Millions of pula at Ramaphosa’s farm

According to The Star, a South African daily newspaper, a stash of millions of pula was discovered at a game farm owned by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The money was left over from a stash that had allegedly been used to finance a plot to topple Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi ahead of the 2019 general election. However, there is a yawning gap in The Star’s reportage: where did such hard cash come from? To be perfectly clear, we also don’t know; what we know though is that going back to when Cyril “City” Ramaphosa played football for Township Rollers during the liberation-struggle years, armed black South Africans have been making countless business trips to Botswana. Originally, they robbed commercial banks but beginning last year, have been targeting cash-in-transit trucks. When such heists are successful, they make away with millions of pula in hard cash and immediately cross back into South Africa. Again, we are not implicating any South African politician in the armed robberies - we just find it too much of a coincidence that Botswana is losing millions of pula in hard cash and that a stash of millions of pula has been located at only one place in all of South Africa.

Apartheid SA was a good neighbour

There is a principle in Confucianism that nothing is either wholly good or wholly bad. Quick example: the lager-induced euphoria that an imbiber gets on a Sunday night out at a “jazz” session yields a head-splitting headache and threatens one’s job security the next morning. We all know what a horrible system official apartheid was but there was some good in it: the leaders of apartheid South Africa never attempted to overthrow Presidents Sir Seretse Khama or Sir Ketumile Masire. Black South African artists showed up at music shows they had been paid to sing at. There were also few black armed robbers from South Africa during the apartheid years. Fast forward to the South Africa of today and its (black) political leaders: there are many more black armed robbers from South Africa; a foul-mouthed rabble-rouser called Julius Malema once threatened to topple the government of then President Ian Khama; black South African artists don’t always show up at music shows they had been paid to sing at; and, we just learnt from a credible South African newspaper that President Ramaphosa tried to topple the government of Khama’s successor. When you think of it, the robbery from black South Africa takes various forms.

Corporal punishment in workplace

Zambians are up in arms after a video showing a Chinese employer caning a Zambian employee popped up on social media. The latter was late for work and a one-man kangaroo court featuring the Chinese man sentenced him to two strokes of the cane on the (clothed) back. On the basis of race, nationality and power positions, the video does indeed provoke rage among black people but there is possibly a lesson to be learnt from it. In our part of Africa, corporal punishment is used in schools and at the customary court for adult offenders. Asians, on the other hand, have historically used it within a wholly different context – the workplace. Before western influence spread to Japan, it was customary for employees to be caned at work – especially at manufacturing companies. If your assignment was to design a car that could reach 180km/hr within three seconds and you failed to do so, you were certainly going to get caned and were likelier to do better next time. This must be why Batswana call caning “medicine.” So rather than ban corporal punishment as some people have suggested, Botswana – which has one of the lowest rates of labour productivity in the world, should consider introducing corporal punishment in the workplace. As finance minister Lemme Makgekgenene, gave civil servants a 50 percent salary increase but labour productivity never improved. Botswana has tried just about every productivity intervention scheme from the west but labour productivity has never improved. All the conferences, workshops, symposia and other meetings convened to improve labour productivity have been an abject failure. Promoting workers – as well as a 10-year military dictatorship, have also failed to improve their productivity. For just one week, let’s try something radically different, something that helped make Japan an industrial powerhouse. Then we will see how long it takes to have an application for a national identity card processed and what percentage of the labour force is on duty on Friday afternoon and Monday morning.

Road humps a PhD symptom

If you are of a certain age, you will be able to remember a past when there were very few fancy and pricey cars and road humps undulated gently. As the number of such cars increased, humps got steeper and rougher on the surface. Today, five in 30 cars are fancy and pricey and the humps are built like walls. What happened? The answer may be found in a good, old Botswana pastime: pull him/her down syndrome. Someone who can’t afford a fancy and pricey car clearly wants to get even with those who can.