With the capital village of Kweneng District Council (KDC), Molepolole, being one the largest traditional villages in Africa with a population of over 70 000, the newly elected KDC chairman Motlhophi Leo has shared his fiver-year vision which is primarily focused on bringing basic services to the residents of the region with industrialisation as a secondary objective.
In an interview with WeekendPost this week, Leo is clear that he wants everything good for the district. He says this is achievable as his own Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) managed to take all the eight parliamentary seats in the area. “Out of 82 council seats only nine are for opposition, so this means as a party we should also work as there is no excuse. We have the numbers and we should push for motions that would be centric to the inhabitants of the district,” he said.
In his script to transform a district which is closer to the capital city, Leo has decided to call a leadership retreat in Manong Lodge next week where captains of various sectors will map the way forward for the district. Among the stakeholders expected to attend are all the eight legislators, councillors, traditional leadership, police and other interested parties who are advocating for the development in the region. As of 2011, the total population of the district was 304,549.
“We need developments in our area especially in our headquarters (Molepolole) which is also the third largest populated area in the country. For a long time the people have been crying about shortage of water and we thought that was over when the Ga-Mononyane mini station was erected unfortunately it has detoured its pipe. So this is one area that we need to priorities as the district leaders,” said Leo who was the KDC chairman from 2009 to 2014.
Another ambition that the chairman wishes to see it through during his five-year term is to ensure that big villages within the district have sewerage system. This he says is disappointing for a region as vast as KDC not to have the system despite being so populated and sophisticated. “It is very disappointing to say the least,” he lamented before continuing. “This should be another priority that should be fought at all the structures including council and parliament so that it can be put in national development agenda.”
It has been long since the Molepolole storm water drainage was included in the national development grid but up to now nothing has materialised. Last year’s rainstorms which put the village to a standstill was a wake-up call for the leaders to draw a master plan of the storm water drainage infrastructure.
“We should show the government the need for this [storm water drainage] in our area. Imagine people who mostly commute from here [Molepolole] to Gaborone for work stranded on the other side because of a two hours rain,” Leo who is also a councillor for Loologa Ward in Molepolole South constituency expressed his dissatisfaction. Leo has also allocated roads in the district a chapter in his script. According to Leo, roads are not only easing movement of people and goods but poor roads also account to many mortalities in the region.
“It is an area of concern, if you can see how congested our roads (A10, A12) are in the mornings and evenings you would not like it. So all the concerned parties should speak for that in every fora available so that our people get the best. Look at Thamaga- Molepolole road, it is dilapidated, and Molepolole-Lentsweletau worse. But I have engaged the Minister of Transport and Communications about this and he has assured me that he will do all he can to remedy the situation,” said Leo.
He has also highlighted that he wants the internal roads prioritised to ease the movement of people within the villages. With the whole country under petty crime siege, the new chairman wants Molepolole Police Station to be upgraded. This, he says will help in curbing of crimes like smash and grab and burglary. However, interim interventions will be discussed at a retreat to be held next week.
Kweneng just like other districts has been recording unsatisfactory results across all levels. This is giving the new chair headache. Leo promises to fight with everything at his disposal to ensure that results improve during his tenure. This will include regular meetings with head-teachers, teachers to understand the root cause of this and come up with ideas to improve the education in the area especially in rural areas lying in the western side of the region.
“In Molepolole alone we have 91 primary schools and you will find that some of these classes are taught outside and in these modern days that has been overtaken by events and we should advocate for more classes so that students are taught in a conducive environment, it could be the reason why we are recording poor results,” he said.
BUSINESSES SHOULD SET UP IN KDC
KDC chairman is on record conceding that it will be difficult to lure investors in the region while they are still grappling with challenges like poor roads network, sewerage, drainage and crime. He will however soon convene a meeting with some investors to get from the horse’s mouth why they are not expanding and to others why they are not setting up in the KDC despite its proximity to the capital city.
“We have a lot of human resources that could do any job and our closeness to Gaborone should be an advantage because raw materials would take short time to arrive and operation start,” he advocated. He is also concerned about the business community in the area which he says is not giving back to the societies which they operate in. “Another thing is our investors are not giving back to the community as the government encourages. They can help us to achieve better results in education and other sectors. We will meet with them so that they can share with us why they are not giving back to the community,” Leo concluded.
DID YOU KNOW?
Kweneng is the only district without a foreign border. It borders Central District in northeast, Kgatleng District on the east, South-East District in southeast, Southern District in south, Kgalagadi District in the west, Ghanzi District in the north.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.