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Is Masisi using state agencies and functionaries to fight political battles?

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH

In any state where the rule of law reigns supreme, there is separation between the ruling party and the government. Consequently, no government functionary, including the political leadership, uses the state or state agencies to perpetuate the ruling party’s interests or to fight political battles. It is needless to say that one of the reasons why Botswana has gained international acclaim as a beacon of democracy is that there has, since independence, been a clear separation between the ruling party and the state.

I do not remember there being issues about former Presidents Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae using state agencies and functionaries to fight political battles. On the contrary, during Lietenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s era things changed, with the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM) and Permanent Secretaries to the President (PSPs), Eric Molale and Carter Morupisi, being used to fight the battles between government and the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) which was believed to be sympathetic to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

Of course, our founding president, the late Sir Seretse Khama, departed when I was still too young to know about political battles, but I have not heard any insinuations that he used state agencies and functionaries to fight political battles. However, since His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, assumed office, there has been suggestions that he is using state agencies and functionaries to fight political battles.

These suggestions gained momentum especially in view of the way H.E Dr. Masisi is perceived to have reacted to the challenge by Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi for Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s presidency. The truth is yet to be known, but rumours that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) are after Honourable Sampson Guma Moyo have left some wondering whether Hon. Guma Moyo is being punished for supporting Dr. Venson-Motoi in her challenge against H.E Dr. Masisi.

Today, about three months since he left the country, allegedly for South Africa, Hon. Guma Moyo is still in self-imposed exile, reportedly for fear of unwarranted arrest and persecution by the DISS. The dramatic arrest of the former Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi, a close confidant of Dr. Khama, by the DISS at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport upon arrival from a foreign trip also left tongues wagging, especially that no charge on corruption, for instance, as was anticipated, has, to date, been levied against him.

As we know, Col. Kgosi was later charged with two unanticipated counts of disclosing the identity of DISS agents, a matter that is still pending before the courts and, therefore, cannot be commented further on since it is sub judicie. Dr. Khama has allegedly had his own share of persecution by state agencies and functionaries, allegedly at the instruction of his protégé tuned nemesis, H.E Dr. Masisi.

Reportedly, the PSP, Carter Morupisi, has, without consultation with Dr. Khama, removed staff assigned to him as former president, a matter that was serious enough to warrant legal action by Dr. Khama, but was reportedly settled out of court and the Office of the President(OP) retracted its action. Despite being entitled to travel by air, Morupisi at one time reportedly denied Dr. Khama such privilege in what the latter believed were unwarranted circumstances. This also led to threat of legal action, and the matter was also reportedly settled out of court when Dr. Khama was reimbursed of the expenses he incurred when he chartered a private plane for the trip.

Then there was Dr. Khama’s visit to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a trip which government opposed and when Dr. Khama travelled nonetheless he was denied the attendant diplomatic protocol to which he is entitled as former president. Reportedly, in a swiftness uncommon of government, the security personnel who accompanied him were later subjected to a disciplinary process, which many regard as unwarranted because the officers, who are assigned to Dr. Khama, were merely performing their duty.

In an unprecedented step, Morupisi has issued press releases and addressed press conferences during which he used language against Dr. Khama which is unexpected of a civil servant towards a former president. Through those press releases and press conferences, it was clear that Morupisi knows he has the full backing of H.E Dr. Masisi. Indeed, it appears he has because H.E Dr. Masisi has not reprimanded him even for saying “Khama is a waste of time”, an utterance which is, at the very least, discourteous, but is, in my view, contemptuous, especially when uttered against a former president.

Of late, it appears H.E Dr. Masisi is preparing to have his government table an amendment to the President's (Pensions and Retirement) Act to clip Khama’s wings by removing the benefit of travelling by air. It also seems the Act will be amended by repealing or amending the provision that allows former presidents to work. It appears that contrary to known legal principles, the amendments may be made with retroactive effect so that they affect Dr. Khama. Of course, if this happens, it will be challenged in the courts.

Many believe that the reason H.E Dr. Masisi wants to clip Dr. Khama’s wings is that he wants to avoid a situation where he will fly around the country campaigning for the Opposition and the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) which is associated with Dr. Khama and Dr. Venson-Moitoi. They also believe that the intended prohibition to work is to avoid a situation where Dr. Khama will be effectively active in politics, but for the benefit of the Opposition, especially the BPF as well as launching the parliamentary candidates which he says he wants to see replace some BDP candidates.

In my view, there is credence to these views because before their relationship soured, H.E Dr. Masisi had no issue with Dr. Khama flying aeroplanes and political activism. In fact, at one point the BDP announced that Dr. Khama was going to be the face of its 2019 campaigns after his retirement as state president. Just this week, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commander, Lietenant General Placid Segokgo, issued a notice through which he indicated that Dr. Khama will no longer be allowed access to the BDF’s obstacle course at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks in Mogoditshane and the firing ranges and Animal Park since he is a retired soldier.

It is about twenty years since Dr. Khama retired from the BDF. The question is: why is this decision being made now? How can people not link the decision with the political fights between Dr. Khama and H.E Dr. Masisi? Therefore, while the decision may be justified since Dr. Khama is now a civilian, it raises suspicion that it was made following a directive from H.E Dr. Masisi.  You would also recall that in March this year, the BDF did not invite Dr. Khama to the commemoration of the Fallen Heroes held at the Three Chiefs Monument despite the fact that all Former Commanders were invited.

The BDF’s Director of Protocol and Public Affairs, Colonel Tebo Dikole,  justified that by stating that Dr. Khama was not invited because his designation as Former President precedes that of Former Commander. A convenient answer indeed, some would argue. In view of the aforegoing, it is difficult not to conclude that H.E Dr. Masisi is using state agencies and functionaries to fight his own political battles.

Of course, this is not to say that people who are suspected of committing crimes should not be charged, but justice should be the blind lady that she is.It cannot be that within the BDP, for instance, only those aligned to Dr. Khama and Dr. Venson-Moitoi have committed crimes. Such a coincidence is simply not fathomable.      

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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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