Former President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama said even though he has supported the current arrangement of automatic succession of the state presidency, the time has now come to review and amend it.
The former President said the issue is not new to him, it was first brought to his attention by some members of the opposition party and later by his party Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) back in 2008 when he assumed the presidency. General Khama said even though he does not support direct election of the president he is of the view that a democratic arrangement has to be made when a president’s term comes to an end so that the party can be able to elect the country’s next president.
He says the current system of automatic succession can be applicable when one dies in office or resigns and other circumstances. “This is not my idea but opinions raised by democrats during my stay in power. I have always thought it’s a good idea and I personally support it,” he said. Khama is of the view that automatic succession is good for smooth transition of power. However,he said certain provisions under clause should be re-examined precisely with reference to when the sitting President’s term comes to end.
“We all know why the provision was introduced but we are still stuck there today,” he said. Some democrats believe the automatic succession was engineered by Masire to safe guard Festus Mogae’s interests at a time when Ponatshego Kedikilwe was perceived to be the party’s natural heir to the throne. The former president says even though the issue of direct election of the president looks eminent at the moment, his fear is, it has its own repercussions. “In this set-up, a president can win elections while his own cabinet comes from the opposition and to me that will delay progress. However that comes with a very cognizable arrangement where Ministers can be nominated from outside parliament which is good move,” he said.
ON HIS KGOTLA MEETINGS AND CHARITY WORK
On the issue of addressing Kgotla meetings around the country, Khama said, “to say I should stop is impossible.” He said this is his outreach program where he continues his charitable cause. “I made a pledge not to abandon Batswana when I bid them farewell and that’s exactly what I am doing. I cannot pull a Putin strategy and come back to power,” said khama. Khama said currently he is not involved in the running of the government and allegations that he is a stumbling block in President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration are hearsay spread by some of Masisi’s supporters.
He said actually it is Masisi and his Permanent Secretary Carter Morupisi who continue to make life difficult for him. “They continue to take staff from me, refuse with air transport and continue to pen down more press releases on my name. Khama who was in Moshupa on Thursday to donate a house and donate P20 000 towards the development of Kgotla shelter suffered another sabotage when public officers were instructed not to attend the meeting and the beneficiary of the house was nowhere to be found.
He said he is a true democrat and believe in exercising his democratic rights. “I will never tell Bangwato not to welcome Masisi in their Kgotla, as much as they welcome him I am fine with it. To tell people to do that will be a Mugabe style,” he said. Addressing remarks made by former President Festus Mogae against him, Khama said Mogae is entitled to his own opinion. Mogae is quoted in The Voice newspaper saying Khama has failed to unite the party and he regrets bringing him to BDP.
Khama said as much as he know, he has achieved whatever he was brought to do at the BDP but since his departure the party is now in disarray and continue to sink in factions at the helm of the current leader. “The reason why I pronounced my support for Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi is not to divide the party, but I believe she is capable of bringing stability and dissolve the factions,” 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.