In an interview with WeekendPost this week, former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama took time to clear the mist surrounding his ‘crash landing’ statement that he made during his press conference on Monday at Maharaja Conference Centre.
The former President also confirmed that a British barrister, lecturer, and writer, Cherie Blair (née Booth), who is married to former United Kingdom Prime Minister, Tony Blair will lead independent investigations into the alleged missing P100bn which he is implicated in. “Those affidavits were totally fabricated, what it takes for a government to engage in criminality and illegally take to court information which is being concerted by themselves”. Khama explained that the crush landing will come because, it will be revealed that this was false.
Secondly Khama confirms that he and his associates implicated in the matter are going to sue for defamation and it will cost government a lot because there are many of them. “You cannot just put out something like that, the damage they trying to do to is huge”. Former President Ian Khama confirmed to WeekendPost that he personally met the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair a few weeks back during his official trip to United Kingdom.
Khama did not only meet Cherie Blair but a number of some influential people whom he said he could not disclose nor converse on their discussions owing to their privacy. However, Khama confirmed that Blair and her law firm Omnia, are hitting the ground running. “They will be setting out their team soon and we expect them to resume work in less than two months”, he said.
According to their website Omnia Strategy LLP is an international law firm that specializes in dispute prevention and resolution around the globe. Led by Cherie Blair CBE, QC, the firm is committed to achieving their clients’ objectives no matter the size, complexity or nature of the challenge. “We believe in delivering real value and our lean model and flexible fee structures mean we are consistently more competitive than other firms while maintaining impeccable standards of client service and an exceptional success rate”.
They have a unique approach. In an increasingly inter- connected and fast-paced society, Omnia clients’ problems require more than one- dimensional legal solutions. In response, Omnia’s creative cross- disciplinary approach and worldwide network provide an answer. Unlike conventional law firms, their unique law plus model combines remarkable legal capabilities with an unrivalled multi- disciplinary skillset across: policy, business and communications.
“We promise our clients partner- led service from an elite team of handpicked experts ensuring we always engage precisely the right people for every matter”. In his statement he read at the press conference Khama said he is implicated in the said case by a certain Jako Hubona, an investigator employed by Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), in an affidavit which he deposed on 28th October 2019 and was filed with the High Court on the same date. In the same affidavit Hubona said:
He has received a report alleging that on 9 June 2008, 3 Special Unit Accounts were created by Bank of Botswana, under the instruction of former President Ian Khama, and the erstwhile Director General of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service, Isaac Seabelo Kgosi; On July 2009, the funds from one of the alleged Bank of Botswana accounts were transferred to HSBC Bank in Hong Kong, the reference being to purchase intelligence equipment
The funds were transferred through various offshore accounts around the world, and in 2015 such funds were deposited into various South African bank accounts; That the creation of the said accounts was unlawful because they were created without the knowledge of the Accountant General; and That Ms. Maswabi had control and access to accounts that monies were eventually transferred to.
Khama stated that the allegations in Hubona’s affidavit are false and were deliberately and maliciously fabricated with the nefarious intention to tarnish his name and all those mentioned in the said affidavit. “Let me also announce that I have commissioned Cherie Blair CBE, QC and her law firm, Omnia Strategy, to undertake an independent and thorough inquiry into the allegations in the affidavit. I look forward to receiving the Omnia Report and I expect it will contribute to our understanding of this state sponsored scandal”, said former President Khama.
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.