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Elections 2019: BDF, BPS on high alert

As the 2019 General Elections draw nearer, the country’s security apparatus; the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Botswana Police Service (BPS), have stated that they remain on high alert to maintain public order during the elections.

Political experts and observers anticipate that the impending elections will be very competitive and hotly contested and therefore peculiar and like no other. For the first time in the past 12 elections in the country, the opposition conglomerate Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) presents a clear chance which has been the preserve of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Speaking to Weekend Post via the Director of Protocol and Public Affairs office, Tebo Dikole, the BDF Commander Placid Segokgo, has stated that they remain vigilant to maintain order and ready to assist if they are needed in the execution of excitable lots. “Notwithstanding section 61 of the Electoral Act sub section 1, the BDF Act, 2018 section 33 (1), succinctly states that ‘the Commander may, at the request of the Commissioner of Police, and with the consent of the President, authorise the use of any member or unit of the BDF in support of, or to give assistance to, the BPS in the discharge of their functions under section 6 of the Police Act,’ ” Segokgo pointed out.

He however maintained to this publication that the BDF wishes to state that the maintenance of peace and orderliness during elections is the prerogative of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the BPS. The BDF commander continued: “albeit it is worth noting that the BDF mission is and continues to be, to defend Botswana’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and national interests.”

In a separate interview, Senior Superintendent Near Bagali, BPS's deputy Public Relations Officer, speaking on behalf of the Botswana Police Commissioner Keabetswe Makgophe, stated that they will deploy the police across the country for any eventuality that may occur during the exercise of the election process. “The Botswana Police Service, will be taking into account that 2019 is an election year (National General Elections) and therefore provide a conducive environment through the maintenance of law and order,” Makgophe stated.

In a nutshell, he said, just like the past elections, the BPS is prepared for this year's National General Elections and the Police officers will be deployed across the country to carry out their mandate. He stressed that the mandate of the Botswana Police Service is to ensure the safety and security of the people of Botswana, as outlined in the BPS Act, Cap 21:01.  

The Act outlines the mandate of the BPS as follows; “the Service shall be employed throughout Botswana to protect life and property, prevent and detect crime, repress internal disturbances, maintain security and public tranquillity, apprehend offenders, duly enforce all written laws with which it is directly charged and generally maintain the peace”.

According to the Police Commissioner, it is for this reason that section 61 of the Electoral Act sub section 1 provides that Polling Officers and BPS officers, who will be on duty for the upcoming general elections are by law permitted to vote not more than 14 days before elections.
Meanwhile IEC Principal Public Relations Officer, Osupile Maroba concurred that there appears to be a lot of excitement surrounding the coming elections.

“I expect these elections will be very competitive. The mood is no longer than which that we are used to. There is too much excitement this time around,” he pointed out to Weekend Post. He explained that sometimes excitement may bring or come with challenges, and so when some people become excited they need to be controlled otherwise they can derail and disturb the peace and then the elections become chaos.

“We spoke to security apparatus especially the Police, so that in the event that there are public riots or a situation which wants some kind of attention they are prepared to control the situation to normalcy,” he insisted. In fact he emphasised that they have spoken about such issues to find out how they can control the situation if things spiral out of control.

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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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