The main opposition party, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), is resolute and will fight to the bitter end with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), to have an equitable and proportional representation in the Parliamentary Standing Committees.
There are 23 Parliamentary Committees from which five are Inter-Parliamentary Committees and already the latter’s members have been elected with 18 committes expected to be voted for next week. It is from the five international parliamentary committess that the UDC has read malice from their counterparts and raised a complaint.
“We have already submitted a complaint over the unequal representation of the inter-parliamentary committes in which you will have five BDP members against one of us. There should be equal and proportional representation in these committees, the BDP is ruling how can they police themselves,” UDC spokesperson on Parliamentary Reforms and Culture, Pono Moatlhodi asked rhetorically.
UDC which ammased 15 constituencies from last month’s General Elections, is unwavering in their stance and has threatened that should the BDP maintain ‘selfishness’ in other committes to be voted for next week, they will walk-out. “If our complaint fell on deaf ears, we will defintely walk out of those Standing Committees including from the inter-parliamentary committees because clearly it will be all about the BDP. But remember we were all voted for by Batswana to oversee their assets,” Moatlhodi who is also the opposition whip threatened.
The 2014-19 Parliament had a bad start owing to the selection of committee members. Back then, all the 20 UDC members walked out of the committees as a way of protest to show their displeaure on biased committee selection. The then Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe refused to soften her stance, leaving opposition only with Public Accounts Commitee, to Chair. The Standing Orders compels that the PAC be Chaired by an opposition member.
“If they do like what happened in the past we will even write to some of the international organisations so that they know that there is unfair practice in Botswana, despite being hailed as a shining example of democracy. That way, we know that they will not be allowed to have a say in those events,” posited Moatlhodi who is representing Tonota constituency at the National Assembly.
The selection was made this past Thursday, with the results expected to be out on Friday (yesterday). This week all the legislators wishing to be in any of the 18 committees, submitted their names to the National Assembly Secretariat for consideration. The voting is done by the August House accross the political divide.
As is, the BDP which has 38 MPs plus six that were Specially Elected as Members of Parliament (SEMP) has 18 members eligible to seat in the committees. On the other hand, UDC has 15 while Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) has 3, with Alliance for Progressives (AP) with a single member. It is from this corner that UDC wants reasonable representation.
Apart from unfair representation, the UDC laments that it is Batswana or Parliamentary business that will suffer the most. This, Moatlhodi says, is because if a member for instance is sitting in five committes and they (committees) clash, the other one will be at a disadvantage. Following the protests immedeately after the 2014 elections, the BDP through its then Chief Whip, Fedilis Molao compromised so that the National Assembly business could not be compromised. Out of 18 Standing Committes BDP got 9 while the remaining 9 was divided between UDC and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) MPs. The storm was over, and business continued. This could be what Moatlhodi is hoping for this term.
While the opposition is adamant that it has a case to abandon Parliamentary committees, the BDP on the other hand, is of the view that the opposition should understand that they are a party in power. The BDP has always been of the view that the commitee representation numbers should reflect the number of one’s seats in Parliament. The BDP Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay told this publication that they are likely to have a 50-50 representation but revealed that it is all about democracy as those with many members will win.
The Botswana Parliament is created by Section 57 of the Constitution and it is composed of the President and the National Assembly. The role of Parliament is to make laws as stipulated in Section 86 of the Constitution, which states that: ‘Parliament shall have the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Botswana.’ In this way it means Parliament exercises legislative powers as one of its core mandates. In addition, Parliament performs functions such as representation, scrutiny and oversight
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.