The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has won the country’s 12th general election with a resounding margin. The party has ruled the country since its independence in 1966. The win gives President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi a five year term to implement the BDP’s manifesto which promises among other things, growing the economy to create jobs, and effect a constitutional review.
The BDP won 38 seats out of a possible 57 seats, giving it 66.66% of the vote. The main opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), led by Advocate Duma Boko, only managed to garner 15 seats, while the former president Dr Ian Khama-backed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), led by Biggie Butale gained 3 seats, and Ndaba Gaolathe’s Alliance of Progressives (AP) won one seat. In 2014 the BDP won 37 seats and the popular vote stood at about 47%, it has certainly gone up this year.
The BDP white washed the opposition in southern constituencies which include all the five in Gaborone, two Mochudi constituencies, Ramotswa, Tlokweng, two Kanye constituencies, Mogoditshane, two Molepolole constituencies, Goodhope-Mabule, Mathethe-Molapowabojang, Lobatse, Gabane-Mankgodi, Moshupa-Manyana, Lentsweletau-Mmopane, Jwaneng-Mabutsane and Thamaga. The BDP dominance also stretched to the Western part of the country where it won both Kgalagadi constituencies, as well as Takatokwane and Letlhakeng-Lephephe.
The wave of red in the south was influenced by President Masisi who took over the leadership of the ruling party 18 months ago. Many observers are of the view that the victory demonstrates the confidence the voters have on President Masisi to turn around the fortunes of the country after reports of widespread corruption and a non-responsive government. Masisi has vowed to deal with corruption, enforce rule of law, address poverty and unemployment among some of his key themes.
Also key in this election was the feud between President Masisi and his predecessor, Dr Ian Khama, who had made it his personal mission to unseat Masisi. This in the view of many earned Masisi substantial sympathy votes and they gave him a fresh mandate to lead the country for the next five years. The instructive win gives the BDP, which has been in power for 53 years, a chance to implement major constitutional, economic and developmental changes which President Masisi has promised will “change Botswana for the better, and propel it on a new growth path”.
Ever since President Masisi took over the party, there has been a consistent message of ‘the re-birth of the BDP’ and it is evident from the results that voters have been attracted to the new BDP hence they rejected the opposition alternative that promised to deliver 100 000 in 12 months, P3000 minimum wage, P1500 old age pension and P2500 tertiary students allowance among other goodies. President Masisi has resisted calls for him to set targets for himself during the election campaign trail.
The BDP’s big jump in popular vote is ascribed to the decision by the leader of the UDC, Duma Boko to associate himself with the former President, Dr Ian Khama who was very unpopular in urban centres and most areas with close proximity to the capital city Gaborone. The BDP scored huge victories in all these areas. On the flip though the Khama influence was evident in the central district where his BPF managed to win 3 Serowe constituencies and further hurt the chances of the BDP in Palapye, Mahalapye East and Mahalapye West, Bobonong, Shoshong and Tonota constituencies.
This is what President Masisi said as it appears on the BDP’s social media page, “Batswana, thank you for voting BDP! I am humbled and honoured that you again entrusted the BDP with your confidence and mandate to uplift the lives of our people and to strengthen our country. As the President of Botswana for the next five years, I am blessed and privileged to serve you and I promise you that I will continue to do so with integrity, compassion, humility and honesty.
“When we created our 15-point manifesto more than a year ago, it was in consultation with you to discuss your fears and concerns but more so your hopes and dreams. Our manifesto addresses all your concerns in a sensible, practical and efficient manner that takes into account our current economic conditions but also considers future economic development and prosperity. I can assure you that my team and I are unabated in our commitment to you and will work relentlessly to ensure that every goal listed in our declaration is achieved and importantly, that you attain financial freedom,” President Masisi said of the BDP’s victory.
“The BDP-led government will lead the country on a renewed path of economic transformation and create jobs that will roll back the scourge of poverty, through various initiatives as outlined in our growth strategy, which will focus on increasing employment opportunities and creating suitable jobs for our young people, particularly our graduates,” he continued. He further appealed to opposition leaders to accept the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision which clearly saw the BDP as the nation’s preferred political party of choice.
“As the Leader of State, I appeal to the opposition leaders and their supporters to accept the BIEC ruling and to bear in mind that Botswana is a peaceful, non-violent, respectful and humble nation and that political interference to change our culture for political gain will not be tolerated,” President Masisi added. “I appreciate that it is vital for any country to have strong political opposition to ensure the ruling party is kept on its toes to that ensure that Botswana and her people are always government’s main priority. Under my leadership, I appeal to government, as a multi-party collective, to play a far greater role in supporting, developing and uplifting Batswana. By putting our people first, Botswana will soon claim its rightful position as the gem of Africa,” concluded President Masisi.
The BDP manifesto, which will continue to be seen as a blueprint for Botswana’s development, includes: Creating meaningful and sustainable jobs; Fighting corruption; Nurturing inclusive government; Guaranteeing free media; Reviewing our constitution and policies; Improving education and training; Driving knowledge-based economy; Growing the private sector; Empowering SMEs; Updating land tenure laws; Improving working conditions; Ensuring robust services delivery; Providing quality healthcare; Revamping social development; and Attracting local and international investors.
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.