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A Fiscus in the Desert

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

 Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah of the Exodus, institutes first Jewish exchequer

Having ordained the Aaronic priesthood through the agency of Moses, Ishkur-Adad, the Anunnaki Jehovah of the Exodus, now proceeded to the next step. HE DECIDED TO INSTITUTE THE FIRST FORMAL WORSHIP SERVICE FOR  THE NATION OF ISRAEL. This was the beginning of Judaism proper.

Thus far, the Hebrews had never had  a dedicated, national  religion of their own.  They had no  temple or any other such own-nurtured place of religious gathering. That did not mean they were religiously indifferent.  In Egypt, for instance, they had worshipped non-Enlilite gods – called idols in the Bible. Indeed,  the prophet Ezekiel admonishes them for doing just that (EZEKIEL 20:4-12) and Joshua also lambasts them for indulging in the same reprehensible practice in their formative days in ancient India in  Abraham’s father Terah’s time (JOSHUA 24:2).

But this was simply a pull factor, a kind of sidetrack. It was a case of catching the lurge, of being influenced by the factor of propinquity. It is natural for any minority population to assume tendencies and predilections of the dominant people in the broader society. In fact, in the majority of cases, Israelites, particularly when they were in Egypt, hardly mingled with Egyptians religiously: they simply kept symbolic images of Egyptian gods for whom they had an affinity.  Their religion was for the most part private and domestic as opposed to being brash and institutional.

The closest Israelites had to a formal religion of their own was in the form of altars. All their patriarchs – Noah, Abraham, Isaac – erected an altar to their god. Altars, however,  were not  worship settings: they were impermanent platforms for   sacrifices (slaughtered animals) and offerings  (grain, wine, bread, etc) to a god. Certainly,   the Hebrew word translated altar connotes slaughter, as in sacrifice. Writes one savant on the subject: “The term altar comes from old English, possibly also related to a Latin word ADOLARE that means to burn up.

In the Hebrew tradition, the word is MIZBE’AKH – and its root is ZAVAKH, which means slaughter, as in a sacrifice.” Some altars were not places of sacrifice as such,  but were simply   monuments or memorials to commemorate a great act done,  or a promise rendered, by a  god. Jacob built one such altar at Shechem (GENESIS 33:19,20) and Moses had only recently done so right in the Arabian wilderness to toast to Adad following the Israelites’ “miraculous” repulsion of the provocative Amalekites after a three-day war (EXODUS 17:15,16).

Thus,  whereas in the past the Jews had revered their gods in an informal,  make-shift kind of way,  Adad now decided it was time they  did so permanently and as a matter of  routine in a formal assembly. This was to be known as the Tabernacle. There,  he would meet them in a symbolic sense and they  would worship him with all the religious protocol that entailed.  The Tabernacle would be “God’s” dwelling place so to speak, a place where he would interface with his chosen people. The Tabernacle foreshadowed the more permanent Temple that would be built when the Israelites were firmly ensconced in Canaan.  

COMPOSITION OF THE TABERNACLE

The Tabernacle went by several names. It was variously called a Sanctuary; a Tent of Meeting; a Tabernacle of the Testimony; or the Tabernacle of the Congregation.  According to EXODUS 25:9, Adad was so determined to get exactly what he wanted that HE PROVIDED MOSES WITH A SCALE MODEL OF THE TABERNACLE, AN ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN. But the  actual construction of the Tabernacle was assigned to two crack artisans, Benzaleel  of the tribe of Judah and Aholiab of the tribe of Dan.

Although the specifications of the Tabernacle are elaborate and rigorous, it was not unique. It was a throwback to Egypt. Both the architecture of the Tabernacle and its surrounding courtyard more or less mirrored the battle tent of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II. There were three main sections of the structure. These were the Tabernacle proper; the courtyard; and the altar.   The Tabernacle proper was subdivided into two rooms: the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.

The courtyard was the preserve only of the Jews and proselytes, the latter being non-Jews who had converted to the Jewish faith by undergoing circumcision.  In the courtyard was found the bronze water basin, where the High Priest (Aaron) and the chief priests (his four sons) would thoroughly wash their hands and feet before they entered the Tabernacle or approached the altar with a food offering, and the altar itself.

It is ironic that the Tabernacle is called a Tent when it was actually a covered timber building. Clearly, it was not as easily portable as it is billed in Exodus. It is said when the Israelites wanted to shift camp,  they took the  Tabernacle down and carried all its constituent parts  to the new locale. It must have taken them weeks to have the Tabernacle systematically dismantled. 

The material inputs that went into the construction of the Tabernacle were gold, silver, bronze, shittim wood, goat hair, the skins of hides, rams, and sea cows, and yarn that had been dyed blue, purple, and scarlet. Exodus says both the metals and hides/skins were supplied by the Nation of Israel themselves, the metals from the hoarded “loot” which they had tactfully swindled  the Egyptians out of before they embarked on the great trek into the Arabian wilds. This was basically stolen treasures used as raw materials in the construction of “God’s House”!

The altar, where animals were sacrificed, is prescribed in EXODUS 20:21, which says,  “An altar of earth you shall make to me, and shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings, and your peace offerings, your sheep, and your oxen …” Altars in the Hebrew Scriptures were constructed of earth, stone, wood and/or metal.

The altar had a particularly intriguing characteristic. Its most sacred parts were the “horns” protruding from its four corners. It was to these four horns that the blood of the sin offering was applied.  What do horns stand for in Illuminati imagery? The Devil, as evinced by the ubiquitous El Diablo (Devil’s horns) hand signal flashed by famous personages in practically every picture our eyes happen to light upon. This particular altar was made of pure gold and acacia wood, which was extravagant: why make a platform whose only purpose was to roast animals out of  gold, the priciest commodity?  But since the altar represented Lucifer, the real god of the Enlilites,  this is not surprising at all. His meal table had to be adorned with gold to fit his stature and standing.

Whilst the Tabernacle was being built,  Moses meanwhile met with Adad in the Tent of Meeting, a provisional arrangement.  “As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses,” says EXODUS 33:7,9. Once the Tabernacle was up and running, the Tent became redundant though the Tabernacle too continued to be loosely referred to as the Tent of Meeting. 

DEVIL HONOURED IN SANCTUARY’S HOLY OF HOLIES

The various sections of the Tabernacle were to be furnished with accoutrements particular to them. For the Holy of Holies, these were the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of the Presence, and the Golden Lampstand.  Since we will dwell on the first two in detail next time around,  we will at this juncture devote to unpacking the Golden Lampstand, also known as the Menorah.

The Golden Lampstand comprised of seven branches, each supporting an olive oil lamp. Its ostensible purpose was to illuminate the Holy of Holies so that it had clear visibility on the occasion the High Priest stepped in there. But you will be aware by now that Illuminati trappings invariably have several layers of meaning. The surface layer, which is intended for the wider public, is the least important. It is the underlying layers, meant for fellow Illuminati elements, which carry the fundamental message.

The Golden Lampstand represented occultic illumination, not necessarily the needed environmental lighting. At every Satanic gathering, there’s always a form of light. Even in musical videos shot by mega stars of the American entertainment industry, there’s always a bit of light lingering in the background. To the Illuminati, light is the primordial symbol of Lucifer for Lucifer is the light bringer, the term light here employed in the sense of privileged occultic and metaphysical knowledge and not general knowledge.

The number 7 is also numerologically significant. Primarily, it was at once the number of Earth (being the seventh planet counting from Pluto) and Jehovah-Enlil in his capacity as Earth’s Chief Executive pre- the astrological Age of Aries.  BUT THE ILLUMINATI ARE VERY CLEVER OPERATORS. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, THEY USE REVERSE SYMBOLISM SO THAT WHAT THE MAINSTREAM ASSUME IS THE PRIMARY MEANING OF A CERTAIN EMBLEM IS ACTUALLY NULLIFIED (for instance, they use an inverted cross to desecrate Jesus and therefore mock Christendom). That way, they are less liable to give the game away.

The number 7 is in some contexts (such as in the Golden Lampstand case) a bow to the planet Saturn and therefore to Satan himself as Saturn is the Devil’s Solar System bastion. Saturn is the 7th major celestial body in the Solar System counting from and including the Sun.     It is a pity that in the Book of Revelation, the Golden Lampstand is presented as an image of the Church. UNBEKNOWNST TO MOST CHRISTIANS, WHAT THAT SUGGESTS IS THAT THE CHURCH IS ACTUALLY PRESIDED OVER NOT BY   JESUS OR FIRST SOURCE BUT BY THE DEVIL. It is the Devil who struts the pulpit folks.

It explains why the Golden Lampstand imagery is a constant feature in every Catholic parish, and we know the nature of  interdimensional forces the Vatican represents. It also explains why these days, all sorts of outrageous  deeds are being perpetrated by  pastors of the so-called Fire churches in the name of “God” without shame or scruple.

This litany of iniquities include flagrant adultery and sexual snacking; false prophesying; bogus healings which do not endure; theatrical laying of hands; felling desperate members of the audience  under the pretext of the “power of the Holy Spirit” (when all what that does is introduce demonic spirits in the hapless victim); getting people to eat grass and consume the deadly Doom spray;  sacrificing of prominent members of the church or a critical mass of congregants by way of  road “accidents” (read: “spell-casting”) and collapsed buildings; outright paedophilia, which has now become a staple of the Catholic church;  pimping teenage girls to the pastor and other senior members in the church hierarchy; using church members slavishly and imbecilically  moving on all fours as a stage prop;  and  the flaunting of blood-stained,  ill-gotten, Lucifer-enabled riches.  This Earth, My Brother …

ADAD’S SAFETY AND SECURITY TAX

If you thought religion was essentially spiritual and innocuous, then I’m afraid you are living in Cloudy Cuckoo Land. Religion’s main  purpose is to stunt mankind’s progress as a spirit-soul, to distract us from focusing on our inner, higher self as only that can bring about true real salvation. The Kingdom of God is within you, not outside of you, as Jesus truthfully put it.

But there is more: religion is a subtle, sleight-of-hand means to economic ends. It is about self-aggrandisement at the expense of the hopelessly naïve and gullible “flock”.  The famous – or is it infamous – Black   American tele-evangelist TD Jakes is on record as gleefully admitting that “religion makes for  good business”. And he can prove it: according to the Forbes magazine list of wealthiest pastors on the globe, TD Jakes has – Praise the Lord! – a net worth of $147 million as of the “year of our Lord” 2018, making him the richest propagator of the gospel on Earth.

Of course TD Jakes has a broad-based portfolio of investments,  but what set him up was the financial windfall accruing from the tithes and offerings of the stupidly unsuspecting people who  cram the pews when he’s belting out his “calling”. Yet he’s far from the odd one out: members of the Levitical priesthood were just as wealthy. The High Priest was filthy rich folks.  The priesthood was just as corrupt those days as the clergy of our day are (when in AD 66 the Zealots ejected the Romans, the first person to be put to the sword was the High Priest, who they regarded as the paradigm of a looting collaborator). 

Remember, the Temple was the very heartbeat and lifeblood of the Jewish economy. All economic life was centred around the Temple. One of the sources of the priesthood’s wealth was Temple Tax. Temple Tax was introduced by Moses, at the say-so of Ishkur-Adad right at Mount Sinai.  It served two principal purposes. First, it was meant for the upkeep of the Temple and the subsistence of the priesthood. This is the role you hear the pastor eagerly preach about  because it sounds very godly and bolsters his own economic cause.

What the pastor will not tell you is that Temple Tax was also A RANSOM FOR THE PAYER, A MEANS BY WHICH HE OR SHE PAID FOR HIS WELLBEING AS A PROTÉGÉ OF HIS GOD. This was most obvious in its other form, which we can call Census Tax but which was actually Safety and Security Tax. Census Tax applied to men who were 20 years and above, who were under obligation to serve in the army.  For “God” to guarantee the general wellbeing of service men, he had to be bribed. Otherwise, he would visit a plague on the whole nation even if only a few people were in default.

The ordinary Jew paid Temple Tax once every year. For service men, they paid it every time a census was conducted as censuses those days were done to establish how many people were eligible for enlistment into the war effort. This is what Adad says in EXODUS 30:11-16 (the emphasis is ours):  “When you take the census of the people of Israel, THEN EACH SHALL GIVE A RANSOM FOR HIS LIFE TO THE LORD when you number them, that THERE BE NO PLAGUE AMONG THEM when you number them.

Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary, half a shekel as an offering to the Lord. Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, SHALL GIVE THE LORD’S OFFERING. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when you give the Lord’s offering TO MAKE ATONEMENT FOR YOUR LIVES …”

In the above statement, Adad accentuates the fact that Temple Tax was an atonement – a payment made by the Nation of Israel so as to forestall a calamity of sorts and therefore insure their lives.  The Anunnaki gods never ever rendered a favour or blessing for free. The other thing Adad stresses is that every time a census was held, ransom money had to be collected from everybody counted. To neglect collecting the ransom was a very serious offense against the god and invited very serious repercussions as was the experience of King David (1 CHRONICLES 21 and   2 SAMUEL 24).

Adad instructed David to take a census of all the tribes of Israel. David did likewise but for reasons that are not spelt out, he omitted to collect the Census Tax. Adad was livid as a great economic opportunity was passed up. He had Gad, a prophet, confront David for this transgression and read the riot act to the King. The King was asked to choose one of three reprisals.

They were three years of famine, three months of a tempestuous military onslaught by enemy nations, or three days of a holocaust-like plague. David chose the latter. The short-lived plague, which is not specified, laid waste to 70,000 Israelites. For having his money-centred god incur an incalculable economic loss, David had to lose 70,000 of his people. Human life was so cheap to these barbarous Anunnaki gods.

MORE  ANIMAL SACRIFICE, MORE BLOOD-LETTING

At long last, Aaron and his four sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar were consecrated for “God’s” service by Moses on the instructions of Adad. This commissioning into elemental priestly service was a bloody affair. Besides having  Aaron and his four sons wash in water (to publicly demonstrate that they were not physically tainted in any way, shape or form) and anointing Aaron as High Priest, it involved animal sacrifice and literally  dousing  the five priests in animal blood.  

The animals involved were one bull and two rams in a three-phase, week-long ceremony. The one involving the bull was a sacrifice of purification – to cleanse the priests of any lingering sin that might render them unfit to represent the people before “God”.  The bull was consumed by fire, first on the altar within the Tabernacle yard and finally outside it. The second sacrifice involved having a ram burnt to a cinder right on the altar. 

The third sacrifice was of the ram of ordination. Aaron and his sons first laid their hands on the ram. Then once it was slaughtered, its blood was first smeared on three areas of the body. These were the ears (to signal unquestioned obedience to Adad); the right hand (to signal devoted service to Adad in the manner of a right-hand man); and the right foot (to signal an abiding, lockstep philosophical  walk with Adad). The rest of the blood was then sprinkled on the altar as well as over the priestly garments of the quintet. 

The ram of ordination was not totally consumed by fire: only a part of it as the rest was spared as a meal for Aaron and his sons  – to herald the fact that the priesthood were to be fed on the offerings from the rest of the population as recompense for their  dedicated service to God. Note the symbolism of the animals chosen for sacrifice. Both the ram (signifying the astrological Age of Aries) and the bull (representative of the Egyptians’ Apis Bull)   were emblematic of Marduk, the Enlilites’ arch-enemy who was Earth’s sitting Chief Executive. 

It was all occultism folks: what you kill (through shedding of blood) and eat you assimilate and consequently enhance  your own occultic powers with its life force,  which is eternal. Also note the occultic hallmarks of blood and death in the whole process. This is very much an echo of a Satanic setting. And you say the Old Testaments gods were “holy”? C’mmon, give me a break dude.

 
NEXT WEEK:   THE ARK TAKES SHAPE

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Internet Connectivity in Botswana: Time to Narrow Digital Divide

19th October 2020
Elon Musk

On Friday October 9, 2020, President Masisi officiated at a function that most appositely spoke to his passion and desire to kick-start the crystallisation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR in short, in Botswana. In his keynote speech, the President hailed the partnership between Gaborone City Council and BoFiNet to launch free Internet access of one-hour duration daily in selected “Wi-Fi Hotspots” across the city for all and sundry.

The pilot project has actually been years in the making, having been initiated in April 2014, when the BOCRA-supported Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) was established. UASF levies 1 percent on the gross annual turnover of flourishing ICT outfits and is now using this to subsidise the Internet access price in the Hotspots of Gaborone, which are to be found at shopping malls, bus stations, hospitals, and airports in the main. The facility, which is provided courtesy of the BoFiNet Wi-Fi infrastructure, will in the fullness of time be rolled out in Kasane, Maun, Francistown, Palapye, Serowe, and Mahalapye too. As of the end of 2019, UASF collections totalled P43.2 million according to BOCRA’s latest Annual Report.

A point President Masisi underscored at the launch was the imperative that “all citizens have access to the Internet so that the ideal of leaving no one behind as envisioned by the sustainable development goals is realised”. It also exhilarated me that the President underlined that “innovation and creativity will be the bedrock of economic diversification in our country”, a priority I besought government to pursue with impassioned as opposed to rhetorical resolve in one of my earlier articles under this very column.

Certainly, Pillars 1 and 2 of the only minimally accomplished Vision 2016 goals envisaged, amongst other things, an informed and innovative Botswana. With the Wi-Fi Hotspot dispensation now upon us, are we on course to deliver on this sooner rather than later?

FREE INTERNET COULD FULFIL MEGA DREAMS FOR THE CITIZENRY

Granted, one hour of free Internet per day is not that bad as a starting point, but it is a drop in the ocean when juxtaposed with the larger global picture, whereby some countries, which include the industrialised West, the Scandinavian countries, and the Baltic states of Lithuania and Estonia, offer qualitative public Internet service free of charge all-day long. In Finland for one, broadband (high-speed Internet access) has been a legal right since 2010. In other words, if a citizen for one reason or the other does not have the opportunity to surf the web, he or she can sue the state for redress.

For the impecunious individual who wishes to do meaningful and comprehensive research, however, one hour can be very limiting. To just give one example, it takes me up to two full days to gather material for a single one instalment of the contents of this column, of which Internet-sourced data is key. This is because not every bit of worthwhile information is available at just one click of the mouse. In some cases, the requisite information is simply not available at all and by the time that dawns on you, a full day will have gone by.

There is also the question of whether the Hotspots are amply equipped with desktops, let along being sizeable enough, to cater to the stampede of the city residents who will want to be one of the earliest birds to catch the worm given that access is certain to be on a first-come-first-served basis. An Internet Hall under the auspices of government would serve the purpose best, with the unused Orapa House as a possible venue proposition.

As for nationwide and limitless free Internet access, we still have a long way to go being a Third World country but the earlier we get there, the greater the rewards we reap in the long-term. Google, Facebook, Twitter, to mention only a few, are today multi-billion operations thanks to the added benediction of the Internet epoch. Years back, Elon Musk and five others started PayPal – a means of sending money, making an online payment, and receiving money – using the Internet medium. In 2002, E-Bay acquired PayPal for an eye-popping $1.5 billon, with Musk personally garnering $165 million. As I write, Musk is the 6th richest person on Earth, with a net worth of $82.3 billion.

It is the ready platform of the Internet that helped catapult him to the dizzying pecuniary heights he has since scaled.  We will probably never be able to mint a dot.com-facilitated dollar billionaire in Botswana, but even mere Pula millionaires or part-millionaires can do as half a loaf is better than nothing. If Internet was freely available to every citizen, such chances would be greatly enhanced.

WE LIVE OUR LIVES ONLINE

In the past, Internet connectivity may have been a luxury but the advent of COVID-19 has made it an essential component of the new normal – a lifeline. Students have had to receive lessons online amid stop-go lockdowns of huge swathes of a country. Executives have had no option but to network or collectively liaise using teleconferencing or by way of Skype. Telemedicine, or caring for and consulting with patients remotely, has become the order of the day, especially in the developed world. We have seen live-streamed religious services and of course some people have been working from home.

Even before COVID-19 struck, we were routinely conversationally engaging with family and friends on social media platforms such as Facebook and Whatsapp. Some of our monthly transactions, like telephone bill settlements and DStv subscriptions, were effected online. Needless to say, we have literally been living our lives online. Electronic transacting in any case, whether by mobile phones or via the web, substantially curtail queuing time at banks and precious other pay points anywhere, gets people to spend more time in the workplace than out of it, and therefore boosts productivity as personal errands to do a thing or two are notorious for eating into invaluable man-hours.

There’s also government’s espoused vision of having Botswana transformed into a knowledge-based economy. Without universal access to the Internet, this aspiration will remain a pipe-dream. Knowledge certainly is power, whether this be political, economic, or scientific. Botswana will never come to be anywhere near the economic might of Singapore or the technological feats of South Korea if it relegates knowledge attainment to the back burner of its core aspirations. An Old Testament prophet was spot-on when speaking on behalf of his god Yahweh lamented that “my children perish for lack of knowledge”, HOSEA 4:6.

The paradox is that the digital divide both on the continent of Africa and in Botswana is as glaring as ever. Only four out of ten people in Africa have Internet access and according to the global business data platform Statista, which has insights and facts about 170 industries and more than 150 countries, Botswana has an Internet penetration of only 47.5 percent. It lags 20 other countries on the continent, who include Kenya (the continental leader at 87.5 percent); Mauritius (67 percent); Nigeria (61.2 percent); Swaziland (57.3 percent); Zimbabwe (56.5 percent); South Africa (55 percent); and Zambia (53.7 percent).

A study by the Mc Kinsey Global Institute postulates that if Internet use proliferates in Africa at the rate mobile phones did in the early 2000s, the continent stands to add as much as $300 billion to its economic growth by 2025. The World Bank also says achieving universal, affordable, and good quality Internet access in Africa by 2030 will require an investment of $100 billion. In Botswana, the National Broadband Strategy (NBS) aims to achieve universal broadband by 2023. It is aligned to BOCRA’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, whose main goal is to deliver the NBS aims at an affordable price tab. Is the time frame realistic?

THE PRICE OF AN ARM AND A LEG!

For universal Internet access to be tenable, first both the access and the medium of access have to be affordable to every literate person out there. Sadly in Botswana, smart phones, which allow for Internet access anywhere where there is a cellular network, do not come cheap. The asking price at the very least is upwards of a thousand Pula. That is a prohibitive price for the greater majority of our population who struggle to eke out a living just to keep body and soul together. The likes of BOCRA and BoFiNet should help out here by subsidising the price of these devices, at least for a period of time till economies of scale result in a natural reduction of the price.

As for the going price of Internet access in Botswana presently, a study of 228 countries earlier this year by cable.co.uk found that Botswana was among the 14 most expensive countries in this regard. I can attest to this myself as I have to fork out a minimum of about P400 a month to enable me the use of the Internet without any hiccup save for the sporadic network downage or the now endemic power outages. To many a people, P400 a month amounts to the proverbial cost of an arm and a leg as it constitutes a substantial proportion of average monthly income. In countries such as Egypt and Mauritius, one can have Internet use every day of the week at any time of the day for only 0.5 percent and 0.59 percent of average monthly income.

In a bid to ameliorate the prohibitive Internet access price in our country, the University of Botswana was forced to shell out a whopping P7.8 million to provide the student populace with free SIM cards to enable them download teaching material under the restrictive COVID-19 climate. Botho University also entered into an arrangement with Orange whereby their students could have online access to learning materials and teaching instruction at only P2 a day, P10 a week, or P30 a month, though data was capped at 200 megabytes a day. Both these initiatives by two of the country’s premier institutions of higher education must be lauded.

If the cost of mobile broadband data has to organically come down drastically, it is essential that we move from a consolidated market – the triopoly of Mascom (with 51 percent market dominance), Orange (34 percent), and Be-Mobile (15 percent) we have in Botswana – to a multi-operator market. In its latest annual report, BOCRA reports that in 2018, the three operators had combined revenues of P4.4 billion and combined profits of P826 million. One wonders why this rather brisk bottom line does not translate to a proportionate paring down of the consumer price or does it have to do with the fact that the operators’ greed knows no bounds?

BOTSWANA NEAR TAIL-END OF GLOBAL BROADBAND SPEED LEAGUE

If the truth may be told, Internet speed in Botswana is no longer as glacially slow as it was a year or two back. That does not mean it is lightning swift. In fact, it is among the slowest both on the globe and on the African continent.  At the download average of 1.92 megabytes per second (mbps), Botswana ranks 165th in the world and is 22nd in Africa according to statistics furnished by cable.co.uk. Our case is all the more stigmatic as we trail even comparatively poorer countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Sudan.

Taiwan has the fastest Internet in the world at 85.02 mbps, followed by Singapore at 70.86 mbps. Whereas it would take 22 hours for one to download a 5 gigabyte movie in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, the worst-ranked African country, and 6 hours for Botswana, it would take only 8 minutes in Taiwan.  In Africa, it is not South Africa (8.4 mbps, 75th in the world), the wealthiest country, which leads the pack. It is Madagascar at 22.57 mbps (33rd globally). This is one of the poorest countries on Earth, with four out of every four citizens living on less than $2 a day.

Botswana in fact is way below the minimum speed of 10 mbps required for consumers to fully participate in a digital society according to tech experts. I need not emphasise that time is money. It is time BOCRA and BoFiNet saw to it that we pulled up our socks in broadband speed to serve on trawling time. Regrettably, in Botswana things move very slowly and it will probably be another ten years or so before we come to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Madagascar. As for ever catching up with Taiwan, well, the less said the better.

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The Babylonian Captivity Ploy

19th October 2020

Nebuchadnezzar has the Jews exiled to his own domain to sabotage Jerusalem’s prospects of hosting King Anu, “Our Heavenly Father”

In 590 BC, General Atiku, King Zedekiah decided he would no longer be the puppet of Babylon. Just like Nebuchadnezzar, he wanted to be in full and unmitigated control of the Holy City in the event King Anu pitched. But he was under no illusion he could throw off the yoke of Babylon singlehandedly. So in the fourth year of his reign he – once again against the advice of the far-sighted prophet Jeremiah – joined a coalition that was being formed by Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon resist Nebuchadnezzar.

Upon getting wind of the rumours of this scheme, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Zedekiah to Babylon to administer to him a warn and caution statement but it seemed he took no heed. The following year, Nebuchadnezzar decided to pounce: he captured all the cities of Judah except three, one of which was Jerusalem and which he proceeded to besiege for the third time.

Finding himself in dire straits, General, Zedekiah made an alliance with Pharaoh Apries of Egypt and indeed the latter rushed to reinforce him. In the ensuing lull in hostilities, Nebuchadnezzar pulled a stunt by lifting the siege and Apries withdrew. No sooner had Apries done so than Nebuchadnezzar hemmed in on Jerusalem once again: Zedekiah was on his own. Jerusalem was under siege from January 587 to July 586 BC. The following, General, are the circumstances and aftermath of the siege according to one chronicler:

“Conditions in the city became increasingly desperate. Although the people had had time to prepare, their food supplies eventually began to run out. Cannibalism became a grim reality. Despite Jeremiah’s counsel to surrender, the King refused to do so and just as the last of the food in the city was exhausted the Babylonians broke through the wall.

“Zedekiah fled with remains of his army, but was overtaken and captured near Jericho. From there, he was brought before Nebuchadnezzar at his field headquarters at Riblah, his sons were executed in front of him, and he was blinded. From there, he was taken in chains to Babylon. The key members of his cabinet were executed before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah shortly afterwards.

“A large part of the population of Jerusalem was put to the sword and everything of value plundered. The bronze articles from the Temple were cut up and removed and the building together with the palace and the important houses were set on fire.  “In order to ensure that the city would never rebel against him again, Nebuzaradan, the commander of the Imperial Guard, ordered that the walls be demolished. All who survived in the city were carried off into exile in Babylon, with the exception of the very poor of the land.

The starving population exchanged whatever riches they had left for food, its leadership and priesthood were gone and the Temple burnt. The Babylonians soldiers oppressed the survivors and forced them to work for their food.” The remnant of poor people that were spared, General, were meant to serve as farmers and wine dressers. These people had previously been landless peasants and presented the least risk to the Babylonians, but were required to work the land to prevent the fields falling into disuse.

WOULD KING ANU CONDONE NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S ACT?

Nebuchadnezzar was not the first King to deport a people from their own country, General. The pace was actually set by the Assyrian King Adad Nirari I (c. 1307-1275 BC), who thought the best way to prevent any future uprising was to remove the occupants of the land and replace them with Assyrians. But Nebuchadnezzar, General, had an ulterior motive for the deportations, which only the “Illuminati” of the day were privy to. He wanted to make Jerusalem desolate and decrepit so that when King Anu arrived, he would avoid it like the plague and instead focus on the glittering Babylon.

His aim was to kill off entirely the competition posed by Jerusalem. Says Zechariah Sitchin: “The expectation, it seems, was that the arriving god (Anu) of the Winged Disk (symbol for planet Nibiru) would come down at the Landing Place (Baalbek) in Lebanon, then consummate the Return by entering Babylon through the new marvelous Processional Way and imposing Ishtar Gate.”  But in the event that he indeed pitched, would the pro-Enlilite Anu take kindly to being deflected to a city (Babylon) other than Jerusalem when it had been specifically designated for his ultimate hosting on the planet by virtue of its geometrical centrality?

Having taken over Nippur’s prediluvial role to serve as Mission Control Center after the Deluge, Jerusalem was located at the center of concentric distances to the other space-related sites. Aptly calling it the “Navel of the Earth” (EZEKIEL 38:12), the prophet Ezekiel had announced that Jerusalem had been chosen for this role by God himself. “Thus has said the Lord Yahweh: ‘This is Jerusalem; in the midst of the nations I placed her, and all the lands are in a circle round about her,” EZEKIEL 5:5. “Determined to usurp that role for Babylon,” Sitchin further notes, “Nebuchadnezzar led his troops to the elusive prize and in 598 BC captured Jerusalem.”

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE EXILE SITUATION

Altogether, General, the Babylonian captivity – the deportation of the Nation of Israel to Babylon – spanned 70 years counting from the first deportation of 598/597 BC.  Meanwhile, Judah was renamed Yehud Province by the Babylonians and a puppet Jewish governor was appointed to administer it. (The post of King was abolished, making Zedekiah [reign: 597-586 BC] the last substantive linear King of the Jews.) His name was Gedalia, whose father had been an advisor to King Josiah (reign: 640-609 BC).

Gedalia set up his capital not in Jerusalem but in Mizpah. That, plus the fact that he didn’t have a drop of Davidic blood in him, made him a marked man to Jewish nationalists and traditionalists from the word go. Not long after his appointment, Gedalia was assassinated by a family member of the deposed king Zedekiah. From that point on, General, no Jewish governor was installed until after the end of the Babylonian captivity.

Exactly what were the circumstances of the deportees, General? The image that immediately comes to mind is that of a concentration camp kind of setting reminiscent of the Jewish people’s fate at the hands of Nazi Germany. That, General, is a gross misconception. In Babylon, the Jews enjoyed every privilege, including citizenship if they so desired. They were not enslaved or in bondage of any kind. Their own individual abilities were even tapped into to help advance Babylon in one way or the other.

Reading PSALM 137:1–2, the surface impression one gets, General, is that the Jews in Babylon were beset by a most disagreeable set of circumstances. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Zion (Jerusalem). There on the poplars we hung up our lyres.” Well, that was pure nostalgia, which is a natural impulse when a people have been displaced, General. A notable historian presents to us the more accurate picture in the following words:

“The deportees, their labour and their abilities, were extremely valuable to the Babylonian state, and their relocation was carefully planned and organised. We must not imagine treks of destitute fugitives who were easy prey for famine and disease: the deportees were meant to travel as comfortably and safely as possible in order to reach their destination in good physical shape.

Whenever deportations are depicted in Babylonian imperial art, men, women and children are shown travelling in groups, often riding on vehicles or animals and never in bonds … Deportees were carefully chosen for their abilities and sent to regions which could make the most of their talents. Not everyone in the conquered populace was chosen for deportation and families were never separated. Those segments of the population that had actively resisted the Babylonians were killed or sold into slavery, but the general populaces became absorbed into the growing empire and were thought of as Babylonians.”

Another historian has this to say, General: “It is assumed that the Jews had to render labour to the Babylonians, but generally they enjoyed a great deal of freedom. Some of the exiles, like Daniel and his three friends, rose to positions of power within the Royal Court of Babylon and many others became wealthy. Later, during the Persian period Jews like Mordecai, Esther, and Nehemiah all found themselves in key positions in the government and were able to act on behalf of their people because they took Jeremiah’s advice.” Indeed, General, Nehemiah rose to become the cup-bearer of the King, that is, the King’s most trusted official.

The King-in-exile himself, Jeconiah, enjoyed particularly special privilleges both when he was in prison and after his release. Captive kings and high-ranking officials received monthly rations of grain and oil. Archaeological evidence recovered from the Royal palace in Babylon provides support for Jeconiah’s presence there and lists the daily rations set aside for him and the members of his family.

The Bible itself, General, does not shy away from underscoring Jeconiah’s privileged status in Babylon as highlighted in JEREMIAH 52:31-34 thus: “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jeconiah King of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became King of Babylon, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, he released Jeconiah King of Judah and freed him from prison. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honour higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jeconiah put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the King’s table. Day by day the King of Babylon gave Jeconiah a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death.”

 

JEREMIAH PAINTS SORRY PICTURE OF MARDUK’S FATE

The destruction of Solomon’s Temple by King Nebuchadnezzar, General, was according to the Bible the ultimate blasphemy. Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah under whose auspices the Temple was built, was not in the least bit amused. He straightaway had the prophet Jeremiah step forward and pronounce the comeuppance both on the King and his colossal empire.

Now, biblical prophecies, General, should not be taken at face value. Their fulfillment were documented after the events they purported to foretell had already taken place, not before they happened. Much of the Old Testament corpus was compiled in the 6th century BC, during and after the Babylonian captivity (the Book of Malachi, the last prophet, was written circa 400 BC, and the Book of Daniel was compiled just after 164 BC). So we have to bear that in mind, General, when we read of fulfilled prophecies so that we decide whether to contemplate the story warily or give it the benefit of the doubt.

Jeremiah announced that the destruction of the Temple was going to be avenged by Yahweh (JEREMIAH 50:28). In addition, Adad instructed him to make the following proclamation: “Declare among the nations and proclaim, set up a banner and proclaim, do not conceal it, say: Babylon is taken; withered is Bel; confounded is Merodach … For out of the north a nation has come up against her; it shall make her land a desolation, and no one shall live in it; both human beings and animals shall flee away.” – JEREMIAH 50: 1-3.

Jeremiah, General, made this statement circa 561-60 BC. It can be easily dated because it was in this timespan that Merodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, was on the throne. Jeremiah served notice to the world that Babylon was to be supplanted by a new power from the north, who turned out to be Persia. Jeremiah also spelt out the imminent fate of the Babylonian god Marduk, who was also known as Bel, meaning “The Lord”: he was to “wither”, or cease to be a factor in the affairs of mankind. In the case of Merodach, all Jeremiah said of him was that he was to be “confounded”, that is, so overwhelmed by problems as to lose a sense of focus. One wonders, General, why Jeremiah, if he was the great prophet he was touted to be, didn’t foresee the assassination of Merodach and directly allude to it in his prophecy.

The prophet Daniel says in his waning days, Nebuchadnezzar had his mind taken away and ate grass like an ox. This, General, is a fanciful story which is found only in the Bible and nowhere in the Babylonian annals. “There is no independent support for the tradition in Daniel of Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years’ madness, and the story probably arose from a fanciful later interpretation of texts concerned with events under Nabunaid, who showed apparent eccentricity in deserting Babylon for a decade to live in Arabia,” says Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Meanwhile, did Marduk indeed get to wither, General?

NEXT WEEK: FROM EXILE TO EXIT

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Understanding Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework: Industrial Action

19th October 2020

In Botswana, the Trade Disputes Act, 2016 (“the Act”) provides the framework within which trade disputes are resolved. This framework hinges on four legs, namely mediation, arbitration, industrial action and litigation. In this four-part series, we discuss this framework.

In last week’s article, we discussed the second leg of Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework-arbitration. In this article, we discuss the third leg, namely industrial action.

Industrial action is generally defined as a situation where the employer and employees use their bargaining power to exert pressure on the other to achieve a particular result. It entails such things as strikes and lockouts.  In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, Industrial action means “a strike, lockout or action short of a strike, in furtherance of a trade dispute”.

In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, “a strike means the cessation of work by a body of employees in any trade or industry acting in combination or under a common understanding or a concerted refusal or a refusal under a common understanding by such body of employees to continue work.”

A lock-out is the employees’ equivalent of a strike. In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, a lock-out is defined as “ the closing of a place of employment by an employer in any trade or industry or the suspension of work by such an employer or the refusal by such an employer to continue to employ any number of his or her employees in that trade or industry.”

While on a strike, employees use their numbers to inflict economic pain on the employer by withdrawing their labour, in a lock-out, the employer uses its power by not providing employees with work, thereby inflicting economic harm on them in terms of the ‘no-work, no pay’ principle.
In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, an action short of a strike means “any method of working (other than the method of working commonly known as working to rule) undertaken by a body of employees in any trade or industry acting in combination or under a common understanding, which method of working slows down normal production or the execution of the normal function under their contracts of employment, of the employees undertaking such method of working.”

In terms of section 42(1) (a) of the Act, it is obligatory to refer a dispute of interest for mediation before resorting to a strike or lockout. Also, in terms of section 42(1) (b) of the Act, a party must give the other party a 48-hour notice before the commencement of a strike or lockout. In terms of section 43(1) of the Act, before a strike or lockout commences, the parties have to agree on the rules regulating the action, failing which the mediator must determine the rules in accordance with any guidelines published in terms of section 53 of the Act.

These rules include those concerning the conduct of the strike or lockout and any conduct in contemplation or furtherance of the strike or lockout including picketing and the use of replacement labour. In terms of section 43(2) of the Act, the latter is, however, subject to the provisions of subsection (4) of the Act.

Employers are not allowed to engage replacement labour if the parties have concluded an agreement on the provision of a minimum service. In terms of section 43(3) of the Act, such prohibition also applies if no minimum service agreement is concluded within 14 days of the commencement of the strike or lockout.

In terms of section 43(4) of the Act, a trade union is allowed to picket outside the employer’s premises during a strike or lockout if the parties have concluded an agreement on the provision of a minimum service or if no such agreement is concluded within 14 days of the commencement of the strike or lockout.

The Act prohibits strikes and lockouts that do not comply with the aforesaid provisions or an agreed procedure. The prohibition also applies if the strike or lockout is in breach of a peace clause in a collective labour agreement.

In terms of section 45(1) of the Act, strikes or lockouts are also regarded as unprotected if the subject matter of the strike or lockout is not a trade dispute, is regulated by a collective labour agreement, is a matter that is required by the Act to be referred for arbitration or to the Industrial Court for adjudication, or is a matter that the parties to the dispute of interest have agreed to refer for arbitration.

In terms of section 47 of the Act, employees in essential services are not allowed to take part in a strike. Similarly, employers in essential services are not allowed to take part in a lockout. It is, however, worth noting that, although an essential service employee who engages in a strike commits an offence and is, in terms of section 48(1) of the Act, liable to a fine not exceeding P 2 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both, there is no punishment for an essential service employer who locks out its employees.

In terms of section 48(2) of the Act, the punishment applicable to an essential service employee who engages in a strike, is also applicable for any person who causes, procures, counsels or influences any essential service employee to engage in a strike.

Where there is a trade dispute involving parties in an essential service, it should be reported to the Commissioner by an organisation acting on behalf of the employer, employers or employees. The provisions of section 6(3) apply in respect of a report of the trade dispute made in accordance with section 6 (1).

Where a trade dispute is reported in accordance with that section, it is deemed to have been reported to the Commissioner under section 6. Where there is failure to settle a trade dispute reported to the Commissioner in accordance with section 6 (2) within 30 days from the day on which the trade dispute was reported, the Commissioner may immediately refer the trade dispute to an arbitrator if the dispute is a dispute of interest, except in the case of a collective dispute of interest where the employees are represented by a trade union, or to the Industrial Court if the trade dispute is a dispute of right.

*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or HYPERLINK “mailto:anmorima@gmail.com” anmorima@gmail.com

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