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BDP Presidency: bloc voting or secret ballot?


If Dr. Pelonomi Venson Moitoi keeps her word to challenge His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, it will be the first time in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s history that the party presidency is contested.

Naturally, because this is unprecedented, it has highlighted the divisions not only within the ruling BDP, but also in the nation at large, with some of such divisions bordering on tribalism and sexism. This regrettable situation is, however, not the subject of this article’s discussion. In this article we discuss whether or not the BDP presidential elections should be done through bloc voting or by secret ballot.   

Recently some in the ruling BDP propagated the view that, because H.E Dr. Masisi is leading Dr. Pelonomi Venson Moitoi in regional nominations, there will be no need for secret ballot elections for the party presidency at the forth coming Special Congress. According to this view, because the delegates from the regions are bound by the regions’ mandate, there will be no need for elections by secret ballot. Rather, the party presidency will be determined by bloc voting.

In response to this, Dr. Venson Moitoi has threatened court action should the party violate the party constitution by using the so-called bloc voting and foregoing secret ballot elections for the party presidency. Article 29.1 of the BDP constitution provides that “when the Party is in power, the President of the Party shall be elected by secret ballot at a National Congress of the Party called by the Central Committee during every General Election Year…”

The plain interpretation of Article 29.1 is that since the BDP is in power and this is a general election year, the Central Committee is obliged to call a National Congress of the Party at which the President of the Party shall be elected by secret ballot. The manner in which these elections are conducted is outlined in Articles 29.2 and 29.3. Article 29.2 provides that “Each Region may nominate and submit one name of an aspirant candidate in good standing from any Region to the Secretary General not less than twenty-four hours before the commencement of the National Congress.”

The plain interpretation of Article 29.2 is that a Region is vested with the power to nominate a candidate not only from its Region, but also from any other Region. This clause does not clothe the Region with the power to itself elect a President. It merely nominates for election by delegates at the National Congress. If the drafters of the BDP constitution wanted the Regions’ nominations to be decisive they could have, in the constitution, provided that if one candidate gets a majority of regional nominations, a winner will be declared and the election by secret ballot would not be held.

But there is no such clause in the BDP constitution, rightly so because it would be a usurpation of the most integral power of the National Congress-the power to elect office bearers, including members of the Central Committee and the President of the Party. Article 29.3 provides that “Any other member in good standing of the Party may submit their name as an aspirant Candidate for the post of President of the Party to the Secretary General of the Party, not less than twenty-four hours before commencement of the applicable National Congress upon being sponsored, in writing, by not less than fifty delegates to the National Congress.”

The plain interpretation of Article 29.3 is that even if the majority of Regions may have nominated a particular candidate for the post of President of the Party, an individual member may submit his or her name as a candidate for the post of President of the Party, provided he or she has been sponsored, in writing, by not less than fifty delegates to the National Congress. Put simply, the Regions’ nominations are not binding on an individual member and do not oust an individual member’s right to stand for elections for the post of President of the Party if he or she desires.

Similarly, the Regions’ nominations do not oust members’ right to vote a candidate of their choice by secret ballot as prescribed by the supreme law of the Party- the constitution. Article 29.3.1 provides that “at the close of nominations in accordance with 29.2 and 29.3 above, the Secretary General shall publish the names of the aspirant candidates on the Notice Board for the benefit of every Delegate at the National Congress. A secret ballot election shall proceed in the normal course.”

The plain interpretation of Article 29.3.1 is that elections for the position of President of the Party are by secret ballot and not by show of hands or some predetermined method based on the Regions’nominations at Regional Congresses or any other fora. It is worth mentioning that this secret ballot election proceeds in the normal course, that is, in the normal way that secret ballot elections are held where an individual member, alone in secret, casts his or her ballot into one ballot box for a particular position.

This, in my view, discounts the possibility of any arrangement being made to have delegates to the National Congress voting as a bloc, for instance, Regional blocs. The Regions’ decisions remain as of persuasive nature, nothing more. Any attempt to give the Regions’ decisions binding authority through the so-called bloc voting will be flawed with the result that they will render such elections unconstitutional, unlawful and liable to be set aside by a court of law.

Such attempt or action will, in my view, violate Dr. Venson Moitoi and H.E Dr. Masisi’s rights and indeed the rights of other members of the BDP, and would, in no doubt, be offensive to Articles 13.1 and 13.2 of the constitution. Subject to Article 10 of the constitution, Article 13.1 gives a member of the BDP the right “…to exercise any right of election or vote which the member might have in terms hereof, or in terms of any other statute, regulation, ordinance, by-law or other legal provision.”

Article 13.2 gives a BDP member the right “…to be elected or appointed, under the Party Banner, to any position of leadership, or any office, within the Party or any other lawful institution which is not in discord with the objects and policies of the Party.” If delegates to the BDP National Congress are denied the right to vote through a secret ballot and are subjected to the so-called bloc voting, their rights in terms of Article 13.1 would be violated.

If Dr. Venson Moitoi and H.E Dr. Masisi’s rights to be properly voted for or against through a secret ballot as prescribed by the constitution and are subjected to the so-called bloc voting, their rights in terms of Article 13.2 would be violated. Considering that the BDP is a ruling party which, in all likelihood will win this year’s general elections, the way it conducts its internal elections, let alone for the position of party President who will invariably be the state President, should be of concern to us all.

Needless to state that if the BDP conducts its presidential elections in a manner that will not escape legal scrutiny the inevitable result will be a constitutional crisis for our nation state, something hitherto unknown in our democracy. Our conclusion is, therefore, simply this, that Article 29 of the BDP constitution, read in parts and as a whole, enjoins the BDP to hold its forthcoming elections for the position of Party President by secret ballot at the National Congress.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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