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February 26
09:32 2018

Compelling mobile network providers to work closely with law enforcement officers to track our phones and bring them back to us is a much better deal for us than having to kill our smartphones

Often times we wait for death. Actually, all the time. We are born and wait to die from the day we are born. We also wait for the people around us to die in order to afford them a celebration of who they were in themselves and what they meant to us while they were still within this battlefield called life.

I cannot wait because I can do it now, and I will do it now. Today I (and you, otherwise stop reading) celebrate the life of a not-so-mere mortal, Major General Pius Mokgware. He should have died a while ago. He should have been killed for having a big mouth and being a potential political powerhouse. He should have been another niche for the opposition; an opportunity to extort funds from us under the pretext of carrying out an investigation into the cause of death and then have us waiting for the report like as though for Jesus’ second coming!

He never hid it from us that he is yet to be killed for what he believes. While empty vessels were busy mumbling at the top of their voices that he who alleges must prove, Richard Kgotlhang listened and came forth on behalf of Pius to clear the doubt by admitting to butchering several souls and further confessing that Major General was top priority on his to-do list. But the soldier is still alive, hearty and healthy, and has outlived the infamous hit list.

I am convinced that he is not a mere mortal. I know that had he been at Lesoma on 27 February 1978, he would have survived the ambush by Ian Smith’s Rhodesian forces. I dedicate to him a song by Destiny’s Child titled “Survivor.”

His unwarranted death would have denied us the opportunity to enjoy the success of his latest motion in Parliament, the motion that seeks to caution us against smartphone theft. A Smartphone Protection Act! First of all, we have to celebrate because an opposition Member of Parliament’s motion has been passed. This is so rare because for opposition MPs, that five-year term is usually a vacation. Their contribution to policy is very little, if understandable because minorities do not rule.

Aubrey Lute should apologise to Honourable Pius Mokgware for the confusion he caused through a Facebook post in relation to the context of Mokgware’s motion. According to Aubrey, the general’s successful motion compels dealers to install software that renders a cellphone useless once stolen. This discombobulation had us the enlightened people thinking that General Mokgware had a dream about this, woke up in the morning on an empty stomach, went straight to Parliament with no research done and tabled this motion. In short, we thought that General Mokgware was stupid and ignorant, but it turns out that we should be shooting the messenger instead.

As a matter of fact, Honourable Mokgware’s motion is a copy of a law in the United States – California and Minnesota, to be specific – where kill-switch software is mandatory. A kill-switch with respect to smartphones is a software application that can render the phone useless by locking out anyone who wants to use it. It can also locate your phone. There is Find My iPhone for Apple and Find My Device for Android-based devices. Because these come pre-installed by the manufacturer, the cellphone dealers are only required to sell phones that have this software.

According to Lute’s account, the burden of installing the software rests with the cellphone dealers. This raises questions about manufacturer’s warranty being tempered with, who incurs the cost of creating such software and also why dealers would be required to install their developed kill-switch when the manufacturer already pre-installs it.

What Mokgware dreams of with this law is to have cellphone dealers in Botswana only sell smartphones that have pre-installed  kill-switches so that when the phone is stolen, the thief or purchaser of the stolen property cannot use it. To remotely lock a smartphone, you will need an Internet connection. Most people in Botswana rely on discriminatory Internet packages such as MySocial and AllMyFriends that do not give access to the entire Internet. When a phone is stolen now, your ability to track it or lock it depends on the time you take to access the Internet and remotely access it through a kill-switch. The phone you are trying to access will also need an Internet connection. Factory resets can be done within the first few minutes of a smartphone being stolen, while the victim is still shocked and wondering why God would let that happen.

Fortunately, for the latest Android devices, a factory reset requires permission by the owner of the phone. Even if we had full time access to the Internet at our fingertips, we are unemployed and don’t have money to be buying new phones to replace stolen ones. When our phones are stolen, we do not want to kill them; we want to have them back. Compelling mobile network providers to work closely with law enforcement officers to track our phones and bring them back to us is a much better deal for us than having to kill our smartphones.





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