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The Masisi euphoria should not become a nightmare!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

EAGLE WATCH

No doubt, the ascendance of His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Keabetswe Eric Masisi, to the high office of President brought euphoria to many of our people.

In my view, such elation was expected, especially following the ten years of former President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s tenure which many describe as the worst in Botswana’s political history. But, it ought to be remembered that when Dr. Khama himself assumed the presidency Batswana were excited. Many saw him as the Messiah who was going to solve all their problems.

Then, you could not dare criticise him. He was regarded as Rraetsho who was almost infallible. Put simply, he was a demi-God; the best thing that had happened to Batswana, at least since the passing of his father, the founding president of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama. Of course Dr. Khama’s predecessor, Festus Mogae, was no dictator, but he was largely regarded as a dispassionate leader who ruled according to the book. He lacked charisma. He was a black letter president, if you like.  

In neighbouring South Africa, the ascendance of Cyril Ramaphosa to the Presidency, in 2018, brought about what has come to be known as Ramaphoria. This followed the about nine years of former President Jacob Zuma’s reign which many, including those who served in his cabinet, describe as the darkest age of South Africa’s political history post-1994. But, it also ought to be remembered that when Zuma assumed the presidency South Africans were excited. Many saw him as the Messiah who was going to solve all their problems. He pacified the people through liberations songs.

This followed the reign of Thabo Mbeki who, just like Mogae, was regarded as dispassionate and detached from the common man. On the contrary, Zuma, just like Dr. Khama, was a populist. In neighbouring Zimbabwe, there were scenes of jubilation when long-time dictator former President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, was disposed by the military and replaced by Emerson Mnangagwa whom he had fired as his deputy.

Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s liberation hero, had himself risen to a demi-God status not only in his country, Zimbabwe, but also in Africa and Latin America mainly because of his land redistribution policy and resistance to white domination.  Though Mnangagwa’s ascendance to the presidency did not give rise to the same euphoria that Mugabe, Masisi and Ramaphosa brought it nonetheless brought a glimmer of hope that living conditions would change for the better.

But before even three months could lapse the spirits of Zimbabweans have been dampened. First, was the brutal treatment of civilians by members of the security forces which resulted in loss of lives following the post-election protests waged by supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) who believed that their leader, Nelson Chamisa, had been robbed of electoral victory.

Second, was the careless manner in which the Zimbabwean government responded to the strike by junior medical doctors, the result of which were sympathy strikes by senior doctors and teachers. Third, is the brutal treatment of civilians by members of the security forces which has also resulted in loss of lives following the protests motivated by the unprecedented increase, of about 150%, in fuel prices by president Mnangagwa.

It is common knowledge that the Mugabephoria turned into a nightmare when he, over the years, turned on his own people during the Gukurahondo massacre, operation Mrambatswina, and the failed land redistribution programme which brought untold suffering to his people.
The Zumaphoria also turned into a nightmare when he abused his people’s admiration and got involved in acts of corruption which saw the near collapse of state institutions, especially in the security cluster.

It was during Zuma’s tenure that the South African state suffered the capture of its institutions, mainly by the Gupta brothers, the result being a debilitating decline of its economy and general degradation of its polity. One hopes that Dr. Masisi uses the euphoria surrounding his presidency for the betterment of our people’s lives and not to create a personality cult of himself. My greatest fear is that just like during Dr. Khama’s euphoria years our nation is becoming polarised.

Even more troubling is the fact that he is fact turning into a personality cult. There are those who would die for Dr. Masisi and those who would rather die than support Dr. Masisi. This should not be the case for one of the cardinal duties of a president is to unify his people, not around himself as a person, but around the country’s ideals and values and in pursuit of the country’s vision.

Just recently, I came across a Face Book post through which the author made a claim that Dr. Masisi has been appointed by God to be our president. Expectedly, the post elicited a heated debate, with his detractors arguing that it is heresy to make such a supposition since Dr. Masisi was appointed by a man, Dr. Khama, and not God.

Naturally, when one is still new in office many people want to align with him, not necessarily because they like or believe in him, but because they want to benefit from his patronage and favour. This is the most dangerous stage in every leader’s life cycle for he or she is likely to serve certain interests and agendas and forget to serve the nation. It is during this time that such people or interests present only themselves as virtuous and the rest as villains.

It is during such a time that some people can take advantage of the president’s favour and use state institutions to settle personal scores or to gain socio-economic and political mileage. Now that the dust is beginning to settle, H.E Dr. Masisi has to, for instance, look at the saga surrounding the recent arrest of the former Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi.

He has to ask questions. Was the arrest in the public interest or it was a way of settling personal scores? Is the DISS truly a reformed institution or it is the same old institution that had become a menace to our people? He has to introspect on the impact the race for the presidency of his party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), is likely to have on national unity. He has to be careful not to be used by some for political expediency at the expense of nation building.

After all, when all is said and done it is him who has the responsibility to unite us as a nation. Such responsibility does not lie with his party’s functionaries nor does it lie with his campaign team. It rests with him and him alone. It is him who, as state president, has the responsibility to bring finality to the stand-off between him and Dr. Khama, lest others, who masquerade as his cheer leaders, exploit the stand-off for their own self-preservation and advancement.

Were most of these cheer leaders not Dr. Khama’s cheer leaders when he was still in office? Have they not abandoned him? Won’t they abandon Dr. Masisi after he ceases to be state president because he will no longer be useful to them? It is inarguable that Dr. Masisi has, during the short time that he has been president, done many things that give hope to our people. But, he ought to be careful that the euphoria that came with his presidency does not end up as a nightmare as it happened with Dr. Khama, Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe.

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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
Samson

… 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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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

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 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”!

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