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The Babylonian Captivity Ploy

Benson C Sail
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Nebuchadnezzar has the Jews exiled to his own domain to wreck Jerusalem’s prospects of hosting  King Anu

Circa 4000 BC, when Nibiru King Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”, concluded his visit to Earth and was now bidding farewell to his seniormost children Jehovah-Enlil, Ninmah, and Enki (a step-son), this is what he said as per Zechariah Sitchin’s The Lost Book of Enki: “Whatever Destiny for the Earth and the Earthlings intended, let it so be! If Man, not Anunnaki, to inherit the Earth is destined, let us destiny help. Give Mankind knowledge, up to a measure secrets of heaven and Earth them teach, Laws of justice and righteousness teach them, then depart and leave!”

It was onward from 4000 BC, during the astrological Age of Taurus, that the Sumerian civilisation, a giant leap in mankind’s knowledge horizons,  blossomed  and so Anu’s wish was fulfilled.   As such, the next time Nibiru showed up, Anu was certain to order the Anunnaki’s evacuation of Earth as their mission of civilising mankind will have been complete.    

Nibiru was expected to re-appear at the very turn of the  6th century BC. Just around  that time, word began to circulate among Anunnaki circles that the arrival into the ecliptic of planet Nibiru was close at hand but KING ANU WAS UNLIKELY TO SHOW UP; INSTEAD, HE HAD WIRED ORDERS TO THE EFFECT THAT ENLIL, ENKI, AND THE REST OF THE ANUNNAKI PREPARE TO LEAVE EARTH.  Thus it was that in 605 BC, Ishkur-Adad instructed the prophet Hosea to begin to prophesy about Nibiru so as to alert mankind to the possible perils its proximity to Earth might wreak on the planet.

Marduk and his son Nabu, however, took the news that Anu might not pitch with a grain of salt.   To them, it was a ploy on the part of the Enlilites to have Marduk caught off-guard when the King arrived and therefore irreparably scandalise him. As far as Babylonia (where Marduk was based) was concerned,  preparations for Anu’s arrival would proceed regardless. Marduk  was the only god with a vested interest in Earth as he had been banned from ever  returning to Nibiru for marrying an Earthling woman. Both his first wife Sarpanit I and his second wife Sarpanit II were demigods, that is, part Earthling and part Anunnaki. IN GENERAL, HOWEVER, THE GODS (AS THE ANUNNAKI WERE REFERRED TO) BEGAN TO DEPART EARTH AT THIS JUNCTURE.  

NEBUCHADNEZZAR TAKES THE REINS

In order to see to the stability of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, which he had founded in 625 BC after trouncing his Assyrian overlords into oblivion, Nabupolassar was aware he could not do that singlehandedly: he needed the embrace and co-operation of the Persians, then known as Medes. It were the Medes in point of fact who had made his defeat of the Assyrians possible when they allied with him. In a bid to secure the Medo-Babylonian alliance, Nabupolassar had his eldest son Nebuchadnezzar marry the daughter of the King of the Medes.

Now, with the return of Nibiru just around the corner, the race to control the space-related sites became even more frantic. Until now, the Egyptians had been of the same accord with Babylon in resisting Assyrian rule. Now they decided it was time they ceased and desisted from playing second fiddle to the Babylonians and set about charting their own hegemonic destiny. This was the resolve of Pharaoh Necho II, who came to power in 610 BC.

Necho wanted both Jerusalem and Baalbek to be in Egyptian hands by the time King Anu arrived, not in Babylon’s or any other nation for that matter. If he were to achieve these ends, he needed allies: that’s how he roped in the Assyrians despite the fact that they were already a spent force and all they could muster was the last kick of a dying horse.

In 609 BC, the Egyptian forces were on their way to reinforce the Assyrians in their desperate endeavours to stand up to Babylon when they were intercepted by King Josiah of Judah, who had allied himself with Babylon, at Megiddo. Sadly, Josiah’s forces were routed and Josiah himself was killed. The Egyptians pushed ahead, managed to cross the river Euphrates, and took control of Baalbek. In 605 BC, they advanced to Carchemish on the frontier between today’s Turkey and Syria, where they were now poised to capture Harran. 

At the time, an aged Nabupolassar was terminally ill and so he mandated his son Nebuchadnezzar, who was about 30 years of age, to head the Babylonian army and tackle the Egyptians. In June that same year, Nebuchadnezzar confronted the Egyptians at Carchemish and gave them a very good drubbing.  He pursued them all the way to the Sinai Peninsula, thus liberating “the sacred forest (Baalbek) in Lebanon which Nabu and Marduk desired”. He relentlessly chased after the Egyptians and retreated only after he received news of the death of his father in August that same year, whereupon he rushed back to Babylon to be crowned as the new King of Babylonia the following month.

However, Necho still had Judah in his sphere of influence. Josiah was succeeded by the younger of his two older sons Jehoahaz, who declared Judah’s independence from Egypt. The freedom was short-lived as Necho deposed Jehoahaz after he had reigned for a mere three months and replaced him with the rightful heir Jehoiakim but who was given strict instructions that he was under obligation to toe the Egyptian line through thick and thin. Jehoahaz was taken prisoner to Egypt, where he saw his last days. Would Nebuchadnezzar simply fold his arms whilst Necho held the all-important Judah in custody?

NEBUCHADNEZZAR READIES BABYLON FOR KING ANU

On the day he was being sworn in as the new King of Babylonia, Nebuchadnezzar intoned thus for the attention of the god Marduk:  “O merciful Marduk, may the house that I have built endure forever, may I be satiated with its splendour, attain old age therein, with abundant offspring, and receive therein tribute of the kings of all regions, from all mankind.” Much of what he entreated his god came to pass as Babylon became the most powerful city-state in the region and Nebuchadnezzar himself the greatest warrior-king and ruler in the known world.

By 600 BC, Babylon was so aglitter it was regarded as the centre of the world. Indeed, a contemporary clay tablet, which is on display in the British Museum, presents the ancient world as revolving around Babylon. “I have made the city of Babylon to be the foremost among all the countries and every habitation; its name I elevated to be the most praised of all the sacred cities,” Nebuchadnezzar wrote in his inscriptions.

Nebuchadnezzar ascended to the throne at a most momentous point in time – when the Return (of the planet Nibiru) was just around the corner. So to him, practically every action he took had to take this phenomenon into account. It was a time period “marked by decisive actions and fast moves, for there was no time to lose —the nearing Return was now Babylon’s prize!”

Nebuchadnezzar   had decided that King Anu was to be hosted not in Jerusalem but in Babylon. Babylon was to replace Jerusalem as the new “Navel of the Earth”, the Duranki in Sumerian, meaning “The Principal Link between Heaven (Nibiru mainly but the ecliptic in general) and Earth”. As such, massive renovation and construction works were to be undertaken in the great city and on the double. Marduk’s temple-abode, a seven-stage ziggurat, the Esagila, was renovated and rebuilt and renamed the  Etemen-Anki, meaning “The Temple of the Foundation for Heaven-Earth” to accord with its new role as the Navel of the Earth. It was equipped as an astronomical observatory from which to monitor, primarily, the approaching Nibiru – exactly the same thing that was done in Uruk when Anu’s visit to Earth was imminent circa 4000 BC. 

A new processional way leading to the Sacred Precinct for Anu’s holy feet to tread upon and a magnificent gate to usher through the great god were constructed. The iconic, glimmering blue gate was named the Ishtar Gate, after Inanna-Ishtar, who served as King Anu’s sexual hostess every time he came to Earth.  A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate (see accompanying image) can be seen in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR SEIZES JERUSALEM

If Babylon was to be the undisputed Navel of the Earth, it was imperative that Nebuchadnezzar neutralise Jerusalem; otherwise, there would be two geopolitically eminent centres of power contending for King Anu’s attentions when he turned up on the planet. Nebuchadnezzar had his sights set on Jerusalem from the very day he was crowned King in 605 BC and even as the coronation was in progress in Babylon, he gave orders for a detachment of his army that had trounced the Egyptians and was still in the Canaanite region to besiege Jerusalem. The army did that without encountering much resistance. The reigning King of Judah, Jehoiakim, agreed to the status of a vassal king,   albeit it reluctantly so. 

The Babylonian army ransacked the Temple of some of its golden articles and took them to Babylon. Some members of the royal family were also taken along, plus the leading lights of the Jewish intelligentsia, the latter of whom included the famous Daniel, Meshack, Abednego and Ezekiel.  The event marked the first of a series of deportations that were to follow. 

By December 604 BC, a number of local states in Syria and Canaan had pledged their subjection to Babylonian rule after Nebuchadnezzar had taken control of the Philistine Plain. The Babylonian Empire would in time stretch from the Persian Gulf on the south, through the ancient rivers of Tigris and Euphrates in the middle, and ending to the west with Syria and Palestine.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho had regrouped after his drubbing by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC and had been rebuilding his arsenal and honing his battle field prowess. It paid off, for when his forces faced off again with the Babylonians on the borders of Egypt in 601 BC, the seemingly invincible Nebuchadnezzar was defeated and forced to retreat. Buoyed by this development, Jehoiakim, plus several other Babylonian vassal states in the region,  rebelled and declared independence against the advice of the prophet Jeremiah. 

It took three years for Nebuchadnezzar to recover from this setback and to be in a position where he was reinvigorated enough to launch a renewed assault to regain control. His immediate target as expected was the critically important Judah. In December 598 BC, he had Jerusalem surrounded. The siege,  during which Jehoiakim was killed, apparently by Jewish dissidents who abhorred his daring against Babylonia, and replaced with his son Jeconiah, lasted for three months  and with Necho’s assistance, which Jehoiakim had counted upon, not forthcoming,  the city surrendered in March 597 BC. Jehoiakim’s youthful uncle Zedekiah was installed as the vassal King.

Jeconiah, his mother, and  his captains were deported to Babylon. “All the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths; none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land,”  the Bible documents in 2 KINGS 24:14.  This was the Second Deportation.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR DESTROYS TEMPLE, DEPOPULATES  JERUSALEM

In 590 BC, King Zedekiah decided he would  no longer be the puppet of Babylon. Just like Nebuchadnezzar, he wanted to be in full and unmitigated control of the Holy City in the event King Anu pitched up. But he  was under no illusion he could throw off the yoke of Babylon singlehandedly. So in the fourth year of his reign he – once again against the advice of the far-sighted Jeremiah – joined a coalition that was being formed by Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon in rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar.

Upon getting  wind of the rumours of these machinations,  Nebuchadnezzar summoned Zedekiah to Babylon to administer to him a warn and caution statement but it seemed he took no heed. The following year, Nebuchadnezzar decided to pounce: he captured all the cities of Judah except three, one of which was Jerusalem and which he proceeded to  besiege for the third time.

Finding himself in dire straits, Zedekiah made an alliance with Pharoah Apries of Egypt and indeed the latter rushed to reinforce him. In the ensuing lull in hostilities, Nebuchadnezzar pulled a stunt by lifting the siege and Apries withdrew. No sooner had Apries done so than Nebuchadnezzar hemmed in on Jerusalem once again: Zedekiah was on  his own. Jerusalem was under siege from January 587 to  July 586 BC. The following are the circumstances and aftermath  of the siege according to one chronicler:

“Conditions in the city became increasingly desperate. Although the people had had time to prepare, their food supplies eventually began to run out. Cannibalism became a grim reality. Despite Jeremiah's counsel to surrender the king refused to do so and just as the last of the food in the city was exhausted the Babylonians broke through the wall. “Zedekiah fled with remains of his army, but was overtaken and captured near Jericho. From there he was brought before Nebuchadnezzar at his field headquarters at Riblah,  his sons were executed in front of him and he was blinded. From there he was taken in chains to Babylon. The key members of his cabinet were executed before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah shortly afterwards.

“A large part of the population of Jerusalem was put to the sword and everything of value plundered. The bronze articles from the Temple were cut up and removed and the building together with the palace and the important houses were set on fire. “In order to ensure that the city would never rebel against him again, Nebuzaradan, the commander of the Imperial Guard, ordered that the walls be demolished. All who survived in the city were carried off into exile in Babylon, with the exception of the very poor of the land.

The starving population exchanged whatever riches they had left for food, its leadership and priesthood were gone and the Temple burnt. The Babylonians soldiers oppressed the survivors and forced them to work for their food.” The remnant of poor people that were spared were meant to serve as farmers and wine dressers.  These people had previously been landless peasants and presented the least risk to the Babylonians, but were required to work the land to prevent the fields falling into disuse.

WOULD KING ANU CONDONE NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S ACT?

Nebuchadnezzar was not the first King to deport a people from their own country. The pace was actually set by the Assyrian King Adad Nirari I (c. 1307-1275 BC), who thought the best way to prevent any future uprising was to remove the former occupants of the land and replace them with Assyrians. But Nebuchadnezzar had an ulterior motive for the deportations, which only the “Illuminati” of the day were privy to.  

HE WANTED TO MAKE JERUSALEM DESOLATE AND DECREPIT SO THAT WHEN KING ANU ARRIVED, HE WOULD AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE AND INSTEAD FOCUS ON THE GLITTERING BABYLON.  His aim was to kill off entirely the competition posed by Jerusalem. Says Zechariah Sitchin: “The expectation, it seems, was that the arriving god (Anu)  of the Winged Disk (symbol for planet Nibiru) would come down at the Landing Place (Baalbek) in Lebanon, then consummate the Return by entering Babylon through the new marvelous Processional Way and imposing Ishtar Gate.”  

But in the event that he indeed pitched, would the pro-Enlilite Anu take kindly to being deflected to a city (Babylon) other than Jerusalem when it had been specifically designated for his ultimate hosting on the planet by virtue of its geometrical centrality? 

Having taken over Nippur’s prediluvial role to serve as Mission Control Center after the Deluge, Jerusalem was located at the center of concentric distances to the other space-related sites. Aptly calling it the “Navel of the Earth” (EZEKIEL 38:12), the Prophet Ezekiel had announced that Jerusalem has been chosen for this role by God himself. 

“Thus has said the Lord Yahweh: ‘This is Jerusalem; in the midst of the nations I placed her, and all the lands are in a circle round about her,” EZEKIEL 5:5. “Determined to usurp that role for Babylon,” Sitchin further notes, “Nebuchadnezzar led his troops to the elusive prize and in 598 BC captured Jerusalem.” How would King Anu take this seeming sacrilege in the event that he pitched?

NEXT WEEK:  HAIL THE PLANET OF THE GODS!

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Let’s Get BPO Industry Out of its Present Limbo

26th October 2020
Majakathata “Jax” Pheko

At an economically tumultuous juncture of our country’s history as we presently are, where unemployment has become something of a Gordian Knot conundrum, a promisingly ameliorational pursuit known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is well worth exploring as a salvavic option.

One pundit defines BPO as “a subset of outsourcing that involves contracting the operations and responsibilities for a particular business process to a third-party service provider.” Examples of BPO services, which invariably do not constitute a company’s core or primary mission, include inbound and outbound call centres, live chat, bookkeeping, web development, research marketing, accounting and finance, and after-hours call answering services. BPO is driven, fundamentally, by the imperative of cost-cutting and overrides national boundaries through the employment and deployment of technologies that make human and data communications easier, thus lending credence to the concept of the global village that is today’s world.

BPO had been in existence in its primordial form since as early as the 19th century but it was not until the 1980s that its latter-day incarnation loomed larger and the term outsourcing became part of daily business parlance. Today, every continent is into BPO, including the economic Dark Horse called Africa. The Global IT-BPO Outsourcing Deals Analysis segments BPO buyer regions into three categories. These are North and South America (42 percent); Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (35 percent); and Asia and Oceania 23 percent.

In a Third World country such as Botswana, overseas-oriented BPO is key to bringing in those paramount hard currencies besides engendering a radical turnaround in the all too dingy joblessness picture. But are we up to it folks? Have we gotten aboard the bandwagon or we are virtual spectators watching nonchalantly as the BPO locomotive streaks away at breakneck speed?

JAX’S FLASH-IN-THE-PAN SUCCESS

The extent to which BPO has taken root in Botswana is not apparent. The first time I heard of it was in August 2007, when the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA), then going by the name Botswana Training Authority (BOTA), put it on record at a one-day IFSC-organised conference that they were in the process of developing standards for the nascent BPO industry in Botswana whilst they benchmarked with Mauritius, the UK, and South Africa. Little, if anything at all, has been heard of their progress since.

In February 2018, The Botswana Guardian reported of the newly-established Direct BPO, a fully-owned subsidiary of Mascom, which was looking to employing 400 people at the very outset. Once again, details as to how Direct BPO, whose establishment coincided with Mascom’s 20-year anniversary, has fared to date remain sketchy.

Perhaps the most spectacular case of a BPO operation in Botswana was that of Oseg, a company begun by Majakathata Pheko, affectionately known as Jax, in 2003 under the Debtsolve franchise umbrella. Oseg, which comprised of three divisions, offered customer management and financial services solutions and operated out of Gaborone and Windhoek in Namibia, where it touted MTN as its principal client. Oseg did receivable management for local financial blue chips such as Barclays Bank, FNB, Bayport, MVA, Botswana Insurance Company, Letshego, and Standard Chartered, and in due course CEDA and Mascom. It also served the Australian offshore market. Its account receivable division was the biggest in Botswana, handling over 60,000 accounts and managing a portfolio of over P400 million.

At its height, Oseg employed 150 people and had spent over P15 million on cutting edge technology and manpower training. In 2007, Oseg was nominated for Best Non-European Contact Centre at the CCF Awards held that year in Birmingham, UK, the “Oscars of the industry”.

Then in 2016, the sky seemed to have fallen. Oseg found itself saddled with an odious P4.4 million debt, with its staff resultantly trimmed to just under 50. According to media reports, Jax pointed to his own bankrollers and their partners in the alleged crime as his rather devious saboteurs. “I have evidence that powerful people in the bank and a cabal of friends both inside and outside the bank were intentionally and aggressively looking for ways to weaken Oseg, tarnish its name and diminish its value as they were in the same competing business interests, in the call centre and the factoring business,” the then youthful entrepreneur, who was only 41 at the time, bemoaned.

Jax reported the matter to NBFIRA and what came of that, not to mention the continued viability of his business, I have not been able to establish. I just hope and trust that Jax personally weathered the tempest as I have it on good authority that he is doing fairly well.

BOTSWANA MISSING OUT ON DOLLAR-DENOMINATED BILLIONS

For emerging economies, and even peripheral Third World countries, the BPO business can be something of a gold mine. According to the latest McKinsey report, the global BPO industry is valued at $163 billon and is expected to grow at $183 billion by the year 2023.

In the Philippines, BPO, which began with a call centre setup way back in 1992, accounts for 11 percent of GDP, the single biggest contributor to the nation’s economic activity. It employs 1.3 million people in over 700 outsourcing companies. One company, called Teleperformance, alone employs 47,000 people in 21 sites. In 2019, the BPO sector generated revenues of the order of $26.3 billion.

In India, the BPO sector, now 30 years old, provides direct employment to 2 million people and indirect employment to 8 million. In 2019, the BPO income overall amounted to $8.6 billon.  In Mauritius, the ICT/BPO sector contributed 6 percent to GDP in 2019, representing a key driver of the Mauritian economy. The BPO sector is responsible for 53 percent of the 27,000 people employed in the ICT/BPO superstructure in 850 companies.

According to the Economic Development Board of Mauritius, leading multinationals such as Accenture, Huawei, Aspen Pharmacare and Allianz have back office operations in Mauritius. In addition, a number of international payroll companies currently use Mauritius as a service delivery centre.

Kenya is also looking to position itself as a hub for global digital BPO, notably through government promotion schemes such as Ajira. According to the ITC Authority of Kenya, the market size for online work was estimated to be $4.8 billion in 2016 and was projected to generate $15 billon by 2020. With only 7000 people employed in the BPO industry in the country, we are talking about a modest figure though it is still brisk compared to the rather lugubrious situation in Botswana. Clearly, there are billions in US dollar terms to be had in BPO and we are missing out on these big time.

MZANZI LEAVES BW IN THE DUST

Yet it is Big Brother next door from whom we have precious much to glean as he is our immediate competitor potentially in the BPO race. Remember, if our IFSC continues to flounder to date, it is largely on account of the fact that in Mzansi, we have a formidable rival right on our doorstep.

As we speak, the South African BPO sector is valued at $461 million going by the invariably authoritative McKinsey survey. It employs 270,000 people in six cities, a figure projected to more than double to 775,000 by 2030. Of the current total staff base, 65,000 serve international clients. That South Africa has made such enormous strides in the BPO arena is meritoriously earned and not simply fortuitous. It has been voted the second most attractive BPO location in the world for three years on the trot.

The South African BPO sector is tipped to grow by 3 percent per annum over the next three years, a rate which is in line with the trends in the global BPO space. There are currently over 100 local and international BPO providers operating in South Africa, with local players in the main serving large multinational customers. The industry’s key offshore business clientele is domiciled in English-speaking countries, notably the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, with 61 percent coming from the United Kingdom, 18 percent from the United States and Canada, and 11 percent from Australia.

In June this year, the $1.5 trillion-strong Amazon announced that it would be signing up a total of 3000 South Africans to help cater to its customers in North America and Europe, which is testament to the fact that the country’s BPO market continues to make waves in the Western world. If Jeff Bizos is impressed, you can count on the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg to follow suit too sooner rather than later.

A FORGONE OPPORTUNITY TO TURBO-CHARGE THE BPO INDUSTRY IN BOTSWANA

Empowerment Africa is an organisation that boasts a business network that enables established and emerging businesses to connect, partner, and create long-term value with Africa-based projects. With reportedly 3000 esteemed contacts, it liaises with governments, major corporations, and investors to facilitate business opportunities, deliver deal flow, and provide research across its network to the Empower Africa business community.

Empowerment Africa recommends seven countries in Africa with thriving outsourcing industries. They are Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, and Madagascar in that order. Botswana is conspicuous by its absence and that must be ample cause for concern to our Monetary Authorities, especially given that at least on paper, we are economically better off than three to four of these countries.

In 2015, Jax approached the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture and propositioned a joint partnership with Oseg in unlocking BPO potential in Botswana by looking at the public sector Debt Collection and Call Centre services for government. Jax reckoned that the total market for Receivables and Revenue collections sitting in Government and Parastatal organisations at the time amounted to over P3.5 billion, equivalent to 8% of the National Budget then. If the BPO sector was to be utilised to assist in collecting this debt, over 2700 jobs would be created.

Furthermore, considering that a typical government employee spent half the time attending to inquiries from members of the public, the exercise would result in improved efficiency delivery in government departments in addition to boosting government’s liquidity position.

This is what Jax said in a 50th independence anniversary publication in 2016 on the same subject. “Our estimations are that once all the collections work is outsourced, there is a potential to collect more than P100 million every month for the Government of Botswana.

The opportunity to create more than 2700 exists, which will help to mop out unemployed graduates and upskill them. The economic impact of 2700 jobs would support more than 15,000 people in the economy and also help to create jobs in other industries that support the BPO sector, and will stimulate the whole ICT sector. Over and above that, the outsourcing would stimulate the whole IT sector and help improve Botswana’s position as an ICT and Call Centre hub.”

Once again, I am not privy to what came of this proposition, but I am persuaded that had government acceded to it, the BPO business in the country would have quantum-leaped and we would today be waltzing on the proverbial Cloud 9 in terms of revenues generated. Even the road retarder Oseg encountered with its bankers would not have been a factor at all. As significant, we would in all probability have made it on Empowerment Africa’s short list for the continent’s pre-eminent BPO addresses.

THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF GOVERNMENT IN BOOSTING BPO FORTUNES

Granted, with the advent of the still latent E-Governance, the synergic potential with the Call Centre business is stupendous. As per Jax’s pitch to those who care to hear, “The outsourcing of the E-Governance and collections will greatly improve efficiency in service delivery in the government departments. Directing traffic and enquiries to a Call Centre would empower the BPO sector in such a way that would be able to help the public from all over the country from one central point 24 hours and 7 days week.

The Call Centres would also relieve Government of the pressure to develop brick and mortar representations/offices across the country. This would help to save billions of Pula as the public will be able to access the services from the comfort of their homes and villages. The Call Centre service would bridge the urban and rural division as everyone will now be able to access Government services and receive the same service.”

The real jackpot both to government and the broader citizenry, however, resides in the offshore market. With sales cycles in the BPO business taking up to 12 months, contracts typically run from five to seven years, which is sustained lucrativeness by any measure. It is in the direction of the overseas market that much of our energy should be focused, though wary that we do not recklessly neglect the domestic market, if we are to reinvigorate the BPO industry and get meaningful returns out of it.

Developed countries are all the more keen to outsource as one way to insulate their economies against severe hurt inflicted by globalwide economic tremors. For instance, it was thanks to offshore outsourcing that Australia so ably navigated the 2008 economic crisis. That year, IBM released a BPO report showing that 80% of Australian companies were willing to outsource from offshore companies to save 50% in expenses.

Here in Botswana, I would recommend that government be in the BPO vanguard by splashing on a whole host of catalytic factors. In South Africa, for instance, the Department of Industry, Trade and Competition devoted R1.3 billion between 2007 and 2018 to bolstering the BPO industry in one way or the other and committed a further R1.2 billion in 2019 alone, gestures which no doubt underlie the solid performance of the industry.

Even when the lockdowns were in progress, the industry was accorded essential services status so that it kept the momentum going. As if not to be outdone, the South African BPO industry body, Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA), has commendably done its part in aiding the growth of the industry by supporting skills development, sharing best practice, and providing its members with access to other business networks and associations that drive and influence the sector’s transition into the digital economy. In Mauritius, the Prime Minister himself, and not a man of lesser stature, directly oversees the BPO sector.

For Botswana to make a mark in the BPO arena, it has to build a reputation as a reliable, cost-effective, and high-quality destination for outsourced business services, attributes all of which South Africa excels in. In addition, South African BPO players provide higher-quality services owing to strength across five key areas: availability of skills, infrastructure, risk profile, business environment, and industry size. In Botswana, we will need to nurture some of these strengths with the instrumentality of government.

With the advent of COVID-19, it is of essence that traditional BPO providers build capabilities to enable rapid deployment and ramp-up of fully functional teams under crisis scenarios. Operational resilience, that is, the ability to pivot when an ordinarily disruptive set of circumstances hits, is key. South Africa demonstrated this capacity most eloquently when 90 percent of the workforce was able to switch to remote work in residential settings, when 50 percent of operations in key competing locations such as the Philippines and India came to a virtual standstill.

Lastly but by no means the least, a competitive currency is a reasonably efficacious undercutting strategy. In recent months, the South African Rand has significantly weakened against the US dollar, in which the cost of outsourcing is typically denominated, and this has enabled South African BPOs to compete more effectively with Asian offerings.

It concerns me that last year, the Pula appreciated by 1.6 percent against the SDR (Special Drawing Right), which is a compound of five currencies, namely the US dollar, the British Pound, the Euro, the Japanese Yen, and the Chinese Yuan. If that relatively ripped Pula trajectory persists, it will not help our BPO competitiveness at all Rre Moses Pelaelo.

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Cyrus Frees the Jews

26th October 2020
In 538 BC, Cyrus, ruler of the Persian Empire

Mighty Persian King ends Babylonian exile after 60 years

For all his euphoria and grandiose preparations for Nibiru King Anu’s prospective visit to Earth, General Atiku, Nebuchadnezzar didn’t live to savour this potentially highly momentous occasion. In fact, none of his next three bloodline successors were destined to witness up-close the return of the Planet of the Gods, as Nibiru was referred to in Sumerian and Egyptian chronicles.

Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC, having ruled for 43 years, missing Nibiru, which showed up circa 550 BC as we set down in The Earth Chronicles series, by a whisker. During the next 6 years, he had three successors in such an unconscionably short period of time. His immediate one was Merodach, his eldest son.

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Understanding Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework: Litigation

26th October 2020

In Botswana, the Trade Disputes Act, 2016 (“the Act”) provides the framework within which trade disputes are resolved. This framework hinges on four legs, namely mediation, arbitration, industrial action and litigation. In this four-part series, we discuss this framework.

In last week’s article, we discussed the third leg of Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework-industrial action. In this article, we discuss the fourth leg, namely litigation at the Industrial Court. The Act does not define the term litigation. Litigation is generally understood to mean a situation where parties to a trade dispute take their dispute to a court, in this case the Industrial Court, for determination by a judge.

Just like an arbitrator, a judge’s decision is binding on the parties though they can, of course, appeal it. However, while an arbitrator must be acceptable to both parties, a judge does not have to be acceptable to the parties. A party can, however, apply for the judges’ recusal from the case for such reasons as reasonable apprehension of bias.

Before discussing litigation at the Industrial Court, it is apposite that a brief background of the origins and evolution of the Industrial Court be given. The original Trade Disputes Act (No. 19/1982) provided for disputes to be adjudicated, inter alia, by a Permanent Arbitrator. This is confirmed in Veronica Moroka & 2 Others v The Attorney General and Another, Court of Appeal Civil Appeal No. CACGB-121-17 at para 11.

The Industrial Court replaced the institution of the Permanent Arbitrator (Dingake Collective Labour Law in Botswana 23) following the enactment of the Trade Disputes Act (No. 23/1997) which, as confirmed in the Veronica Moroka case supra, came into force on 9 October 1997.

As per Kirby JP, in the Veronica Moroka case supra, the Industrial Court’s status “as a court was uncertain and no provision was made for it to be served by a Registrar, with the usual powers and duties of such office”.

The Court of Appeal, in Botswana Railways Organization v Setsogo and Others, 1996 BLR 763 CA, remedied this defect. It held that the Industrial Court was not a mere statutory tribunal, but was, in line with Section 127(1) of the Constitution of Botswana, a subordinate court, having limited jurisdiction.

Following the change of the definition of subordinate court by Act 2/2002 to exclude the Industrial Court, along with the Court of Appeal, the High Court and a court martial, the Industrial Court became a superior court, albeit still with limited jurisdiction unlike the High Court, for instance, which has inherent unlimited jurisdiction.

Consequently, appeals from the Industrial Court were referred to the Court of Appeal. Perhaps most significantly, according to Veronica Moroka, Industrial Court judges were now, just like High Court judges, protected by, inter alia, security of tenure.

The Trade Disputes Act was further amended and replaced by the Trade Disputes Act, 2003 which commenced on 6 April 2004 as Act No. 15 of 2004. Section 16(8) of this Act provided for the appointment of the Registrar and an Assistant Registrar, but still had no section clothing them with specific powers.

It, through section 20(3), also bestowed, in the Court, the power to hear urgent applications and, in terms of section 18(1), the power to grant interdicts, thereby remedying the defects identified in Botswana Railways Organization v Setsogo & Others supra, but it still had no provision dealing with writs of execution and sales flowing therefrom.

In terms of section 18(1) of the Act, the Industrial Court’s jurisdiction includes the power to hear and determine all trade disputes except disputes of interest as well as, in terms of section 20(1) (b) of the Act, the power to interdict any unlawful industrial action and to grant general interdicts, declaratory orders or interim orders.

In terms of section 20(1) (c) of the Act, the Industrial Court is also clothed with the power to hear appeals and reviews of the decisions of mediators and arbitrators respectively. It, in terms of section 20(1) (d) of the Act, has the power to direct the Commissioner to assign a mediator to mediate a dispute if it is of the opinion that the matter has not been properly mediated or requires further mediation.

In terms of section 20(1) (e) of the Act, the Industrial Court also has the power to direct the Commissioner to refer a dispute that is before the Court for arbitration. In terms of section 20(1) (f) of the Act, it has the power to refer any matter to an expert and, at the Court’s discretion, to accept the expert’s report as evidence in the proceedings.

The Industrial Court also has the power to give such directions to parties to a trade dispute provided the object of such directions is the expedient and just hearing and determination or disposal of any dispute before it.

In terms of section 20(2) of the Act, any matter of law and any question as to whether a matter for determination is a matter of law or a matter of fact is decided by the presiding judge. In terms of section 20(3) of the Act, with respect to all issues other than those referred to under section 20 (2), the decision of the majority of the Court prevails.

Where there is no majority decision under section 20 (3), the decision of the judge prevails. In terms of section 24(2) of the Act, any interested party in any proceedings under the Act may appear by legal representation or may be represented by any other person so authorised by that party.

In terms of section 28(2) of the Act, a decision of the Industrial Court has the same force and effect as a decision of the High Court, and because, unlike South Africa, Botswana has no Labour Appeal Court, decisions of the Industrial Court, just like those of the High Court, are, in terms of section 20(5) of the Act, appealable to the highest court in the land, that is, the Court of Appeal.

The Trade Disputes Act went through another amendment in 2016. Section 14 of the Act ensures the continuation of the Industrial Court. It outlines its functions as the settlement of trade disputes as well as the securing and maintenance of good industrial relations in Botswana.

In terms of section 15(1) of the Act, the judges of the Industrial Court are appointed by the state President from among persons possessing the qualifications to be judges of the High Court as prescribed under section 96 of the Constitution.

In terms of section 15(2) of the Act, these judges are headed by the President of the Industrial Court designated by the state President from among the judges.

In terms of section 15(4) of the Act, a judge of the Industrial Court who is not a citizen of Botswana or who is not appointed on permanent and pensionable terms may be appointed on contract basis and is eligible for reappointment.

In terms of section 15(5) of the Act, Judges of the Industrial Court sit with two nominated members, one of whom is selected by the judge from among persons nominated by the organisation representing employees or trade unions in Botswana and the other selected by the judge from among persons nominated by the organisation representing employers in Botswana.

In terms of section 15(6) of the Act, where, for any reason, the nominated members are or either of them is absent for any part of the hearing of a trade dispute, the jurisdiction of the court may be exercised by the judge alone or with the remaining member of the Court, whichever the case may be, unless the judge, for good reason, decides that the hearing should be postponed.

In terms of section 18(1) of the Act, An Industrial Court judge vacates office on attaining the age of 70 years, provided that the state President may permit him or her to continue in office for such period as may be necessary to enable him or her to deliver judgment or to do any other thing in relation to proceedings that had commenced before him or her.

In terms of section 18(2) of the Act, in accordance with the provisions of the proviso to section 96(6) of the Constitution, a person appointed to act as an Industrial Court judge vacates that office on attaining the age of 75 years.

In terms of section 19(1) (a) and (b) of the Act, an Industrial Court judge may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind, or from any other cause or for serious misconduct.

In terms of section 19(2) of the Act, the power to remove an Industrial Court judge from office vests in the state President acting in accordance with the procedure provided under section 97 of the Constitution for the removal of High Court judges.

*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or  anmorima@gmail.com

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