A ferocious battle between Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), to win the Serowe West constituency has drove the two parties to stage their massive launches same day next weekend, with the ruling party planning to suspend all their national activities for the launch.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi, will launch Moemedi Dijeng, while BPF through their patron, Ian Khama, will also be unveiling their new catch in Tshekedi Khama. Dijeng replaced Tshekedi as BDP candidate following the latter’s resignation from the party last week. Tshekedi was citing failure for corrective action against BDP Women Wing Chairperson Dorcas Makgato, by the party as the watershed point. He expressed grief at what Makgato said about his late father, hoping the party would have taken action but it was not to be.
Since independence, the constituency has been held by the BDP and TK’s defection to the BPF has sent a chilling warning which suggests that the BDP dominance could be over; reason being he is the younger brother to the area’s paramount chief and the royal family have been strong in most constituencies they contest in. On the other hand, the BDP has also drafted a counter plan to neutralise a possibly high tempo launch by the newly formed party.
With Masisi going to launch Dijeng, party strategists have suggested that in order for the BDP to make a statement, all constituencies should be present at the launch. Though the proposal is yet to be adopted, it looks certain that the party will implement it. Already a star rally that was to be officiated by Masisi in Maun West, on Saturday, this however has been cancelled. “He will only attend Kgosi Tawana’s birthday party in the morning then leave for Serowe afterwards to officiate at the launch,” shared a source within the party, on Thursday afternoon.
Other activities that have been moved to Sunday includes; Francistown West candidate Ignatius Moswaane’s launch by President Masisi and another star rally in Maun East, to be addressed by party Chairman and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane. All these have been moved to Sunday as a gesture of how serious the party intends to redeem itself in the Bangwato capital. This development has been welcomed by many within the party including cabinet ministers who even added that: “I wholly agree with this and my thought is H.E should make a directive that all MP candidates should go there to make sure that we paint Serowe red.”
If suggestion to have all MPs fails, the party is still contemplating to make another statement, “but let’s not halt all activities country-wide, we can send teams from various constituencies to boost the launch,” added another party big-wig. The defection by TK who is the son to the BDP’s founding father, Seretse Khama, has posed a threat to the ruling party, with its Campaign Manager Tebelelo Seretse admitting it will cost them. Part of the reasons BDP wants to “ambush” the BPF launch is to neutralise it and try by all means to demonstrate how strong the BDP is in the area.
All the while, there are some within the party who believe the party should not try to take BPF head on by launching on the same day. “I don’t think it is wise, if it is same day with Tshekedi, it wouldn’t look good,” advised another minister. At the time of going to print, Seretse who is National Campaigns Manager and Serowe overseer, was not available to comment as she was too busy for an interview. She however did confirm that “indeed Masisi will launch Dijeng on the 12th”.
Party Secretary General Mpho Balopi, could not talk to this publication as his mobile phone rang unanswered. In the last elections, Tshekedi won the constituency by 5401. He was followed by UDC’s Rolent Kambule, who managed 948 and Botswana Congress Party’s (BCP) Edwin Seabe garnering only 431.
The relationship between Khama and Dijeng has always been rocky ahead of the party’s primary elections. Khama had wanted Dijeng who was challenging him, to be barred from contesting, saying the latter had contravened the party’s code of conduct. TK went further to drag the party to the courts of law when ‘the party defended Dijeng’s candidacy.’
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.