Vice President and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairman, Slumber Tsogwane, will have to fend-off two challengers for Boteti West in the upcoming party primary elections to be held on the 11th of August this year.
Tsogwane recently rose to prominence both within the party and at national level, after replacing President Mokgweetsi Masisi as BDP Chairman as well as the country’s Vice President. His rise has however not frightened his rivals in the party as two democrats have put their names forward. WeekendPost has established from party insiders in the constituency that former Central District commissioner Tlale Setumo who challenged and lost against Tsogwane in the previous primary elections  is going in for a second attempt.
In 2013, Tsogwane, then a backbencher in Lt Gen Ian Khama’s administration won the elections, garnering 1 956 votes compared to Setumo’s 917. Another challenger is little known Emmanuel Kgaboetsile, currently under the employ of Debswana in Orapa. Tsogwane, currently the joint longest serving Member of Parliament, alongside Pelonomi Venson-Moitioi first became MP for the area in 1999. Tsogwane defeated incumbent, the late Gabofele Masusu in the primary elections then under the Committee of 18 model.
He was unchallenged in the 2003 primaries following a delimitation exercise which divided Boteti into two constituencies, resulting in creation of Boteti East and Boteti North; now called Boteti East and Boteti West respectively. Tsogwane came out top against Monkhei Moreki in the 2008 primary elections. His success in party primary elections has been boosted by his recent rise to the top, occupying the most powerful positions in the ruling party and second most important in the country.
The Boteti West constituency has various dynamics that influence elections outcomes in both primary and general elections. Tsogwane hails from Rakops, the biggest village in the constituency in population. Tsogwane enjoys majority of his support from Rakops and surrounding villages, where BDP is strong. Historically, party chairmen have prevailed in internal elections, and Tsogwane would be keen to preserve his two positions and avoid the embarrassment of losing the elections.
Tsogwane was initially scheduled to retire from politics at the end of his term but changed his mind after being coaxed by Masisi to stay and become his deputy. This publication was privy to information since last year, that, Tsogwane was a leading contender to replace Masisi as both party chairman and Vice President. Initially, BDP had intended to replace Tsogwane with Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Bogolo Kenewendo. Kenewendo has since been appointed Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry by Masisi after becoming president in April.
Though Kenewendo is not contesting, she has been active in Boteti West, accompanying Vice President Tsogwane on most official and unofficial visits in a move deliberately aimed at endearing her to the constituents. While the constituency has never been won by the opposition, the Botswana National Front (BNF), now under the auspices of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has made inroads in the constituency over the past decade.
In the 2014 general elections, Tsogwane defeated Sam Digwa of UDC by a margin of less than 300 votes, thanks to the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) vote splitting. Tsogwane got 5790, Sam Digwa 5549 while Tjiliga Letsholo of BCP came a distant third with 622 votes. Kenewendo who was lined up to replace Tsogwane will reportedly get another nod as Specially Elected legislator after the 2019 general elections. Prior to her being elevated to a ministerial role, Kenewendo’s contribution in parliament has also raised suspicion, with most of her questions, if not relating to fiscal policy, related to the Boteti West constituency.
Last year, Kenewendo asked the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama on interventions he had put in place to enable Boteti West communities to benefit from the two parks surrounding them being; CKGR and the Makgadikgadi National Park. Other questions, including regarding the dire water situation in Boteti West have also been posed by the youthful MP.
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.