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Masire denies BURS probe obstruction

Former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander Lt Gen Tebogo Masire, who is now a Member of Central Committee for Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s trustee, has reportedly poured scorn on Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS)’s efforts to investigate him.

WeekendPost can reveal that the former BDF chief, Masire is a co- owner and major shareholder of Avante Security Services Botswana (Pty) Ltd (Avante). A few weeks back his business partner, Olebeng Ngwakwena became the latest victim of the law enforcement agencies when he was raided by BURS, DIS, and FIA. Ngwakwena is allegedly a close ally of former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama and his company provides private security to the former President’s retirement office.

DIS Director General Peter Magosi has confirmed that the trio of DIS, BURS and FIA raided the owner of Avante Securities but declined to comment on what was discovered. Magosi told this publication that they are still continuing with their investigations, and once finish, they will take all the perpetrators to court. The DIS chief however confirmed that they have made discoveries that will help their investigations. Ngwakwena’s properties were raided including the house that he long abandoned after his wife was murdered by the maid a few years back.

A close source told WeekendPost that, it was such a traumatising experience for Ngwakwena, because visiting that house brings back memories of his murdered wife but the DIS cared less. It is alleged that after Ngwakwena’s raid, the state agencies then tried to raid a co- owner Masire, but he sent them back and they obliged, a source said. After he retired from the BDF, Masire became an active member of the BDP. Masire is currently the Member of BDP Central Committee (additional) responsible for Gaborone Region.

The retired General is also one of President Masisi’s trustees and advisors according to a close source. Masire worked with the President’s elder brother, Brigadier Thulaganyo Masisi in the military and they remained very close. According to their profile, Avante Security Services Botswana (Pty) Ltd (Avante) is a wholly owned Batswana company, was founded on a heritage of trust and reputation by its sole founder Olebeng Ngwakwena, a specialist in business intelligence and security consultancy.

The company has Head Office in Gaborone in Botswana, and satellite offices in Randburg and Cape Town in South Africa, coupled with strategic network in Botswana and South Africa as well as the rest of the world. Their services include asset protection, security consultancy, investigations, business and operational intelligence, security assessment, due diligence, logistics including armoured car transportation, security assessment and monitoring, risk assessment and management, guarding services, training, design and project management.

Avante specialises in the asset protection, secure transportation and handling of valuable goods throughout the logistics chains, from raw materials and components finished products as well as secure cargo within the mining, precious metals including diamonds and cash management for banking and retail sectors. They are currently contracted to provide security and consultancy services to major clients including Hall of Diamonds Botswana (holder of both Precious Stone Dealers and Diamond Cutting licences in Botswana), MalcaAmit and Ram Couriers International based at Diamond Technology Park, Gaborone as well as mining companies in Botswana just to mention but a few.

Meanwhile General Masire denied any involvement with Avante Security. “I know the owner, Ngwakwena but I am not in anyhow involved in any business dealings with him. That is part of a smear campaign aimed at de- campaigning President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Who am I to question law enforcement officials when they want to investigate me? That is not only baseless but stupid,” said Masire. When reached for comment, Ngwakwena said he did not want to comment on anything concerning Avante Security. He said if the need arises they will release a press statement on the position of the company.

After taking office, Masisi pronounced that fighting corruption is his number one priority. In the wake of dawn, BURS, Financial intelligence Agency (FIA) and Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) has however been accused of anti- BDP and former President Khama’s close allies and raided them. In one of the high profile arrest, the former Director General of DIS Col Isaac Kgosi was arrested on his arrival from overseas at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKA), in Gaborone. Members of opposition parties criticized Masisi for what they viewed as using control of state agencies to fight political battles.

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Botswana economic recovery depends on successful vaccine rollout – BoB

5th May 2021

Bank of Botswana (BoB) has indicated that the rebounding of domestic economy will depended on successful vaccine roll-out which could help business activity to return to its post pandemic days.

Projections by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggest a rebound in economic growth for Botswana in 2021.

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Inside the UB-BDF fighter Jet tragedy report

5th May 2021

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.

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Uphill battle in Khama’s quest to charge Hubona

5th May 2021

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.

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