Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama is on the verge of quitting the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), with several close associates indicating that it is only a matter of time that his best kept secret becomes public.
Khama’s walk out from the BDP—the party which his father Sir Seretse Khama helped found in 1961— follows a series of battles with his successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi. “As the mighty BDP hosts its Manifesto launch on Saturday (today) at the University of Botswana Sports Arena, Khama who confirmed his attendance could be donning the party colours for the last time as the member of the party,” confirmed a highly placed source.
The aftermath of Kang Special Congress where his close friend, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi was challenging Masisi for party presidency is believed to have been the watershed moment. “The aftermath of Kang will continue to haunt the BDP, many people believe Venson-Moitoi was not fairly treated which led to her withdrawing from the race,” a source told WeekendPost.
Sources close to the developments say it remains to be seen if Khama who did not attend the Kang Special Congress on the 5th April this year—opting to play football at his retirement home in Mosu instead—will attend the event today at UB. They said if he do attend, that will be a historic event and needs to be captured because it could be the last time he attend a BDP event donning party colours as the member of the party in good standing.
It is reported that however he chose to remain mum on his political future despite compelling evidence linking him to a new party. “It is not clear whether he will join them or opposition but maybe he will choose to leave politics forever. He is of the view that he was pushed from the party he liked the most,” said a highly placed source. Ever since he ascended to presidency President Masisi has been at loggerheads with his predecessor, making his life even more difficult for Khama and reconciliation even impossible.
When asked about the possibility of leaving BDP, former President Ian Khama was reluctant to answer this reporter and later declined to comment on the matter. He however chose to accuse Masisi of further sinking the mighty BDP and eroding the renowned democracy that once prevailed amongst Batswana. Former President Khama who left office on 1st April 2018 gave the presidential button to Masisi, one of his trusted lieutenants then.
Prior to Khama’s departure, it was believed that Khama had chosen someone whom he will control after leaving office. However, the moment Khama left the office, Masisi emerged from the woods, proving to be his own man. Masisi has come had on key figures in Khama’s administration which he was part of, accusing them of corrupt practices and raiding on them. He launched an attack on Khama and his close associates, a move that saw the war between the two reaching the attention of the international media.
Khama who was viewed as a pillar in the Venson-Moitoi campaign leading to Kang said recent reports that he is now endorsing the opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in particular, as baseless and misleading. He said Botswana is democratic country thus when he is invited by some members of the opposition to attend their events on his spare time he do attend. “This is not endorsement, it is not a crime to be amongst the opposition,” he said.
The former President said Masisi should be held accountable for the things he says but never delivers on his promises. He said after Kang he told democrats that he is now vying for unity in the party but nothing has been done so far. Immediately after what come out as a humiliation on Venson-Moitoi, he called her to his office to smoke a peace pipe but Venson-Moitoi would not take any of it after Masisi refused to drop charges on 30 councils who attended the infamous Serowe meeting.
Khama said so far they are still refusing him with air transport. He might not attend the 2019 instalment of Khawa Sand Dune Challenge which is his brainchild because they are refusing with an aircraft. He said so far they have declined seven (7) requests since the beginning of this year, saying it is disheartening. He said all the matters including a repayment for the India trip, charges laid against his security detail, and refusal to grant him air transport are being dealt by his lawyers Ramalepa Attorneys.
The two men never had a conversation in regard to the recent appalling state of the party. Ever since Khama left office, they only met face to face on two occasions, a move which shows their situation is serious. On several occasions party elders tried to convene in a reconciliation exercise but the talks collapsed because of the clash of egos and trust issues among the two men.
Khama is of the view that Masisi has always misled people telling them that he is looking forward to working with him but behind closed doors he continued to harass him and tried to make his life even more difficult. He said at some point he was more than willing to participate in the negotiations but the perpetuated harassment on him and his office proved that Masisi and his administration are not willing to stop the fight.
“Look right now you put someone like Bridgette Motsepe under Visa restriction because of her alliance to me. What does it say about the country, right now people are not happy in South Africa about that decision because people are blinded by me when they make decisions,” he said. Asked about her relation with Bridgette Motsepe, Khama said she is a longtime friend and only described her as a ‘very close friend’.
He also said he knew Malcom X by association with Motsepe but denied that he played a role in Venson-Moitoi’s campaign. “I only knew him by collateral damage with Bridgette Motsepe. The funny thing is there was no formal communication address to the duo and no reasons were ever advanced as to why they were put under visa restrictions.”
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.