In his continued effort to stamp his authority President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has taken aim at Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe, a very close ally of former President Lt Gen Ian Khama in his declaration of applying the law to the letter.
The Director of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Brigadier Peter Magosi wrote through the National Assembly Clerk withdrawing some members of the DIS who were deployed as guards to the Speaker with immediate effect. While it is not provided for in the Green Book, former President Khama had decided to deploy agents to man the Speaker of the National Assembly’s security after an unfortunate event in 2016 when some Members of Parliament were found to be in possession of weapons during a parliament session. The former President was of the view that the safety of the Speaker was compromised.
He then recommended and deployed six members of the DIS to safeguard the Speaker and also double as chauffeurs. The six worked on shifts but they would add numbers when there is a function.Meanwhile it is alleged a recent visit by Khama to Gladys Kokorwe who is on sick leave at her Tapologo Farms near Ramaphatle has invited the fury of President Dr Masisi. Khama and Kokorwe are said to have enjoyed good relations during Kokorwe’s era in politics and later appointed her Speaker of the National Assembly.
It alleged that during his visit to Kokorwe’s farm former President Khama proposed to Kokorwe to take up the Chairmanship of the National Housing Appeal a position Kokorwe did not refuse but later declined looking at the recent feud between Masisi and Khama that was reported in the newspapers.It is alleged that President Masisi later knew about the meeting and did not take it kindly.Sources close to the president said Masisi was very furious about the developments and directed that DIS agents deployed at Kokorwe be withdrawn with immediate effect.
“A letter withdrawing the said staff was read to Kokorwe on her sick bed by the clerk and the following day she was left with only one staff member who is still waiting for Kokorwe’s driver to report for duty on Monday before leaving.Kokorwe who refused to comment on the matter owing to her ill health told WeekendPost that she is still the Speaker of the national Assembly and will soon resume duty after her sick leave.When further pressed about Khama’s proposal Kokorwe said at the moment she is still busy but will be free to do whatever she likes after stepping down next year October and to attend to whatever political party she likes.
“As much as I know, we have never had differences with Masisi, he is my President and Khama is my friend”, she said. Kokorwe is also passionate about humanitarian work and helping vulnerable people within the society, a work Khama is doing.Kokorwe has held the position of Deputy Speaker, assisting Patrick Balopi before being appointed Botswana’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe.When she was appointed in 2014 Gladys Kokorwe made it very clear that she will only serve one term.
Having been active in politics for 25 years, Kokorwe had to remain neutral after being appointed Speaker.Standing Order no. 5.1b states that the role of a speaker shall be to preside with complete impartiality over parliamentary debates. He/ She shall protect the freedom of speech and debate in the national assembly and its committees.
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.