Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is upbeat about the prospects of next month’s general elections to the extent that there is a belief that they will increase their 2014 popular vote from 47 percentage to 52 percentage after the polls.
The positivity according to the party’s National Campaigns Manager, Tebelelo Seretse is derived from many facets which includes goodwill for President Mokgweetsi Masisi and failure by the opposition to be united. “Of course these elections are different because we don’t have what we may call safe constituencies because of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). But we are confident that we will win because we have goodwill and the fact that AP and BMD are not part of the UDC is a plus to us,” Seretse told WeekendPost.
Seretse has been traversing the breadth and width of the country touring all the 57 constituencies. She says the mood from all the areas she has visited is humbling as all the party members are pulling to the same direction. “Realistically we are looking at the popular vote of above 52 percent since we didn’t do so well in the past elections. We are looking at about 60 or 65 percent popular vote if we have failed. In terms of constituencies we are looking at anything less than 50. This we are based on failure to unite by the opposition plus some inconsistencies by the opposition and we are adamant that they would swing pendulum to our favour.”
Seretse is of the view that had she assumed the campaigns manager role earlier, she could be telling a different story. In the past elections, the BDP popular vote fell drastically from 53 percent in 2009 to 47 percent in the last polls, their worst electoral performance since independence. In the process, the opposition won an unprecedented combined 20 seats in parliament. There were lot of variables in 2014 leading to BDP’s declining popular vote, chief among them acrimonious relationship with the workers and trade unions who decided TO endorse opposition coalition of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
With government having increased public servants salaries as well as de-linking the disciplined forces from others, there is optimism within the ruling party. A number of policies and actions by the party including attracting foreign direct investment, fighting unemployment, free education, and corruption free and strengthening of the government oversight institutions will ensure the BDP retain power according to Seretse.Seretse, who expressed confidence on the party’s tactics, said the approach vary per constituencies looking at many factors including the presence of the opposition and the general attitude of voters.
“For example what we do in urban areas will be different to what we do in a semi-Urban and rural area,” she said. With former President Lt Gen Ian Khama now fighting his ex-party through Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), the campaigns manager did not shy away from the fact they would want him back to their party. “Politics is a game of numbers and as a party we would like to see all our members back including former President Khama,” she said.
According to Seretse, the BDP stands to reach around 80 percent popular vote in 2024. This she says will be influence by the putting into action promises President Masisi is giving the nation going to these elections. She however admits the walk to elections is not free of thorns. “Of course there are challenges; we don’t have funds, but the democrats are trying. You can see the visibility of our party through the merchandise which came at the expense of party,” she said.
BDP popular vote since 1965 YEAR PERCENTAGE 1965 80.4% 1969 68.83% 1974 76.62% 1979 75.16% 1984 68% 1989 64.78% 1994 54.59% 1999 54.34% 2004 50.63% 2009 53.26% 2014 46.7%
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.