Opposition politics have shifted from the capital Gaborone to the capital of the central district, Serowe. Former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama used his influence as paramount chief of Bangwato to lure voters from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in the central district. The BDP lost in Serowe for the first time in history this week.
Bangwato had vowed to follow Khama wherever he goes in his political trajectory after he accused President Masisi of destroying his legacy and not treating him well. However the move by Khama also came back to haunt the opposition which he had professed to supporting in the south based constituencies. The cold war been Khama and his successor forced him to form the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) which snatched three Serowe constituencies from the BDP after Wednesday’s elections.
In Serowe West constituency, Tshekedi Khama garnered 4394 votes, followed by BDP parliamentary candidate, Moemedi Dijeng who scooped 2405 votes, followed by Rolent Kambule of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) with 749 votes; while Leremela Bogosing of Alliance for progressives (AP) managed 387 votes. In Serowe North constituency, the BPF parliamentary candidate, Baratiwa Mathoothe garnered 5394 votes, followed by Kgotla Autlwetse from the BDP with 4356 votes, while the UDC parliamentary candidate, Keaobaka Kgano was voted by 1656 people; independent candidate Ndelu Seretse trailed with 926 votes.
In Serowe South constituency, the BPF parliamentary candidate garnered 4 653 votes, while Lesedi Phuthego of the BDP came second with 4237 votes. Moremi Mareka of the UDC was voted by 2 362 people, followed by AP candidate, Iphemele Kgogkothwane with 393 votes, Prince Moitoi of the BMD with 234. Independent candidates, Oteng Thankane and Ian Khumo got 33 and 247 votes respectively. BPF won four council seats in Serowe West constituency – that is in Serokolwane, Kgosing, Dimajwe and Palamaukuwe wards – and the BDP won 2 council seats in Mmashoro and Malatswai wards.
Three weeks ago Tshekedi Khama dropped a political bomb shell and dumped his father’s party, to join his elder brother, former president Ian Khama at the BPF. BDP candidate, Moemedi Dijeng came late in to the race to save his party. The time factor worked against him because the constituency is vast. Furthermore, since he was facing a member of the Ngwato royal family some viewed him as being rebellious and disrespectful to their chieftainship. He was joining a campaign that has already been soiled because former president Ian Khama had thoroughly de-campaigned the BDP.
Dijeng is the son of a former councillor and council chairman in the same constituency who served at the time Blackbeard was Member of Parliament. Dijeng has also challenged for the chairpersonship of the BDP at the Mmadinare elective congress though not well known within the party; he came third with 69 votes. The contest was history in the making as the constituency has always been the reserve for the BDP and Ngwato Royals for the past 53 years. Tshekedi is the first opposition Member of Parliament to win the constituency and Dijeng is the first BDP parliamentary candidate to lose the constituency.
The first MP for Serowe West constituency was the late Sir Seretse Khama, the founding president and also Tshekedi’s father who handed over to Collen Blackbeard, who later handed it over to Ian Khama who in 2008 handed to his younger brother Tshekedi Khama. Tshekedi has been MP of the constituency since 2008. Gomolemo Motswaledi by then was advised not to challenge Tshekedi in the primaries. In 2009 general elections, Tshekedi garnered 1,869 votes while Botswana National Front (BNF)’s Gagolepe Nthebolang got 119 votes.
Fast forward to 2013, Tshekedi was infuriated when Prince Kgwaneng challenged him in the BDP primaries. He called on the BDP to suspend him on allegations of flouting party rules and regulations. However he sailed through in the primaries garnering 3 081 votes against Kgwaneng. Last year Tshekedi was at it again, suing BDP Central Committee for allowing Dijeng to contest in the primary elections despite the fact that he had been disqualified during the vetting process by the branch committee. Tshekedi lost the case where many felt he will bolt out of the BDP but stayed put. In the primaries Tshekedi won again with 2 , 797 votes while Dijeng managed 1, 594 votes. Rakhudu was distant third with 462 votes.
Tshekedi has been accused by his constituents of neglecting them. Khama had to assist him during BDP primary elections campaigns in some instances. Residents of Dimajwe, Mmashoro, Malatswai complained that Tshekedi doesn’t visit their areas and is less concerned about their welfare. The same concerns were again raised ahead of the 2014 general elections where Khama assured residents that Tshekedi will start consulting them.
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.