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Is Masisi delivering on his inaugural speech? (Part 9)

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH

This week, we are concluding the series through which we considered whether or not His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, is delivering on his inaugural speech promises, commitments and undertakings. 

Last week dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s assurance to Batswana that through such programmes as Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) and the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID), his government will continue to strive for and intensify the commercialisation of the agricultural sector.

We also dealt with his promise that his government will continue to monitor adherence to the Tourism Regulations of 1996 to accommodate the reservation of some license category for citizens which will subsequently increase their participation in tourism. We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi undertaking that his government will, additionally, rejuvenate the capacity of citizens to participate more meaningfully in the tourism sector, stating that steps will be taken to ensure that game farming, as an enterprise, is promoted so that it becomes attractive and profitable.

We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to table, before Parliament, specific legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities.  We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s reaffirmation that government will continue the HIV and AIDS interventions by combining treatment, care and support, stating that a rejuvenated attention on the major determinants of our national health practices including the manner of response to HIV and AIDS will be given.

This week, we deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise that, in line with the National Spatial Plan 2036, government will accelerate the function of spatial planning and access to land in order to give meaning to the aspirations of Batswana, especially the youth, stating that government will continue giving priority to the Youth when allocating land for agriculture and business purposes. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s affirmation that Botswana will continue upholding the principles of the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and separation of powers between the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature.

We also deal with his promise to maintain a neutral, apolitical and professional public service as one of the elements that Botswana prides herself with, urging all Batswana to be vigilant in order to maintain the peace and security that this country has enjoyed for more than five decades. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to be steadfast in the fight against corruption, stating that that is imperative if we are to safeguard the hopes and dreams of all Batswana for current and future generations.

We also deal with his undertaking to continue strengthening oversight institutions and exacting the full might of the law to ensure that the fight against corruption in all its forms and manifestations is won. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s commitment that though Botswana is a small country, in terms of population, he will ensure that she continues to play an important role in the promotion of such global issues as respect for human rights, democracy, good governance, the rule of law, as well as the maintenance of international peace and security.

We also deal with his commitment to ensure that the conduct of Botswana’s foreign relations contributes to national development and the improvement of the living standards of our people, promising that, under his leadership, our relations with other countries will be enhanced for the benefit of Botswana and her economy.

We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise that Botswana will continue contributing to regional efforts aimed at consolidating democracy, peace and security in the SADC region and beyond, stating that he will do his utmost to continually grow confidence in and of governance through a combination of new legislation, ethical codes and demonstrable and efficacious behaviours.

First, his promise that, in line with the National Spatial Plan 2036, government will accelerate the function of spatial planning and access to land in order to give meaning to the aspirations of Batswana. This is one area that H.E Dr. Masisi must prioritise if he is to have a lasting legacy for thousands of Batswana fail to realize their dreams because of lack of land. As it is, only the middle class and the rich are able to buy land since thousands are still on the Land Board’s waiting lists.

Second, his affirmation that Botswana will continue upholding the principles of the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and separation of powers. Thankfully, since rising to power H.E Dr. Masisi has not conducted himself or his government in a manner that is offensive to the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and separation of powers. 

Third, his promise to maintain a neutral, apolitical and professional public service. While Botswana’s public service is largely apolitical, especially at the lower echelons, the same cannot be said about it at the Permanent Secretary level. The Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi, for instance, is a known BDP sympathiser. Naturally, those serving under him align with the BDP in order to gain his favour.

On the contrary, those not sympathetic the BDP, especially trade union activists and leaders have suffered victimisation through unwarranted transfers and non-promotions, something which has led to some of them aligning with the BDP in order to gain favour. Fourth, his promise to be steadfast in the fight against corruption. Though he has not acceded to calls for a judicial commission of enquiry to investigate the National Petroleum Fund and Pension Fund scandals, since he assumed office a number of high-profile prosecutions involving a High Court judge and former cabinet minister have been commenced.

Also, though no charges have yet been preferred against him in relation to his alleged corrupt activities, the arrest, detention and search of former Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi, have made many believe in H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to fight corruption without fear or favour. Yet, some have been cautious in applauding him, fearing that he may be using the fight against corruption as a pretext to fight political battles in his party, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

This view became fortified when, during the build up to the BDP presidential elections, some BDP functionaries, mainly in the faction that supported Masisi’s challenger, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, were reported to be under investigation by either the DISS, Botswana Unified Revenue Service(BURS) or the Directorate on Corruption & Economic Crime(DCEC).  

Fifth, his promise to ensure that Botswana continues to play an important role in the promotion of such global issues as respect for human rights, democracy, good governance, the rule of law, as well as the maintenance of international peace and security. Even under Masisi’s rule, Botswana continues to be a beacon in as far as the aforesaid tenets of democracy are concerned. It is, however, disconcerting that, in terms of the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), she is deteriorating in good governance.

On the Rule of Law, overall, she scored 89.1%, scooping position 4, but considering the 10-year average of 2008 to 2017 she had an increasing deterioration of -5.7.  On Rights, overall, she scored 54.9%, taking position 14, but considering the 10-year average of 2008 to 2017 she had an increasing deterioration of -3.4.

Of course, this is a record which H.E Dr. Masisi inherited from his predecessor, but he was part of Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s government, in which he served as Vice President for about five years, during which time Botswana experienced the aforesaid deterioration. Sixth, his commitment to ensure that the conduct of Botswana’s foreign relations contributes to national development and the improvement of the living standards of our people.

If there is one thing that H.E Dr. Masisi has done well in the one year that he has been in office, it is repairing the damage that Dr. Khama had caused to our international relations and diplomacy. His reprioritisation of our relations with Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states means we can better leverage from the SADC Free Trade Area Agreement and the SADC/EU Economic Partnership Agreement. The affable relations he has reestablished with the African Union (AU) means we can better leverage from Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

H.E Dr. Masisi has relaunched Botswana into the world stage, potentially taking us back to the glory days of Dr. Khama’s predecessor, Festus Mogae and the late Sir Ketumile Masire in as far as international relations is concerned. Consequently, our chances of making maximum benefit from such international agreements as the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement and the United States sponsored African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have become enhanced.    

Since assuming office, H.E Dr. Masisi has worked tirelessly to mend bilateral relations which had soured during the Khama regime, for instance with the Peoples’ Republic of China, a relationship which, if properly nurtured, may create thousands of jobs for our people.
Not only that. H.E Dr. Masisi has travelled the globe, nurturing already existing bilateral relations and creating new ones. His recent visit to Qatar is likely to bring dividends to such sectors as agriculture, beef imports, hotels, and ICT, which Ambassador Manyepedza P Lesetedi says the Qataris are interested in.

Seventh, his promise that Botswana will continue contributing to regional efforts aimed at consolidating democracy, peace and security in the SADC region and beyond. One hopes that as H.E Dr. Masisi travels the world he, behind closed doors, urges his counterparts to uphold the democratic ideal as a prerequisite for the maintenance of peace and security.  Botswana’s recent statement that she is going back to the days of silent diplomacy is, however, concerning. Her silence in the face of human rights vilations by some countries, for instance, may be interpreted as approval of such.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

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

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

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

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

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

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

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

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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