Public Enterprises, Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) board has resolved this week to suspend Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Obakeng Moumakwa from his post reportedly owing to the allegations that have marred the organisation recently.
PEEPA is responsible for advising Government on privatisation strategies as well as implementation of privatisation, which includes commercialisation, restructuring, outsourcing and divesture interventions for the effectiveness and efficiency of public enterprises and ministries as well as promoting good corporate governance in quasi-government institutions.
Moumakwa’s suspension came effective on Thursday, with the agency’s Acting Corporate Communications Manager, Mosikare Mogegeh saying ‘the decision is taken to enable the Board to undertake an internal investigations into the allegations levelled against the agency.” In the absence of Moumakwa, Director of Strategy and Programmes Ishmael Joseph has taken over the reins on acting basis.
The decision to suspend Moumakwa comes just a fortnight after PEEPA announced that the agency have set in motion a process that will see the privatisation of BMC. The decision was announced jointly by Moumakwa and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Jimmy Opelo. PEEPA recently awarded two tenders to locally based companies; leading auditing firm Deloitte Botswana as well as leading corporate law firm Minchin & Kelly.
Deloitte was awarded the P4.2 million tender relating to assessing the value of BMC Maun abattoir, which has since been de-linked from the BMC, and would be privatised separately. Meanwhile Minchin & Kelly was awarded the tender relating to the main BMC, and has been mandated among others to explore feasible privatisation models, and make a recommendation to government.
Deloitte is expected to have concluded its work in the next 10 weeks, while Minchin & Kelly has been given up to September to complete its work, owing to the magnitude of its mandate compared to the former. While the process to award the two tenders may have been questioned, Moumakwa explained then that the process which led to the award of the two tenders was a fair and transparent. Moumakwa said the with regard to the main BMC tender, PEEPA had issued an Expression of Interest (EOI), of which five companies responded.
The five companies which responded, according to Moumakwa, were invited to submit Request for Proposal (RFP), of which four companies responded. The PEEPA then resolved to offer the tender to Minchin & Kelly based on its submissions. Relating to the Maun abattoir, PEEPA approached Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA) and requested names of companies registered with them, and then offered them the opportunity respond to RFP, of which 9 companies out of 10 registered with BAOA responded. The agency reached a conclusion on Deloitte.
Moumakawa’s arrival at the organisation has been clouded by controversy since day one following a disapproval from Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises. In September 2018, Office of the President Permanent Secretary Thato Ramodimoosi came under fire from the committee led by Tati East legislator Samson Guma for appointing Moumakwa without the input of the board.
Moumakwa, the onetime Kgalagadi North Member of Parliament was appointed to office during the reign of President Khama, with Eric Molale, then Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration being instrumental in his recruitment. However, sources indicate that Moumakwa may be paying the price for his political affiliation. Though Moumakwa has been not been in active politics since leaving at the end of 2007, many still associate him with the Botswana National Front (BNF), the party he represented in parliament.
PEEPA was moved from Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in 2016 amid strong resistance from opposition legislators. According to his aide, Moumakwa is fighting tooth and nail to challenge the suspension. He has engaged attorneys, to solicit for legal advice on the matter.
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.