Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), has this week emerged victorious in a case in which its former employee, Primrose Solomon was suing for unfair dismissal and praying for reinstatement or compensation.
When delivering the verdict on Tuesday this week, Industrial Court Judge, Isaac Bahuma resolved that Solomon’s dismissal was procedurally fair. “This case is about applicant’s claim for reinstatement and compensation based on her contention that the dismissal was unfair. The Court has made a finding that the respondent has proved on a balance of probabilities that applicant misconducted herself in handling the URB application,” reads the judgement. “The Court also found that the disciplinary process proceeding the applicant’s dismissal was fair. Consequently the applicant’s claim has to fail and Court so finds.”
Solomon, who was Portfolio Executive in Structured Finance Department at CEDA was dismissed from the organisation on the 26th of February 2018, owing to her handling of an application for short term finance by United Refineries Botswana (Pty) Ltd, a company co-owned by former Tati East Member of Parliament, Samson Guma.
The court heard that on the 14th of November 2017, James Moribame, who is Head of Structured Finance of which Solomon was under, received an application from URB (Pty) Ltd, for a short term facility of P9.2 million as well as restructuring of their interest in the non-performing loans.
The application was handed to Solomon for appraisal of which she raised red flags among others; URB had a credit facility of P30 million which they were failing to service; URB was trading at a gross loss, the cost of raw materials exceeded market price; URB had no audited accounts since inception; URB had violated its share agreement with CEDA by diluting the latter’s shares; URB was not tax compliant; URB was technically insolvent and was facing closure by FNBB (P25 million) and BDC (P15 837 868.62).
Despite the red flags, Moribame gave Solomon a go ahead to appraise the application with the view of recommending funding, but the latter could not do as requested within the stipulated time [5 days for short-term finance]. This resulted in Moribame, out of exasperation instructing Solomon to hand over the task to another colleague, Aobakwe Mokgethi who then delivered the task the same day.
After completion of appraisal of URB application, Mokgethi sent the appraisal to Management Committee for consideration. The document was copied to Solomon, who in turn sent an email detailing the red flags which were ‘ignored by her colleague’ during appraisal. The application however did not succeed because URB had reached CEDA threshold of P30 million and also that then Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse refused to give a waiver.
On the 19th of December 2017, Moribame generated a report in which he accused Solomon of having promised on different occasions to submit the report, but failing to do so, resulting in him giving wrong information to management that the report was ready when it was not. The report resulted in Solomon being charged, subsequently appearing before the disciplinary hearing, which concluded on her dismissal on the 26 of February 2018.
Solomon, considered the dismissal unfair, and approached Industrial Court to seek relief. In seeking the relief, Solomon said the dismissal was not merely a result of how she handled the URB issue, but because of previous issues in which CEDA CEO had given her an ultimatum to either resign or face disciplinary action.
Solomon had accused Thamane of having acted negligently by failing to bring to the attention an application to management for consideration. Thamane, according to Solomon, was so incensed by the accusation, a justification which Solomon contended that it led to her expulsion and that the URB issue was the scapegoat.
The court however, arrived to the conclusion that there was no evidence to prove the link between what had happened earlier to the URB disciplinary action, which the court concluded it was fair and procedural, therefore upholding CEDA’s decision to dismiss Solomon from work. According to the evidence, given by CEDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Thabo Thamane, and other CEDA senior executives who were subpoenaed by the court, Solomon was dismissed for misconduct relating to handing of URB matter, of which the court agreed.
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.