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Respect for the Presidency is a constitutional imperative!


Of late, especially since His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, assumed power, there has been several instances or demeanors which, by all standards, show lack of respect for the presidency and the President.

It is needless to state the presidency is a constitutional office, it being established in terms of section 30 of the Constitution of Botswana which provides that ‘there shall be a President of the Republic of Botswana who shall be Head of State.’ Though they do not form part of the presidency per se, the offices of the First President and Former Presidents are also constitutional offices which deserve respect. In terms of section 30 of the Constitution of Botswana, the president is the Head of State. This effectively makes him or her synonymous with the state, especially in the eyes of the international community.

It, therefore, follows that a nation which disrespects its presidency effectively disrespects itself and lowers its own esteem in the eyes of the international community. Respect for the presidency is a duty that all of us have regardless of party affiliation, class or socio-economic status. It is a constitutional imperative into which we are all enjoined to breathe life. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong with nick names, but one becomes uncomfortable when the President is called with a nickname, especially one which can easily be used to demean his or her person.

I have always been uncomfortable with H.E Dr. Masisi being called by the nick name ‘Sisboy’. Firstly, he is not a boy, but a grown man with a family. Secondly, the name has sometimes been used in a derogatory manner, especially in social media. Therefore, while the name may work for him politically since it gives an impression that he is an easy-going person, especially among the youth, it is honestly not befitting for a person holding the high Office of President.

Of course, it is H.E Dr. Masisi himself who, while he was still Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, referred to himself as lelope, a boot licker. But it becomes concerning when he is continually referred to as lelope, especially when that is taken out of the context in which he used the word at the time.

Recently, following media reports that a helicopter transporting H.E Dr. Masisi and other persons had to make priority landing in Francis town, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Selibe Phikwe West, Honourable Dithapelo Koorapetse, made averments to the effect that H.E Dr. Masisi wanted to commit suicide. Politics aside, such a statement shows disrespect for not only H.E Dr. Masisi himself, but also the presidency and, by implication, the country because the president, as Head of State, represents the country.

This unfortunate statement had the potential to affect Botswana economically since the country’s economic outlook could be downgraded because investors would regard our country as unstable. Understandably, Honourable Koorapetse suffered a backlash from several people from across the political divide through social media. I am, however, disappointed that instead of just condemning his statement, some hurled insults at him. I may have missed it, but I have not seen an apology from Honourable Koorapetse. If he has not yet apologized, he may well be advised to apologize for to err is human.

I must hasten to state that calling for people to exercise respect and restraint in dealing with the presidency does not mean people should be denied the right to exercise their freedom of speech and expression. People, including such Opposition politicians as Honourable Koorapetse, can still exercise their freedom of speech and expression without showing contempt for the presidency.

I am reluctant to say this because it may be construed wrongly, but I have to say it. Assessed objectively, some statements that have been uttered or published in relation to the president could easily fall within the realm of compromising national security, something which could result in criminal charges. It goes without saying that such an eventuality must be avoided at all costs, for if it happens it will, no doubt, give rise to talk that people are persecuted for exercising their freedom of speech and expression.

It becomes even more precarious if a politician, like Honourable Koorapetse, is involved because if the state charges them, it can easily be accused of political intolerance and persecution, especially now that we are in the run-up to the general elections. Of course, as has happened before, some state agencies may, in an effort to appease the President, abuse their powers, and charge even those who exercise their rights in a bona fide way. Thankfully, our courts would quash such action as they have done before.

As stated before, though they do not form part of the presidency per se, the offices of the First President and Former Presidents also deserve respect. Thankfully, no disrespect has been shown to our First President, the late Sir. Seretse Khama. Regrettably, the same cannot be said about our former presidents, especially H.E Dr. Masisi’s predecessor, Lietenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

Insults and racist slurs have been hurled at him through social media, especially since his conflict with H.E Dr. Masisi became heightened. He has even been referred to merely as ‘Ian’ in intonations and contexts which could only suggest racism. I was, however, heartened, when H.E Dr. Masisi condemned those who insult Dr. Khama, reaffirming the notion that he should be respected not only because he is a human being, but also because he is a former president.

When he was still the people’s favourite, referring to him as ‘Ian’ was only regarded as affectionate, but today it is sometimes used as a derogatory name. It is for this reason that I detest H.E Dr. Masisi being referred to as ‘Sisboy’ because while the name may be used affectionately today, it may, in future, be used in a disparaging way when he is no longer the peoples’ darling. Respect for the presidency and the President should, however, not only come from the citizens. It should also come from the presidency and the President himself.

Put differently, in as much as the citizens are expected to respect the presidency and the President personally, the presidency and the President also have a duty to respect the citizens. The Setswana adage ‘susu ilela suswana gore suswana a tle a go ilele’ cannot have been more apt for, normally, respect begets respect.

I pray to God that this will not be construed as giving an excuse for those who disrespect the presidency and the President, but I must state that in some instances the presidency and the President have not acted in a manner that shows that ‘ba ilela suswana gore suswana a tle a ba ilele.’ Such statements that H.E Dr. Masisi has become known for as ‘lo mo siele metsi’ and ‘go tshamekelwa ko dipipiring’ may be entertaining to some, but are unpresidential, to say the least.

I was saddened when H.E Dr. Masisi, during his party’s launch of its Parliamentary candidate for Lobatse constituency, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, in Lobatse last weekend, reportedly invited the Botswana Movement for Democracy(BMD)’s Nehemiah Modubule to join the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) ‘gore atle a phailelwe.’  Expectedly, following such utterance social media became abuzz with responses, most of which bordered on insults and other affronts of like nature.

I say expectedly because the phrase ‘go phailela’ is often used to mean the extension of sexual favors in gratuitous ways. H.E Dr. Masisi, himself gifted in Setswana language, knows that and he should never have used the phrase in that context. Even those who interpreted the phrase conservatively, understood H.E Dr. Masisi to have been insinuating that if Nehemiah Modubule joins the BDP he will be favored with government tenders, something which suggests corruption.

H.E Dr. Masisi, knowing full well that there is an impression that the BDP often uses government tenders to induce those from the Opposition to defect to the BDP, should never have uttered such words. As you may well be aware, more disdainful statements have been made against H.E Dr. Masisi and Dr. Khama. I have elected not to cite them to avoid giving them more publicity. For all a country’s citizens, despite their differences, respect for the presidency and the President should be a constitutional imperative worth defending like all aspects of democracy are worth defending and dying for.

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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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