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What happened to Masisi’s ‘consultation’ on the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill?

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH

Last week, I promised that this week I will compare Botswana’s Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill with that of other countries, not only in Africa but the world over. When the promise was made, it was hoped that the Parliamentary debate on the Bill will still be ongoing by now. It was, therefore, hoped that such comparison would assist in the debate and would, hopefully, influence the outcome of the debate.

However, as you are aware, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) used its Parliamentary majority and rushed the Bill through the law making stages and passed it in the dead of night despite reservations, especially by the Opposition in Parliament. The cut-throat manner in which the BDP passed the Bill was reminiscent of the passage of the Intelligence and Security Services Bill, whose passage the Opposition in Parliament boycotted, leaving the BDP to pass it alone.

One could see that the BDP Members of Parliament (MPs) were acting on instructions to pass the Bill before Parliament was dissolved. Of course, such instructions often come from the party’s Parliamentary Caucus, but this time it was clear that they came from the President himself. It is common knowledge that the Intelligence and Security Services Act has been very divisive and has cost our country a lot, especially in as far as national unity and stability are concerned.

In my view, one of the reasons why former president, Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, is so unpopular is the Intelligence and Security Services Act in terms of which the infamous former Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi, was appointed. Of course, considering the fact that the merits of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill far outweigh its demerits, it cannot be compared to the Intelligence and Security Services Act, but the way in which it was rushed through Parliament raises eye brows.

This is especially true considering the fact that one of the highly contested aspects of the Bill, i.e. the authority to which declarations will be made, is so critical that it has the potential to render the Bill ineffectual. It is incontrovertible that when all is said and done, the most important element of declaration of assets and liabilities bill is the system’s integrity. So, when many MPs, albeit in the minority and mainly from the Opposition, expressed reservation with respect to the provision that declarations will be made to the Director of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), the BDP should have listened.

It is incontrovertible that these reservations were not without basis. The concern is that the Director of the DCEC is partial authority since he or she is appointed by the President, acting alone, on terms and conditions determined only by him or her. His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, a self-declared proponent of consultation, should have been concerned at the opposition to the Bill by the Opposition which has long called for the Bill’s enactment.

Of course, some in the Opposition could have been playing politics by opposing the BDP- sponsored Bill so that they deny the BDP of political victory, but the concerns were not only from the Opposition, they were also raised by civil society, the media and political analysts.  
Consequently, while H.E Dr. Masisi deserves commendation for delivering on his promise, it is the Bill’s rushed passage that, in my view, diminishes his achievement.

As you are aware, this Bill was first materially brought to Parliament by a BDP Legislator, former MP Joy Phumaphi, about twenty years ago. Since then, Opposition MPs, including former Legislator, Dumelang Saleshando, have attempted to table the Bill through the Private Member’s Bill procedure, but their efforts were thwarted by the BDP, for purely political motives. H.E Dr. Masisi had been in office for one year three months when the Bill was passed. He had, during his inaugural speech in April 2018, promised to table the Bill by the end of 2018, but he did not.

Therefore, one cannot help but wonder why the BDP, which had failed to pass the Bill for more than twenty years, was in such a hurry to pass the Bill that it passed it in the dead of night, to the exclusion of the Opposition. H.E Dr. Masisi is on record apologising to Batswana for passing, during Dr. Khama’s era, the amendments to the Act on former Presidents’ Pension & Retirement benefits in the dead of night despite opposition from the Opposition, but he has done exactly what Dr. Khama did.

In my view, it is not unreasonable to conclude that, in rushing the Bill through Parliament, the BDP and H.E Dr. Masisi himself were motivated more by political expediency than national interest. This thought is not far-fetched, especially considering the fact that general elections are only about two (2) months away. Of course, it would be disingenuous for one to argue that the Bill, as it is, serves no national interest, but, in my view, national interest would have been better served if more consultation had been made so that the Bill is improved.

It would appear that H.E Dr. Masisi’s quest to deliver this Bill, which had eluded his party for the past twenty (20) years, blurred his judgment to the extent that he compromised one of the principles he has said underpins his leadership style-consultation. What harm could have been caused if the BDP had delayed the Bill and subjected it to public and Parliamentary scrutiny, especially that it touches on a very emotive issue-corruption. The BDP could still win the forthcoming general elections without the Bill. After all, the majority of its voters, especially those in rural arears, know nothing about the importance of a Declaration of Assets & Liabilities Bill.

In my view, there is nothing at stake which could have compelled the BDP or H.E Dr. Masisi to take such a political risk by abdicating a principle as cardinal as consultation. Consultation, like all virtues, should not only be upheld when it is convenient to do so. They should be upheld at all times. So, even if H.E Dr. Masisi anticipated that some of the provisions in the Declaration of Assets & Liabilities Bill would face opposition, he should still have subjected it to public scrutiny.


The president of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Honourable Advocate Duma Boko, held a public lecture regarding the Bill. Following the lecture, many Batswana commented on the Bill during radio shows, but before they knew what happened the Bill was passed by Parliament. Many will never know when the President assents to the Bill to make it into law.  

Granted, there is no legal requirement for public consultations in our law making process, but if H.E Dr. Masisi truly believes in consultation, he does not need such law to uphold the virtue of consultation, especially in the passage of such a fundamental piece of legislation as the one on Declaration of Assets & Liabilities Bill. If he has not already done so, it is almost a given that H.E Dr. Masisi will assent to the Bill, making it law. But he should know that the manner in which the Bill was passed may haunt his presidency and hurt his legacy just like the Intelligence and Security Services Act did for Dr. Khama.

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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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