, the BMD had enhanced its campaigns. It was all over-in freedom squares, bus ranks, etc. Its publicity functionaries had almost monopolized the air waves. But, following its expulsion it remained in the public space for only about a week. Thereafter it, for all intents and purposes, disappeared, not so much into political oblivion, but into conspicuous absence and silence.

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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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