Incumbent Leader of Opposition (LOO) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando has not consulted with the party President Duma Gideon Boko on the opposition reaction to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Weekend Post has learned.
It is not clear whether Boko, as the then LOO engaged and consulted with his Vice President and President of Botswana Congress party (BCP), an affiliate of UDC – who was then not in Parliament – on the party reaction towards the SONA and other equally critical matters at Parliament. However some independent pundits believe that, Saleshando as Boko’s Vice President, should from time to time consult with him on matters of national interest, especially to solicit his comments on important national matters like SONA.
When approached by this publication, Saleshando only confirmed consulting with other party colleagues in Parliament and not Boko per se. “Yes, on Tuesday I met UDC Parliamentarians to solicit their comments on SONA. I met those I was seeking help from – meaning the resource persons inside the party. So, Tuesdays and Thursdays I was going through the script,” he told Weekend Post on Thursday. When pressed on UDC President, he continued: “there was limited time to prepare to respond. In fact there was no time at all. I made the script in a short period of time, and had to respond timely.”
However, Saleshando could not be drawn on specific discussion on why he snubbed Boko on his reaction, insisting that he is not at liberty to comment on it. “I have no comment on that one,” he insisted. In terms of his response nonetheless, the Leader of Opposition said to this publication that he believes he spoke contents, and spoke to realities in the country, issues and concerns in the build up to the elections, economics of Botswana and all the problems bedeviling the country including and most importantly unemployment.
He dismissed Masisi’s SONA address saying it lacked the aspect of human condition in Botswana. “Your SONA should in the first instance be about the human condition in Botswana, i.e. how Batswana are doing? Put a human face to development management by prioritising issues of unemployment, poverty and, inequality.” He therefore stressed that Masisi’s SONA was deficient of statistics that matter about the state of human well-being in Botswana, which could have taken the core of his address.
UDC to review DCEC, DISS Act; bring Freedom of Information Act
In the speech, Saleshando relayed to the nation, UDC Parliamentary Plan for the coming 12 Months. He stated: “high on our priority, will be to amend the DCEC Act, to make it more independent and efficient in its mandate to combat corruption. We will also be presenting the Freedom of Information Act, which is a critical tool in combating corruption. We will also propose changes to the DISS Act to allow for accountability. These will be done within the next 12 months.”
‘We have also,’ he added, ‘decided to prioritise 3 of our election pledges over the coming 12 months and these are job creation, a shift to a living wage of P 3,000.00 in the formal sector within 3 financial years as well as increasing the Old Age Pension to P 1,500.00.’’ According to Saleshando, the starting point with job creation will be to insist on an annual target for the number of jobs to be created. ‘We owe it to our people to make the bold commitments on job creation. We remain convinced that 100,000 in 12 months is possible. If you find this target unattainable, please come forward and state the BDP target.”
He told the BDP Government that they will support them in the target they set for themselves, but not having a target is not acceptable and demonstrates lack of commitment to job creation. In the UDC held constituencies, he promised that the Constituency Development Funds will be strategically used to focus on labour intensive projects.
The Maun West MP continued: “there is also a need to have an annual target of repatriating the jobs that Botswana has exported. Our raw materials have been used to create jobs in foreign countries whilst our people remain unemployed. We need to move up the value chain and process our raw materials.”
We will demonstrate through parliamentary questions and motions that a living wage of P 3,000.00 a month is possible within the coming 3 financial years, the former Gaborone Central law maker highlighted, adding that an upper middle-income country should not be anchored on an impoverished workforce. “Likewise, the Old Age Pension of P 1,500.00 will be fully justified to all within the coming 12 months. Failure to increase the Old Age Pension should not be understood to be due to lack of financial capacity.
We will be demanding for government expenditure to be refocused on assisting citizen owned small and medium sized businesses,’’ he also highlighted. The UDC Vice President also expressed their support for the decision to review the constitution and declaring that they will actively participate in the process. “Chief among our proposals will be a non- discriminatory constitution, a constitution that protects socio-economic rights and oversight institutions,” he pointed out in his response to SONA.
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.