Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi is being accused of bringing the Mogoditshane constituency to its knees, with the constituency now without a parliamentary candidate.
The woes of the BDP Mogoditshane continued after its parliamentary candidate Tshepang Mabaila who had won the primary elections was suspended from the party for five years a few weeks ago.The decision which is alleged to have been prompted by Balopi has since divided the party into two. An investigation by WeekendPost shows that Balopi has connived with Mogoditshane branch Chairperson Percy Tshuba in trafficking about 400 constituents to Balopi’s constituency in Gaborone North.
In what appears to be a football scam, one of the residents told this publication that they were invited to partake in a football tournament organized by Balopi in Ledumang Ward but they were told to bring their identity cards (Omang). They were later told that they were being registered to vote and given P200 each. The said Percy Tshuba is currently driving one of the 10 cars that were donated by Mpho Balopi to be used in the campaigns at his constituency.
With BDP still yet to announce their preferred candidate for the constituency, rumors are rife that both Balopi and Tshuba are pushing for Chillyboy Rakgare and they have been spotted many times introducing him during house to house campaigns. Last week about 19 members of the Mogoditshane constituency received letters of misconduct which also point to possible suspension from the party. The letters were authored by Mogoditshane Branch Secretary, Ikanyeng Tshiamo and copied Secretary Ward Committee.
In the letter referenced: misconduct- yourself Tshiamo wrote that, “After the verdict passed on the former BDP parliamentary candidate, you behaved in a manner that is in contrary to the BDP code of conduct. The branch committee convened and a resolution was taken that you be disciplined and the matter is thus referred to the disciplinary committee for disciplinary proceedings against yourself.
It was also resolved that, while awaiting the disciplinary committee, the accused will not be allowed to participate in any party activities including but not limited to the following; the current ongoing mass registration drive, Attendance of party structures ranging from the branch committee meetings to the cell committee meetings, both Youth Wing and Woman’s Wing structures activities, Campaigning for and attending any meetings with any party candidate
Article 14.1 of the BDP constitution state that all members of the party are subject to its Disciplinary Rules, Regulations, Code of Conduct, penalties made pursuant to the party constitution and other written instructions and directives as may be issued by the Central Committee from time to time. When contacted for comment Mogoditshane Branch Chairperson, Percy Tshuba refused to talk to this publication citing that Balopi is the right person to talk to.
Before hanging his phone Tshuba said he is not aware of any suspended members of the party and could not divulge any information. “Any information regarding suspensions should be routed to the highest office”, he said. Balopi is also alleged to be positioning the Mogoditshane constituency to nominate him at the elective congress for the position of Secretary General where he is likely to be challenged by Samson Moyo Guma.
Contacted for comment Balopi said the matter of misconduct is still at branch level and has not reached his office yet as per the procedure. “They have the authority to discipline members at branch level and even take them to regional level but the power to suspend lies with only one person being the President of the party,” he said. On allegations that he trafficked constituents to his constituency Balopi said everyone has the right to register wherever they want thus he can’t make decisions for anyone. He further denied working with one Percy Tshuba in shoddy deals that has brought the downfall of Mogoditshane and endorsing Chillyboy Rakgare.
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.