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Boko may have sealed victory for the BDP!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

Recently, I ran a four-part series through which I interrogated the question whether or not Botswana would emerge from this year’s general election with a hung Parliament. As you may be aware, I concluded that we are unlikely to have a hung Parliament since, in my view, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is likely to win, albeit with a thin margin.

The reason for my conclusion is two-fold. Firstly, it is that under the leadership of His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, the BDP has gone through a rebirth which puts it in pole position compared to the Opposition. Secondly, it is that the Opposition has been weakened by the expulsion of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) from the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and the fact that the Alliance for Progressives (AP) will be contesting outside the UDC.

I concluded that while the fact that the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is now part of the UDC will, no doubt, increase the UDC’s fortunes, it will be outweighed by the BMD and AP factors. It was my further conclusion that the fact that the Botswana Patriotic Party (BPF) will be collaborating with the UDC in certain constituencies will not deter the BDP from winning its twelfth successive general election. This, because the BPF’s arch-sponsor, former president, Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, is generally unpopular among many Batswana who believe his ten-year tenure was tyrannical. Some just believe that he has had his time and he should allow Masisi to rule unhindered.   

Recently, Afro-Barometer released a report which concluded, inter alia, that according to its survey conducted in July/August the ruling BDP would enjoy a 2-to-1 lead over the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). It gave the BDP 44% compared to the UDC’s 22%. It gave its margin of error as +/- 3% at a 95% confidence level. Another aspect that makes the BDP’s prospects of victory higher is that according to the survey though nearly 60% of the respondents said they feel closer to a political party while 40% said they do not, among those who feel close to a political party 56% identified with the ruling BDP, with UDC coming second at 22%.

Another factor which is favourable to the BDP is the possibility of absenteeism at the polls and vote splitting. The survey reveals that there are some UDC members who still identify with their old parties, with 5% rooting for the BCP and 3% for the Botswana National Front (BNF). 4% is rooting for the AP.  Of course, one is never certain until the voter has spoken through actual votes. All predictions may turn out to be wrong. In 2014, Afro-Barometer got it right in predicting BDP’s victory but got it wrong in its prediction that the BCP would come second followed by the UDC.

The reason why it may be so is that human behaviour can never be predicted with certainly. Also, in elections, some voters may change their minds in the final days, especially if something major happens politically. So, the aforegoing predictions notwithstanding, the UDC still stands a chance of winning or at least forcing a hung Parliament though I remain doubtful. In my view, the historic Presidential Debate that was held this week may have swayed some swing voters who had hitherto not been decided on which political party to vote for.

Unfortunately for the UDC, I think more of such swing voters may have been swayed more to the BDP than they were swayed to it. In fact, in my view, Ndaba Gaolatlhe’s AP may have benefited more than the UDC because of Gaolatlhe’s composure and intellectual prowess during the debate. Right during the debate, social media was lit with people’s disdain with UDC’s Advocate Duma Boko. Many described him as arrogant, both in his verbal and non-verbal communication.

But what may have cost him and the UDC the most is people’s dislike of his language, saying it is uncouth and disrespectful. This was especially in relation to the words he picked from Ratsie Setlhako’s song, referring to the BDP leadership, including Masisi, as Mathinthinyane, Rankoborwane, Magogajase, Rankurate, etc. In theory, Advocate Boko may have been right that ‘pina ya Setswana ga e na bosekelo’, but in practice he may live to regret using those words since some voters may punish him for that.

Condemnation against Advocate Boko was not only in social media, which is often wished away as less indicative of popular view. It was also in mainstream media. Many called in during live radio programmes condemning him. What should be worrying for Boko and the UDC is that the condemnation seemingly came from across the generational divide since both the young and the old condemned him. In my view, one may be taking it a bit too far in suggesting that the condemnation also came from across the political divide, but there are some who claimed they were going to vote for the UDC but have changed their mind because of Boko’s uncouth language and arrogance.

Of course, it is unlikely that long time and faithful Opposition supporters would change their vote because of one incident, especially considering that Boko has mobilised resources for the party which enabled it to match the BDP almost pound for pound in this year’s campaigns. It has to be said, however, that some people, presumably staunch UDC and/or Opposition supporters, came to Boko’s defence, finding no fault with his language and demeanour. On the contrary, they praised him for using rich Setswana. They regard those who chastise Boko as hypocrites since it is them who have always castigated Boko for shunning Setswana in preference for sophisticated English and Latin.

I think what made it worse for Boko is that none of the other presidential candidates took up his bait, not even the BPF’s Biggie Butale who was comical at times. Masisi, who would have been expected to respond to Boko, generally maintained his magnanimity despite the fact that Boko repeated such name calling. I think what Boko may have failed to realise is that while such language may have been appropriate at a freedom square it may not have been appropriate in such a debate which was watched by all, including conservative voters.

Also, Boko may have failed to realise that we are just from a cycle where many Batswana have been condemning politicians for using uncouth language, even at freedom squares. Nobody has faulted Boko for lack of substance during the debate. Indeed, though I believe that Gaolatlhe won the debate, I believe that Boko acquitted himself well, especially on governance related issues. It is for his language and non-verbal gestures that he has been castigated. The other issue for which some have blamed him is his failure to unconditionally confirm that the UDC will accept the outcome of the elections even if it were to lose.

Personally, I did not find much fault with his response because he made the acceptance of the outcome of the elections subject to the absence of electoral irregularities and vote rigging. Certainly, in such an event such an outcome is not to be accepted but is to be challenged through such lawful and democratic means as peaceful demonstrations and court action. I think that is what Boko mearnt. I do not think he mearnt that the UDC will take up arms and cause unlawful civil strife. So, though the BDP was still likely to win this year’s general elections, Boko’s language and non-verbal communication may have sealed victory for the BDP. But it may well be that the people who are claiming that they will vote the BDP because of Boko’s language and non-verbal communication during the debate are using that as a pretext and were still going to vote the BDP anyway.

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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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