By appointing veteran Minister Eric Molale to head the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) strategists are expecting him to ensure that most of the party members should make the cut for specially nominated councilors.
Minister Molale is by law and purpose expected to announce the final list of nominated councilors soon, usually the last hope of redemption for election losers and political enthusiasts. He is expected to announce appointment of at least 133 nominated councilors. It is expected that majority of BDP loyalists who lost in the recent general elections will make the list.
Weekendpost could not get an authoritative comment from Molale this week, as he is still new in the portfolio, other reasons were that he was busy with parliamentary business. For now the Ministry is still awaiting various names wishing to be nominated for the council seats. The list will be submitted by District Commissioners throughout the country after consulting with political parties and Dikgosi in their respective areas.
Special nomination of councillors has been a debatable matter over the years, with opposition politicians questioning its purpose and fairness. In the last general elections (2014), of the 133 councillors nominated by the then Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Slumber Tsogwane, only seven belonged to the opposition while the rest were BDP members and predominately preceding election losers.
By law, each party in a council has the right to suggest names for the positions of nominated councilors which are routed through the District Commissioners for consideration by the Ministers. Each constituency is entitled to two nominations which the Minister could decline or accept. “But I can tell you that though the opposition had a good showing, central part will be awarded mostly to the sympathizers of the ruling party especially its members. The party wishes to stamp its authority in the region and chances of opposition members getting the two nominations are next to zero, they will definitely not get,” a highly placed source within the party has revealed to this publication.
There are 15 constituencies in the Central District, which means that there will be 30 councillors for that region. CDC is the largest in the country and accounts for most of the constituencies and council seats. Weekend Post has it on good authority that party activists, especially those who worked hard during the campaigns and those who lost in the past general elections will be rewarded with the special nominations’ to various councils. BDP is also said to be working on a plan that will ensure that nomination of councillors will be used to neutralize opposition in councils were BDP numbers fell short.
Nominated Councillors have in the past helped the ruling party to balance power in Local Authorities. There are areas where the BDP was outnumbered by a small fraction and it used the dispensation to manipulate the scales. After the October 23rd elections, the ruling party has control of; Francistown City Council, Sowa Town, North East District Council, Chobe District Council, Southern District Council, and Lobatse Town Council, Jwaneng Town Council, South East, Kweneng, Kgatleng and Kgalagadi, it however shares Ghanzi with UDC. The UDC is expected to control North West, Central District Council, and Selibe Phikwe.
Among the nominated councillors in the last General Elections whose names raised eyebrows was Alec Seametso, who led the BDP’s 2014 elections campaign. Also nominated in 2014 were Oliphant Mfa, Andy Boatile and Shabir Kablay. This time around the likes of Lotty Manyapedza and Mpho Kooreme are already hinted as possible nominations. The system has always been condemned by opposition MPs as a way of bringing back rejected individuals by the voters, therefore going against the wishes of the electorates.
Even in the past BDP heavy weights like former Vice President, Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe have spoken against the practice. During the 9th Parliament, Kedikilwe tabled a motion in parliament calling for the system to be scrapped as it had diverted from its intended purpose and instead been turned into a patronage exercise aimed at rewarding BDP activists.
The immediate past leader of opposition, Duma Boko has in the past revealed that his party planned to overhaul the legislation surrounding specially elected MPs and councillors. “I must record the indignant rage felt by us in the opposition and indeed the scornful resentment all reasonable citizens feel at this disgraceful conduct. There is nothing honorable about the conduct of the executive in this regard.”
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.