Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has revealed in an exclusive interview with WeekendPost that he will soon launch a foundation which will promote democracy as well as critical importance of leadership and governance across Africa.
Khama made history in Botswana as the first former President of the country and President of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), to join opposition after his publicised ‘fallout’ with his successor President Mokgweetsi Masisi, upon handing over power on 1st April 2018. According to former President Khama, the foundation will look into issues of democracy and it will be a watchdog on good governance. “When I talk of good governance we will be looking at accountability, transparency, the rule of law and a watchdog of specifically three freedoms: speech, press and association”, Khama told WeekendPost last week.
The former President who is the Patron of the newly formed party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) — which contested the country’s General Elections in October, winning three seats — said, they will also be a watchdog on tolerance and touch on human rights and lastly on free and fair elections on the continent. “The foundation which will launch in Botswana beginning of the New Year, will also expand to the region as well as other parts of the continent. We will be issuing quarterly reports on the status of all the items mentioned and at the end of the year, release detailed reports with recommendations on where to improve,” Khama said.
The former President said currently as it stands, there is no tolerance of political opponents in Botswana as evidenced by the events leading to the October General Elections and some of the harassment on opponents still continues. In the months leading to October polls, tension was brewing threatening the BDP’s five decade grip on power, resulting in a tetchiness which has seen the country’s opposition leader harassed and several laws bulldozed through the legislature.
The President of the Umbrella for Democratic Party (UDC) Duma Boko, who lost his Gaborone Bonnington- South seat to BDP’s Anna Mokgethi, said the ruling party used state police to harass him several times and impounded on several occasions aircraft engaged by his party for campaigning. While addressing media in Sandton in the suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa, Boko said, he was concerned at the constant harassment by government and believes the reason for the spotlight on him is the current political dynamics which point to a change of guard for the first time since 1966 in Botswana.
With Botswana Congress Party (BCP) joining the umbrella opposition drive and the newly formed BPF, with the support of former President Ian Khama, Boko said the move highlighted threats to the ruling BDP than ever before and for the first time in 50 years, change of power was imminent. The African Report online writes: ‘Africa’s poster child for democracy, good governance, and transparency, for many years in the top five of the best- governed and least corrupt countries in Africa, Botswana was a good news story Africa had to hold on to. But, was it?
“On the face of it, Botswana is a thriving, open, competitive democracy. It has unfailingly held periodic transparent, credible, and peaceful elections – which the ruling party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has won since independence in 1965. It tolerates opposition and there is none of the systematic violence seen in countries like Zimbabwe and elsewhere. The country alternates its President after every two terms.
The Government appears to govern well, prudently, and accountably managing the revenues from the diamonds on which the economy depends on. However, underlying this is a carefully crafted system, aimed at subverting – not advancing – democratic practice, manipulating control of diamond revenue for political advantage, and entrenching and preserving BDP’s political hegemony”.
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.