As Botswana heads to the polls in about a fortnight, clashes between perceived beneficiaries under the former administration of Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama and pallbearers of the current administration under President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are largely at play – Tizza Seduke of Defence Concepts is one of the characters in this script and he is feeling the pinch of being collateral.
“When two elephants tussle it is the grass that suffers,” as the old adage goes, I could be likened to grass in this case. The current administration sees me as one of the blue eyed boys of the former administration whilst those from the former administration did not want anything to do with me,” cries Tizza Seduke, a self-made businessman who shot to fame when his flying school was linked with former President Khama and the then Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Director General Isaac Kgosi.
“Nothing has ever been far from the truth as this allegation. I own the International Aviation School (IAS) or flying school, neither Kgosi nor Khama has ever been a director or a shareholder of that school. The truth of the matter is that at some point they wanted to take the school away from me and I refused. I was not one of their favourites,” declared Seduke.
Seduke’s company, Defence Concepts, has done work for the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) during Kgosi’s time, but according to Seduke, he only got one job back in 2013, “we never got any other job with the DIS”. He said the job they got was the P49 million Mahalapye Prison fencing through an open tender process. We beat a company that had quoted P39 million for the job because we are the exclusive suppliers of the material that was required for the job. After quoting P39 million, that company was still going to come back to us for supply of the wire,” he explained.
Seduke’s company had caught the eye of Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), after it was awarded a P49 million tender for the construction of the Mahalapye Prison fence. Although the project fell under the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, it was coordinated by DISS which falls under the Office of the President. Contrary to popular belief that the tender was allocated through a selective tendering process, where Defence Concepts was identified as the preferred supplier without going to open tender, Seduke stresses that they were competing with another company which had actually quoted lower.
“The other challenge for our competitor in this job is that they did not have a PPADB Grade E.” Seduke said like any company he had been ‘marketing’ his products and services, hence DIS recognized him as a professional company, “I had no say in their procurement process. I only responded to invitations and gave service to the best of my ability,” he stressed. He shared that he did fencing solutions for the DIS because he was the exclusive provider of the fence they required. According to Seduke, it was for DIS management to ensure that procurement procedures were followed.
Seduke also confirmed that the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) had approached his business operations for auditing. “As Batswana we stigmatize the mandate of BURS when they audit our companies. This does not mean that there is always something wrong. It’s to encourage compliance. They have audited me before and it was not the first time and it was nothing unusual,” he said. Seduke said he does not see this as a witch-hunt, the only thing that worries him is that people link his businesses with Khama and Kgosi “which is unfair”. “Those people had actually attempted to close me down,” he said.
THE KGOSI FALLOUT
In an interview recently, Seduke confirmed that he has been investigated by the DCEC as part of the agency’s investigation against Kgosi and the DIS among others. “Yes DCEC has investigated me. The allegations surrounded us being engaged by DIS, that was around 2012 and I submitted a statement to DCEC. Since then they have never approached me in relation to those issues.”
He explained that there was confusion as to how the tender shifted from Ministry of Defence Justice and Security to Office of the President, “Remember that in 2017 there was a breakout at Mahalapye prison after Prisons department failed to get the tender or the job done. Since this was seen as a security threat, DIS got involved to coordinate whole project and they ran an Expression of Interest to which we responded,” he said.
Seduke stated that during the interview the DCEC had wanted to know if he was paid in cash or transfers, “I told them the truth as I know it. There was nothing to hide hence my name was cleared.” He said a few of his payments were made in cash. “After this interaction with the DCEC I had a fallout with Kgosi, I could not tell why but I suspected it was borne from my revelations that I was paid in cash,” he said.
According to Seduke Kgosi has not spoken to him since the day he was interviewed by the DCEC and he has not been invited to tender for any job at the DIS. “It is unfortunate that I continue to be linked with DIS jobs when I was long blacklisted for telling the DCEC the truth that I knew.” When asked if he had any personal relationship with Kgosi, Seduke said he had a working relationship with Kgosi “due to the fact that he is someone who is hands on.”
SEDUKE AND THE KHAMA LINK
When asked about his relationship with former President Khama, Seduke was quick to point out that he had met him only on three occasions and at a distance. “I only met Khama last year for the first time in what I would say was a close proximity.” Seduke said people link him to Khama because his Flying School (IAS) is located within the same compound as the Flying Club. “The Flying Club owns the land and we are renting from them. We pay them P15 000 per month,” he said. Khama is the patron of the Flying Club.
Seduke however admitted that his school took advantage of the Flying club Patrons Dinner by staging their graduation ceremonies on the same dates as the dinner. He said he has not engaged Khama on any subject related to his businesses, “I was doing my businesses in a clean manner and I did not want to ingratiate myself to powers that be for my success, I had worked for it,” he said. He said he was aware of allegations that he was fronting for some influential individuals in the society. “There is nothing for me to hide. There has never been an influential individual who is a shareholder or has beneficial interest in my companies. Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) is there to find out,” he said.
THE FLYING SCHOOL IS IN TROUBLE
As of now Seduke’s Flying School is in trouble and he may be forced to retrench workers soon. The Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) has declined to accredit the school and Government is not sending students for training at the school instead South African schools are preferred. “But is it interesting that the Aviation Body, Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) which accredited by ICAO, has assessed our school and equipment and found them worthy,” said Seduke.
He said he wants to ensure that he satisfies BQA standards hence he pushed for CAAB to assess his school. “Prior to 2016 the entire delta was flooded with white South African pilots and after we graduated a number of pilots the localization initiative gained traction at the delta,” said Seduke. Seduke is currently engaging BQA on accreditation of his school and “I hope this has nothing to do with the notion that Khama or Kgosi are part my school, they have never been and they will never be. I refused to sell my school to certain people linked to them,” he said.
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.