It dated back to the third millennium BC and served Egyptian Pharaohs
In March 1904, WM Flinders Petrie, a British archaeologist and the most renowned of his era, set off for the Sinai Peninsula accompanied by a small retinue of assistants. Their specific destination was a rugged outcrop called Serabit El Khadim. The expedition’s brief was to survey the old copper and turquoise mining region of the Sinai Peninsula under the auspices of the Egyptian Exploration Fund, the mission’s sponsors.
The mission was not entirely objective: it had strings. A fundamental, if not inviolable, objective of the sponsors was “the promotion of surveys and excavations for the purpose of elucidating or illustrating the Old Testament narrative”. In other words, the beneficiaries of the sponsorship were expected to come up with a report that validated what was contained in the Bible and not one that gainsaid or discredited it. Petrie duly undertook to abide by this precept though at the end of the day he threw away the script anyway. He would later publish the expedition’s findings in a book he titled Researches in the Sinai in 1906.
Exactly what were the expedition’s findings, which put Petrie at odds with his sponsors and to the extent where they pulled the plug on sponsorship of his onward biblically-based archaeological endeavours? We will only focus on what is relevant for our purpose. At an altitude of about 70 metres, Petrie happened upon the ruins of an ancient temple which extended from a great man-made cave. The temple structure has been described as “a series of adjoining halls, shrines, courts, cubicles, and chambers, all set within a surrounding enclosure hall”.
The temple’s inscriptions, pillars, cartouches, and stelas denoted Egyptian pharaohs down the ages and dated back to the third millennium BC, more than 1000 years before Moses’ time. The pharaohs ascribed to extended from the 4th dynasty (circa 2600 BC) to the 20th dynasty (circa 1070 BC), representing an operative use of the temple for about 1500 years. “The whole of it was buried,” writes Flinders, “and no one had any knowledge of it until we cleared the site.”
Of particular note was the HALL OF HATHOR, the temple proper. It transpired that Hathor, the adopted Egyptian goddess, was the sole object of veneration in the temple. Hathor as you know was the fair-minded Anunnaki goddess known as Ninmah or Ninharsag in the Sumerian records. She was the half-sister of Enlil, the Bible’s principle Jehovah, and the step sister of Enki, the “Serpent of Genesis” who genetically engineered Adam from the genes of Homo Erectus and a young Olmec, a dark-skinned Anunnaki.
Before the Anunnaki spaceport in the Sinai Peninsula was nuked by Ninurta, Enlil’s firsborn son, in 2024 BC, Ninmah was its resident goddess. It’s small wonder, therefore, that she could be worshipped in the very environs she had long been associated with. Some of the items unearthed in the Hall of Hathor were a limestone stela of Ramesses I, the pharaoh under whom the Israelites were freed in 1335 BC, and a bust of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s (Moses’) mother Tiye, who as you now know was the daughter of the patriarch Joseph, or Yuya to the Egyptians. Altogether, Petrie’s party removed some 463 items from the temple. Which of these was the most sensitive and therefore had the effect of setting Petrie on a collision course with his sponsors?
OF LONGEVITY AND THE FIELD OF MFKZT
Much of the material the Petrie team excavators found in Hathor’s temple was not exactly out of the ordinary. But three things particularly riveted their attention. These were a METALLURGIST’S CRUCIBLE, a considerable stash of PURE WHITE POWDER (“many tons of it” in Petrie’s own words) concealed beneath carefully laid flagstones, and a mysterious term, MFKZT, which enjoyed repeated mention on the temple walls and a number of stelas.
What was a metallurgist’s crucible doing in a religious chamber? What was the exact nature of the white powder? And what was this other jigsaw called Mfkzt? Unbeknownst to Petrie and his team, Mfkzt had long been alluded to in ancient Egypt’s sacred writings known as The Pyramid Texts, which were set down on the walls of the pyramid tomb of King Unnas of the 5th dynasty. The texts describe Mfkzt as a stone.
Nor was the Petrie party aware that relatively recently, in1667, Eirenaeus Philalethes, an alchemist who was held in very high esteem by even the likes of Isaac Newton, published a work he titled Secrets Revealed. In the book, he called attention to the “Philosopher’s Stone”. This Stone was capable of converting base metals such as zinc and lead to gold, a process dubbed alchemy. YET THE STONE WAS GOLD ITSELF.
This is the way Philalethes expatiated on it: “Our Stone is nothing but gold digested to the highest degree of purity and subtle fixation”. In a further work he produced in 1668, titled A Brief Guide to the Celestial Ruby, Philalethes expanded on his definition of the Philosopher’s Stone thus (the emphasis is ours): “It is called a Stone by virtue of its fixed nature: it resists the action of fire as successfully as any stone. In species it is gold, more purer than the purest. It is fixed and incombustible like a stone, but ITS APPEARANCE IS THAT OF A VERY FINE POWDER.”
Mfkzt was gold powder though it was referred to as a stone. It emerged that what Petrie and his team had stumbled upon was an Ormus-manufacturing setting. The Ormus was meant for Egyptian pharaohs and was punted as “a giver of life”. How? Firstly, it was the Fountain of Youth: it made the pharaohs live way much longer than ordinary mortals (true, some pharaohs did die at very tender ages but these were in all likelihood tactfully poisoned in veiled assassinations, whereas others, like Tutankhamen, were violently killed).
The ancients who were initiated into secret knowledge through mystery schools believed, or were aware that, a being was made up primarily of two bodies – the physical body and the light body. Both the two needed to be fed to be in sound health because they complemented each other: if one was lacking in one way or the other, it affected the other. Whereas the physical body needed to be sustained on material food substances, the light body, which was also known as the KA, needed to be fed on light. But this was not sunlight:
it was a euphemism for Ormus. Since consuming Ormus instilled deeper intellectual, spiritual, and metaphysical insights, it was known as GNOSIS. In other words, Gnosis enabled its partaker to access knowledge pertaining to the realm of advanced enlightenment (the Afterlife). The Syro-Phoenicians referred to this realm as the PLANE OF SHARON, meaning the Dimension of Light, with light in this context denoting the centrality of Ormus. Indeed, at Serabit, the Petrie party took note of the traditional hieroglyph of light – a point within a circle – in a section of the Hathor Temple dubbed the Shrine of Kings, that is, pharaohs.
Second, when pharaohs were on their death bed, they used Ormus to directly translate to the Afterlife even as they drew breath – the reason it was called the Powder of Projection. In other words, they simply drifted off into the Hereafter without tasting death, as if dying in sleep. When this happened, their only physical remains, their corpse, was nothing but pure white gold dust – the same Ormus which had made them vanish into the Afterlife.
It was this powder that was preserved as their “mummy” inside their pyramid tombs. Evidence of this has been found in the tombs of the pharaohs of the 4th dynasty, (c. 2613 to 2494 BC), namely Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, whose mummies have never been found: instead, a white powder was found inside their resting places.
In The Pyramid Texts, the place in which King Unnas is said to live forever with the gods in the aftermath of his death is called the Field of Mfkzt. And in The Book of the Dead, the world’s oldest complete book, the pharaoh throughout his journey into the blissful realm of the departed continues to utter the phrase, “What is it?”. THIS IS CODE FOR ORMUS. It is from the Hebrew term meaning “what is it” that the biblical word “Manna” is translated. Thus as he journeyed to his eternal abode in his light body, the pharaoh kept up a chant extolling the wonder of Ormus!
“GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD”
One other thing that caught the attention of the Petrie party was the occurrence several times of the word “bread” and portrayals of the tendering of objects described as bread on the walls of the Hathor Temple. There was a rock tablet showing a representation of a man, who stood behind Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV and the goddess Hathor, bearing a conical object called “white bread”.
There was a stela depicting Ankhib, a mason, offering two conical bread cakes to Tuthmosis IV. Another shows Sobekhotep, Amenhotep III’s treasurer, holding in readiness a conical loaf of white bread in the presence of both the pharaoh and the goddess Hathor. Two more round-topped stelas feature Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep III. Tuthmosis is portrayed presenting a conical white bread loaf to the god Amen-Ra (Marduk) “so that he may be given life”.
The one that shows Amenhotep III presenting a conical loaf to a different god says, “He gave the gold of reward, the mouth rejoiced”. THIS SUGGESTS IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS THAT THIS BREAD WAS MADE OF GOLD AND IT WAS AT ONCE A SUSTAINER OF TEMPORAL LIFE AND A PROJECTOR INTO AN ETERNAL SUPER-DIMENSIONAL REALM OF EXISTENCE.
Bread, as we already know, was a cryptic word for Ormus because it was ordinarily mixed with ingredients that go into making bread during the wilderness years. The phrase, “give us our daily bread” in the so-called Lord’s Prayer (which was purloined from a routine prayer Egyptians uttered to their national god Marduk) does not refer to ordinary bread: it refers to Ormus, which ancient kings, from Sumerian to pharaonic times, partook on a daily basis. It is also significant that the birthplace of Jesus is Bethlehem, meaning “House of Bread”.
Once again, this is not the usual bread; it is Ormus. Ancient Bethlehem must have been the Ormus production hub of Palestine. It was this same bread, called shewbread in the Old Testament, that was set on a table in the Tabernacle. It was also known as the “Bread of the Presence” in that it was shown off to God’s symbolic presence as it represented the eternal life conferred by God.
In EXODUS 25; 29-31, we’re told that shewbread was manufactured at Mount Horeb by Benzeleel, a skilled goldsmith. Goldsmiths or artisans of any kind are not into baking bread. Clearly, this was not bakery type bread but Ormus. The shewbread did have a flour component alright but its basic ingredient was gold or silver or both. Among the treasures of Tuthmosis III as reproduced in a bas relief at the Karnak Temple are a number of cone-shaped items appearing under the metals section.
They are described as “white bread” and the explanation says they are made of one part silver and thirty-parts gold. The conical stones the Petrie team found along with the pure white powder were symbolic of something profound – superconductive gold dust which in day to day language was disguised as a “stone”, the Philosopher’s Stone.
MESSAGE IN STATUE OF MELCHIZEDEK
The first mention of Ormus in its edible form in the Bible is encountered not in the time of Moses but in that of Abraham. In GENESIS 14:18, we’re told that General Abe, after repulsing the eastern military alliance, was presented with “bread and wine” by Melchizedek, the Priest-King of Jerusalem who was in fact his father Terah.
At Chatres Cathedral in France stands a statue of Melchizedek, who presents forth a stone in a chalice rather than wine in a chalice. The cathedral was designed by the Knights Templar and operationalised by a guild of freemasons known as the Children of Solomon. Freemasons, particularly those who occupy the higher echelons of the order (that is, beyond 33 degrees) possess an awful amount of knowledge which the general denizens of the planet such as you and I know very little or nothing about. So what are the Freemasons trying to convey to the public in the Statue of Melchizedek?
First, let us appreciate that THE CHALICE REPRESENTS THE GRAIL WOMB. This womb contains the cosmic royal blood that dates back to the SSS World, the throne planet of the Orion Empire. This cosmic royal family is otherwise known as the SANGREAL (meaning “Royal Blood”) or the DESPOSYNYI. At the cosmic level, it started with the Orion Queen, the mother of Enki. At the level of our planet, it started with Cain, who was the son of Enki by an Earthling woman known as Titi-Eve. This Grail family progressed from Cain all the way to Jesus.
In modern times, it was represented by the Merovingian and the Scottish Kings known as the Stuarts. The last famous member of the Grail family was Princess Diana, though the linear descendant is the marginalised, maligned, and even ridiculed (by the Western establishment) Prince Michael of Albany.
So what is the Statue of Melchizedek telling us? IT IS SAYING THE GRAIL GENETIC LINE (REPRESENTED BY THE CHALICE) HAS BEEN SUSTAINED OVER THE AGES BY ORMUS, THE BREAD STONE CONTAINED IN THE CHALICE. How so? As we explained above, consuming Ormus imparts Gnosis – transcendent knowledge of both the reality in which we are (this counterfeit universe) and the higher dimension to which we proceed after death. Knowledge is power: if you know something critical, vital, and fundamental others do not, you can achieve your every goal and meet every aspiration in life. You practically become omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent in a manner of speaking.
The so-called Holy Communion is a throwback to the very first that was held between Terah and Abraham in the 2nd millennium BC. In the Bible, as well in Sumerian records, it is said the sacraments in the Abraham-Terah communion were bread and wine. Bread as we now know stands for Ormus. What about the wine? Well, it was not wine actually: it was AMBROSIA, an extract of menstruum. We have long highlighted that Ambrosia has properties that approximate those of Ormus.
Thus bread, wine, and stone are all interchangeable: they are talking about one and the same thing – Ormus. Indeed, in 1 CORINTHIANS 10:3, Manna (Ormus) is described as spiritual food; in JOHN 6:31-41, it is ratified as the true Bread of the Eucharist, the Holy Communion. And REVELATION 2:7 says; “To him that overcometh, I’ll give to eat of the hidden Manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name which no man knows except the one who receiveth it.” This is Ormus being talked about here.
“LAST SUPPER” INVOLVED ORMUS
In the gospels, we see Jesus preside over a “meal” that is famously known as the Last Supper. In other words, it was the last Holy Communion which Jesus participated in. In truth, it was the first and last Holy Communion he took part in as henceforth he was to disappear from the public domain.
The Last Supper was not an ordinary meal: it involved partaking of Ormus. If you recall, we did in earlier articles call attention to the fact that the reason why the Essenes, a Jewish religious sect to which Jesus belonged, settled at Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea was because that sea was rich in Ormus, which they happily extracted. Even today, high-quality Ormus, such as Vancouver Island Ormus, is obtained from the Dead Sea.
During Holy Communion, Ormus was administered to those in attendance by the Essene High Priest. At the time of the Last Supper, the Essene High Priest was Jonathan Annas, also known as Nathaniel. But that night Jesus challenged him for the position for two reasons. First, the linear High Priest, John had been killed and since he had no heir, the position was technically vacant.
Second, King David had been designated Priest-King by Jehovah-Enlil (“The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” as per PSALM 110:4) and so Jesus reckoned that with John deceased, he deserved the title of Priest-King since he was at once a descendant of David (from his father’s side) and a descendant of Aaron (from his mother’s side). That’s how Jesus won the day.
Put differently, Jesus administered the Last Supper after the order of Melchizedek, as only a Priest-King or a High Priest had the right to preside over the Ormus meal. King David had waived that right and entrusted it to Zadok the High Priest. But Jesus did not have a qualifying person to delegate it to since John had no heirs. He was thus the only qualifying candidate.
At an economically tumultuous juncture of our country’s history as we presently are, where unemployment has become something of a Gordian Knot conundrum, a promisingly ameliorational pursuit known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is well worth exploring as a salvavic option.
One pundit defines BPO as “a subset of outsourcing that involves contracting the operations and responsibilities for a particular business process to a third-party service provider.” Examples of BPO services, which invariably do not constitute a company’s core or primary mission, include inbound and outbound call centres, live chat, bookkeeping, web development, research marketing, accounting and finance, and after-hours call answering services. BPO is driven, fundamentally, by the imperative of cost-cutting and overrides national boundaries through the employment and deployment of technologies that make human and data communications easier, thus lending credence to the concept of the global village that is today’s world.
BPO had been in existence in its primordial form since as early as the 19th century but it was not until the 1980s that its latter-day incarnation loomed larger and the term outsourcing became part of daily business parlance. Today, every continent is into BPO, including the economic Dark Horse called Africa. The Global IT-BPO Outsourcing Deals Analysis segments BPO buyer regions into three categories. These are North and South America (42 percent); Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (35 percent); and Asia and Oceania 23 percent.
In a Third World country such as Botswana, overseas-oriented BPO is key to bringing in those paramount hard currencies besides engendering a radical turnaround in the all too dingy joblessness picture. But are we up to it folks? Have we gotten aboard the bandwagon or we are virtual spectators watching nonchalantly as the BPO locomotive streaks away at breakneck speed?
JAX’S FLASH-IN-THE-PAN SUCCESS
The extent to which BPO has taken root in Botswana is not apparent. The first time I heard of it was in August 2007, when the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA), then going by the name Botswana Training Authority (BOTA), put it on record at a one-day IFSC-organised conference that they were in the process of developing standards for the nascent BPO industry in Botswana whilst they benchmarked with Mauritius, the UK, and South Africa. Little, if anything at all, has been heard of their progress since.
In February 2018, The Botswana Guardian reported of the newly-established Direct BPO, a fully-owned subsidiary of Mascom, which was looking to employing 400 people at the very outset. Once again, details as to how Direct BPO, whose establishment coincided with Mascom’s 20-year anniversary, has fared to date remain sketchy.
Perhaps the most spectacular case of a BPO operation in Botswana was that of Oseg, a company begun by Majakathata Pheko, affectionately known as Jax, in 2003 under the Debtsolve franchise umbrella. Oseg, which comprised of three divisions, offered customer management and financial services solutions and operated out of Gaborone and Windhoek in Namibia, where it touted MTN as its principal client. Oseg did receivable management for local financial blue chips such as Barclays Bank, FNB, Bayport, MVA, Botswana Insurance Company, Letshego, and Standard Chartered, and in due course CEDA and Mascom. It also served the Australian offshore market. Its account receivable division was the biggest in Botswana, handling over 60,000 accounts and managing a portfolio of over P400 million.
At its height, Oseg employed 150 people and had spent over P15 million on cutting edge technology and manpower training. In 2007, Oseg was nominated for Best Non-European Contact Centre at the CCF Awards held that year in Birmingham, UK, the “Oscars of the industry”.
Then in 2016, the sky seemed to have fallen. Oseg found itself saddled with an odious P4.4 million debt, with its staff resultantly trimmed to just under 50. According to media reports, Jax pointed to his own bankrollers and their partners in the alleged crime as his rather devious saboteurs. “I have evidence that powerful people in the bank and a cabal of friends both inside and outside the bank were intentionally and aggressively looking for ways to weaken Oseg, tarnish its name and diminish its value as they were in the same competing business interests, in the call centre and the factoring business,” the then youthful entrepreneur, who was only 41 at the time, bemoaned.
Jax reported the matter to NBFIRA and what came of that, not to mention the continued viability of his business, I have not been able to establish. I just hope and trust that Jax personally weathered the tempest as I have it on good authority that he is doing fairly well.
BOTSWANA MISSING OUT ON DOLLAR-DENOMINATED BILLIONS
For emerging economies, and even peripheral Third World countries, the BPO business can be something of a gold mine. According to the latest McKinsey report, the global BPO industry is valued at $163 billon and is expected to grow at $183 billion by the year 2023.
In the Philippines, BPO, which began with a call centre setup way back in 1992, accounts for 11 percent of GDP, the single biggest contributor to the nation’s economic activity. It employs 1.3 million people in over 700 outsourcing companies. One company, called Teleperformance, alone employs 47,000 people in 21 sites. In 2019, the BPO sector generated revenues of the order of $26.3 billion.
In India, the BPO sector, now 30 years old, provides direct employment to 2 million people and indirect employment to 8 million. In 2019, the BPO income overall amounted to $8.6 billon. In Mauritius, the ICT/BPO sector contributed 6 percent to GDP in 2019, representing a key driver of the Mauritian economy. The BPO sector is responsible for 53 percent of the 27,000 people employed in the ICT/BPO superstructure in 850 companies.
According to the Economic Development Board of Mauritius, leading multinationals such as Accenture, Huawei, Aspen Pharmacare and Allianz have back office operations in Mauritius. In addition, a number of international payroll companies currently use Mauritius as a service delivery centre.
Kenya is also looking to position itself as a hub for global digital BPO, notably through government promotion schemes such as Ajira. According to the ITC Authority of Kenya, the market size for online work was estimated to be $4.8 billion in 2016 and was projected to generate $15 billon by 2020. With only 7000 people employed in the BPO industry in the country, we are talking about a modest figure though it is still brisk compared to the rather lugubrious situation in Botswana. Clearly, there are billions in US dollar terms to be had in BPO and we are missing out on these big time.
MZANZI LEAVES BW IN THE DUST
Yet it is Big Brother next door from whom we have precious much to glean as he is our immediate competitor potentially in the BPO race. Remember, if our IFSC continues to flounder to date, it is largely on account of the fact that in Mzansi, we have a formidable rival right on our doorstep.
As we speak, the South African BPO sector is valued at $461 million going by the invariably authoritative McKinsey survey. It employs 270,000 people in six cities, a figure projected to more than double to 775,000 by 2030. Of the current total staff base, 65,000 serve international clients. That South Africa has made such enormous strides in the BPO arena is meritoriously earned and not simply fortuitous. It has been voted the second most attractive BPO location in the world for three years on the trot.
The South African BPO sector is tipped to grow by 3 percent per annum over the next three years, a rate which is in line with the trends in the global BPO space. There are currently over 100 local and international BPO providers operating in South Africa, with local players in the main serving large multinational customers. The industry’s key offshore business clientele is domiciled in English-speaking countries, notably the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, with 61 percent coming from the United Kingdom, 18 percent from the United States and Canada, and 11 percent from Australia.
In June this year, the $1.5 trillion-strong Amazon announced that it would be signing up a total of 3000 South Africans to help cater to its customers in North America and Europe, which is testament to the fact that the country’s BPO market continues to make waves in the Western world. If Jeff Bizos is impressed, you can count on the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg to follow suit too sooner rather than later.
A FORGONE OPPORTUNITY TO TURBO-CHARGE THE BPO INDUSTRY IN BOTSWANA
Empowerment Africa is an organisation that boasts a business network that enables established and emerging businesses to connect, partner, and create long-term value with Africa-based projects. With reportedly 3000 esteemed contacts, it liaises with governments, major corporations, and investors to facilitate business opportunities, deliver deal flow, and provide research across its network to the Empower Africa business community.
Empowerment Africa recommends seven countries in Africa with thriving outsourcing industries. They are Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, and Madagascar in that order. Botswana is conspicuous by its absence and that must be ample cause for concern to our Monetary Authorities, especially given that at least on paper, we are economically better off than three to four of these countries.
In 2015, Jax approached the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture and propositioned a joint partnership with Oseg in unlocking BPO potential in Botswana by looking at the public sector Debt Collection and Call Centre services for government. Jax reckoned that the total market for Receivables and Revenue collections sitting in Government and Parastatal organisations at the time amounted to over P3.5 billion, equivalent to 8% of the National Budget then. If the BPO sector was to be utilised to assist in collecting this debt, over 2700 jobs would be created.
Furthermore, considering that a typical government employee spent half the time attending to inquiries from members of the public, the exercise would result in improved efficiency delivery in government departments in addition to boosting government’s liquidity position.
This is what Jax said in a 50th independence anniversary publication in 2016 on the same subject. “Our estimations are that once all the collections work is outsourced, there is a potential to collect more than P100 million every month for the Government of Botswana.
The opportunity to create more than 2700 exists, which will help to mop out unemployed graduates and upskill them. The economic impact of 2700 jobs would support more than 15,000 people in the economy and also help to create jobs in other industries that support the BPO sector, and will stimulate the whole ICT sector. Over and above that, the outsourcing would stimulate the whole IT sector and help improve Botswana’s position as an ICT and Call Centre hub.”
Once again, I am not privy to what came of this proposition, but I am persuaded that had government acceded to it, the BPO business in the country would have quantum-leaped and we would today be waltzing on the proverbial Cloud 9 in terms of revenues generated. Even the road retarder Oseg encountered with its bankers would not have been a factor at all. As significant, we would in all probability have made it on Empowerment Africa’s short list for the continent’s pre-eminent BPO addresses.
THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF GOVERNMENT IN BOOSTING BPO FORTUNES
Granted, with the advent of the still latent E-Governance, the synergic potential with the Call Centre business is stupendous. As per Jax’s pitch to those who care to hear, “The outsourcing of the E-Governance and collections will greatly improve efficiency in service delivery in the government departments. Directing traffic and enquiries to a Call Centre would empower the BPO sector in such a way that would be able to help the public from all over the country from one central point 24 hours and 7 days week.
The Call Centres would also relieve Government of the pressure to develop brick and mortar representations/offices across the country. This would help to save billions of Pula as the public will be able to access the services from the comfort of their homes and villages. The Call Centre service would bridge the urban and rural division as everyone will now be able to access Government services and receive the same service.”
The real jackpot both to government and the broader citizenry, however, resides in the offshore market. With sales cycles in the BPO business taking up to 12 months, contracts typically run from five to seven years, which is sustained lucrativeness by any measure. It is in the direction of the overseas market that much of our energy should be focused, though wary that we do not recklessly neglect the domestic market, if we are to reinvigorate the BPO industry and get meaningful returns out of it.
Developed countries are all the more keen to outsource as one way to insulate their economies against severe hurt inflicted by globalwide economic tremors. For instance, it was thanks to offshore outsourcing that Australia so ably navigated the 2008 economic crisis. That year, IBM released a BPO report showing that 80% of Australian companies were willing to outsource from offshore companies to save 50% in expenses.
Here in Botswana, I would recommend that government be in the BPO vanguard by splashing on a whole host of catalytic factors. In South Africa, for instance, the Department of Industry, Trade and Competition devoted R1.3 billion between 2007 and 2018 to bolstering the BPO industry in one way or the other and committed a further R1.2 billion in 2019 alone, gestures which no doubt underlie the solid performance of the industry.
Even when the lockdowns were in progress, the industry was accorded essential services status so that it kept the momentum going. As if not to be outdone, the South African BPO industry body, Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA), has commendably done its part in aiding the growth of the industry by supporting skills development, sharing best practice, and providing its members with access to other business networks and associations that drive and influence the sector’s transition into the digital economy. In Mauritius, the Prime Minister himself, and not a man of lesser stature, directly oversees the BPO sector.
For Botswana to make a mark in the BPO arena, it has to build a reputation as a reliable, cost-effective, and high-quality destination for outsourced business services, attributes all of which South Africa excels in. In addition, South African BPO players provide higher-quality services owing to strength across five key areas: availability of skills, infrastructure, risk profile, business environment, and industry size. In Botswana, we will need to nurture some of these strengths with the instrumentality of government.
With the advent of COVID-19, it is of essence that traditional BPO providers build capabilities to enable rapid deployment and ramp-up of fully functional teams under crisis scenarios. Operational resilience, that is, the ability to pivot when an ordinarily disruptive set of circumstances hits, is key. South Africa demonstrated this capacity most eloquently when 90 percent of the workforce was able to switch to remote work in residential settings, when 50 percent of operations in key competing locations such as the Philippines and India came to a virtual standstill.
Lastly but by no means the least, a competitive currency is a reasonably efficacious undercutting strategy. In recent months, the South African Rand has significantly weakened against the US dollar, in which the cost of outsourcing is typically denominated, and this has enabled South African BPOs to compete more effectively with Asian offerings.
It concerns me that last year, the Pula appreciated by 1.6 percent against the SDR (Special Drawing Right), which is a compound of five currencies, namely the US dollar, the British Pound, the Euro, the Japanese Yen, and the Chinese Yuan. If that relatively ripped Pula trajectory persists, it will not help our BPO competitiveness at all Rre Moses Pelaelo.
Mighty Persian King ends Babylonian exile after 60 years
For all his euphoria and grandiose preparations for Nibiru King Anu’s prospective visit to Earth, General Atiku, Nebuchadnezzar didn’t live to savour this potentially highly momentous occasion. In fact, none of his next three bloodline successors were destined to witness up-close the return of the Planet of the Gods, as Nibiru was referred to in Sumerian and Egyptian chronicles.
Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC, having ruled for 43 years, missing Nibiru, which showed up circa 550 BC as we set down in The Earth Chronicles series, by a whisker. During the next 6 years, he had three successors in such an unconscionably short period of time. His immediate one was Merodach, his eldest son.
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 third leg of Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework-industrial action. In this article, we discuss the fourth leg, namely litigation at the Industrial Court. The Act does not define the term litigation. Litigation is generally understood to mean a situation where parties to a trade dispute take their dispute to a court, in this case the Industrial Court, for determination by a judge.
Just like an arbitrator, a judge’s decision is binding on the parties though they can, of course, appeal it. However, while an arbitrator must be acceptable to both parties, a judge does not have to be acceptable to the parties. A party can, however, apply for the judges’ recusal from the case for such reasons as reasonable apprehension of bias.
Before discussing litigation at the Industrial Court, it is apposite that a brief background of the origins and evolution of the Industrial Court be given. The original Trade Disputes Act (No. 19/1982) provided for disputes to be adjudicated, inter alia, by a Permanent Arbitrator. This is confirmed in Veronica Moroka & 2 Others v The Attorney General and Another, Court of Appeal Civil Appeal No. CACGB-121-17 at para 11.
The Industrial Court replaced the institution of the Permanent Arbitrator (Dingake Collective Labour Law in Botswana 23) following the enactment of the Trade Disputes Act (No. 23/1997) which, as confirmed in the Veronica Moroka case supra, came into force on 9 October 1997.
As per Kirby JP, in the Veronica Moroka case supra, the Industrial Court’s status “as a court was uncertain and no provision was made for it to be served by a Registrar, with the usual powers and duties of such office”.
The Court of Appeal, in Botswana Railways Organization v Setsogo and Others, 1996 BLR 763 CA, remedied this defect. It held that the Industrial Court was not a mere statutory tribunal, but was, in line with Section 127(1) of the Constitution of Botswana, a subordinate court, having limited jurisdiction.
Following the change of the definition of subordinate court by Act 2/2002 to exclude the Industrial Court, along with the Court of Appeal, the High Court and a court martial, the Industrial Court became a superior court, albeit still with limited jurisdiction unlike the High Court, for instance, which has inherent unlimited jurisdiction.
Consequently, appeals from the Industrial Court were referred to the Court of Appeal. Perhaps most significantly, according to Veronica Moroka, Industrial Court judges were now, just like High Court judges, protected by, inter alia, security of tenure.
The Trade Disputes Act was further amended and replaced by the Trade Disputes Act, 2003 which commenced on 6 April 2004 as Act No. 15 of 2004. Section 16(8) of this Act provided for the appointment of the Registrar and an Assistant Registrar, but still had no section clothing them with specific powers.
It, through section 20(3), also bestowed, in the Court, the power to hear urgent applications and, in terms of section 18(1), the power to grant interdicts, thereby remedying the defects identified in Botswana Railways Organization v Setsogo & Others supra, but it still had no provision dealing with writs of execution and sales flowing therefrom.
In terms of section 18(1) of the Act, the Industrial Court’s jurisdiction includes the power to hear and determine all trade disputes except disputes of interest as well as, in terms of section 20(1) (b) of the Act, the power to interdict any unlawful industrial action and to grant general interdicts, declaratory orders or interim orders.
In terms of section 20(1) (c) of the Act, the Industrial Court is also clothed with the power to hear appeals and reviews of the decisions of mediators and arbitrators respectively. It, in terms of section 20(1) (d) of the Act, has the power to direct the Commissioner to assign a mediator to mediate a dispute if it is of the opinion that the matter has not been properly mediated or requires further mediation.
In terms of section 20(1) (e) of the Act, the Industrial Court also has the power to direct the Commissioner to refer a dispute that is before the Court for arbitration. In terms of section 20(1) (f) of the Act, it has the power to refer any matter to an expert and, at the Court’s discretion, to accept the expert’s report as evidence in the proceedings.
The Industrial Court also has the power to give such directions to parties to a trade dispute provided the object of such directions is the expedient and just hearing and determination or disposal of any dispute before it.
In terms of section 20(2) of the Act, any matter of law and any question as to whether a matter for determination is a matter of law or a matter of fact is decided by the presiding judge. In terms of section 20(3) of the Act, with respect to all issues other than those referred to under section 20 (2), the decision of the majority of the Court prevails.
Where there is no majority decision under section 20 (3), the decision of the judge prevails. In terms of section 24(2) of the Act, any interested party in any proceedings under the Act may appear by legal representation or may be represented by any other person so authorised by that party.
In terms of section 28(2) of the Act, a decision of the Industrial Court has the same force and effect as a decision of the High Court, and because, unlike South Africa, Botswana has no Labour Appeal Court, decisions of the Industrial Court, just like those of the High Court, are, in terms of section 20(5) of the Act, appealable to the highest court in the land, that is, the Court of Appeal.
The Trade Disputes Act went through another amendment in 2016. Section 14 of the Act ensures the continuation of the Industrial Court. It outlines its functions as the settlement of trade disputes as well as the securing and maintenance of good industrial relations in Botswana.
In terms of section 15(1) of the Act, the judges of the Industrial Court are appointed by the state President from among persons possessing the qualifications to be judges of the High Court as prescribed under section 96 of the Constitution.
In terms of section 15(2) of the Act, these judges are headed by the President of the Industrial Court designated by the state President from among the judges.
In terms of section 15(4) of the Act, a judge of the Industrial Court who is not a citizen of Botswana or who is not appointed on permanent and pensionable terms may be appointed on contract basis and is eligible for reappointment.
In terms of section 15(5) of the Act, Judges of the Industrial Court sit with two nominated members, one of whom is selected by the judge from among persons nominated by the organisation representing employees or trade unions in Botswana and the other selected by the judge from among persons nominated by the organisation representing employers in Botswana.
In terms of section 15(6) of the Act, where, for any reason, the nominated members are or either of them is absent for any part of the hearing of a trade dispute, the jurisdiction of the court may be exercised by the judge alone or with the remaining member of the Court, whichever the case may be, unless the judge, for good reason, decides that the hearing should be postponed.
In terms of section 18(1) of the Act, An Industrial Court judge vacates office on attaining the age of 70 years, provided that the state President may permit him or her to continue in office for such period as may be necessary to enable him or her to deliver judgment or to do any other thing in relation to proceedings that had commenced before him or her.
In terms of section 18(2) of the Act, in accordance with the provisions of the proviso to section 96(6) of the Constitution, a person appointed to act as an Industrial Court judge vacates that office on attaining the age of 75 years.
In terms of section 19(1) (a) and (b) of the Act, an Industrial Court judge may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind, or from any other cause or for serious misconduct.
In terms of section 19(2) of the Act, the power to remove an Industrial Court judge from office vests in the state President acting in accordance with the procedure provided under section 97 of the Constitution for the removal of High Court judges.
*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 email@example.com