Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) national campaign team members who strategized for the party in the just ended General Elections, are waiting with bated breath for President Mokgweetsi Masisi to deliver the terms agreed before going to the polls.
This week President Masisi met with an eight member team for a luncheon at the State House. The purpose of the meeting according to head of the campaign team Tebelelo Seretse, was just “a thank you interaction by H.E to the team after General Elections.” Seretse however could not divulge more about the Wednesday luncheon. Weekendpost has nonetheless established that before the team was assembled in July, a very casual meeting was arranged, where terms and conditions to motivate the team were agreed upon.
Seretse who was appointed by Masisi to lead the BDP campaign, had to route her subordinates’ requests to higher office for consideration. "But the final decisions was to be taken by the First Citizen [Masisi], looking at the available cloth,” a very close informant shared with this publication. After being appointed by Masisi, Seretse had to recruit other members to assist her in coordinating the ruling party’s campaign. Information gleaned from various sources within the party tell this publication that Seretse was eyeing to be a Specially Elected Member of Parliament (SEMP).
“That was supposed to be the case but she was left in awe when she was snubbed from the August House. And for now really it is difficult to say what she can get politically, because as you may know all the vacancies are filled. It is clear she can’t go to a Council”. Seretse, in an interview on Thursday morning, distanced herself from all these.
“H.E never promised me or my team anything. We were just doing it for the party when we were campaigning. So whoever is saying that you should take it with a pinch of salt. Remember I have been a Minister, Ambassador and all those senior positions, so there is nothing that can entice me,” said Seretse.
The campaign team was made up of Seretse as the head, Bashi Kgakge covering Kweneng and Kgalagadi, Bontsi Monare taking Lobatse and Borolong areas. Pelonomi Bantsi was overseeing Gaborone and Kweneng East, Boyce Sebetela in Central, Botho Ntirang was heading Francistown and surrounding areas, Kambimbaha Mbahanka at Chobe and Ngami and lastly Benjamin Morokonyana manning Moshupa and Kanye constituencies.
The team managed to deliver 38 out of 57 constituencies and their confidence was reaching new levels after the victory, anticipating that they will be rewarded handsomely in consideration of their demands. However, the mood in the camp is somehow sombre after the matter was not discussed at the Wednesday luncheon, an informant says. “We are politicians and for us to continue with it we have to be on the ground. The ground here I am referring to parliament or council but any portfolio is okay,” opened up one member of the team.
He added; “We didn’t discuss the demands issue at a luncheon because we were invited by Masisi and maybe he could have opened up about it, anyway it is fine he is an adult, I believe he will not forget us.” Apart from Seretse targeting SEMP, it is also revealed that one senior member of the party, Boyce Sebetela who was guarding the gigantic Central District for the elections, is said to have proposed to get blessings from Masisi to contest the party’s Secretary General position. The party will next year assemble for the elective congress and Sebetela, according to sources, wants to dethrone the incumbent Mpho Balopi, who is also Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development.
Other members of the party were to be rewarded with leadership positions of various councils. However, after what has happened to Seretse, the other members are pessimistic that they would get anything. “It is not done yet we remain hopeful that we will definitely be rewarded. We were working day and night and we will have to get something political,” added the member. Observers however believe that Masisi will come to the party and return the favour to scores of BDP members who helped the party to retain power.
This is based on the fact that the campaign team was made up by known and influential party members and if he does not entice them he might lose their support. “He has done away with the popular names in the cabinet and the party. This was done to take control of both, but with the party it is difficult because they might change anytime if they feel you are not trustful. So he should tread carefully within the party so that the influential minds do not revolt against him,” says political scientist Teedzani Mpaphi.
Already the popular names both in the cabinet and party have been ejected. Nonofo Molefhi, Dorcas Makgato and Shaw Kgathi are among those who are now out and the only redemption they could get is to hold senior positions within the party. Masisi’s cabinet is made up of new comers and not so popular figures within the BDP. “So those senior and opinion leading members should be kept close to avoid rebellion,” advised Mpaphi.
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.