Ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is working around the clock to undertake “counselling sessions” for its party members who lost the recent primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe.
Preliminary indications suggest that most that were trounced are not taking kindly their defeat and are preparing to launch objections at Tsholetsa house. BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi told WeekendPost in an exclusive interview subsequent to the party press conference this week that they will provide counselling to all the losers.
“We know the losers are in pain. So we are going to take everything into consideration and even offer them counselling losers. We have a process beyond just the Central Committee, from now on if we realize that somebody needs Counselling. There is nothing as bruising as Central committee elections,” Balopi highlighted.
The ruling party SG explained notwithstanding that there was not even a single person who did not make it at the hot heated Tonota Congress who lost the Central committee positions who left the party. “But that’s the most painful of them all because it’s national,” he added to illustrate his point.
“So we strongly believe that the peace that we have been preaching is prevailing, right from the Central Committee,” Balopi emphasised to this publication. For the first time at the party, there are eight Members of Parliament (MP’s) candidates who are unopposed, and that he said, shows that there are is headway being made with regards to attaining tranquillity within the party. “So we will continue and we will not try to be ruthless or harsh regardless of the triviality or the magnitude of the complaints. We will just give it the same level of importance.”
According to Balopi, the just ended 2018 Bulela Ditswe elections were the best they have ever conducted as a party. However the BDP SG pointed out that although so far they have not received any official protest, they continue to hear some people who are rejecting the results. He added: “the Electoral Board is the one that receives the protests, and after receiving the protests they evaluate them and forward to the Central Committee if they have not been able to solve them.”
In a calculated move, Balopi then took a swipe at the losers: “you should ask those people who are making noise that if they won what would they have said. You see they are making noise because they have lost.” He highlighted that “if the proper process was followed, there is absolutely nothing that we can do. You see there are bad losers and good losers. And in between there are those who are objective”.
“If I can tell you, these elections are in no way near any previous ones in terms of problems. The way we have locked in, and being able to isolate the real problems. And it’s very important to understand this.” In unpacking the issue, Balopi said some of the objections are trivial and unreasonable. “Imagine if someone says when the elections results were announced he was not in the school hall where the elections were held to witness them. I mean really? Think about it. Is that a protest? Whose responsibility is it?”
He said however their processes allow that such contestants have representatives sitting there to observe the elections whether they are free and fair throughout. The BDP spokesperson observed that everyone has the right to sit and observe the vote counting before announcing of results takes place and they can as well ask for a recount when dissatisfied. “So how do you just not necessarily agree because you were not there? You need to be accountable for your actions as well,” he pointed out.
On whether the protests will not in a way further divide and polarize the party resulting in the BDP losing the constituencies again, Balopi said: “it will depend on how we handle the protests. As SG I can attest to you that there will be fairness. Whether there is proof that there were some irregularities, they will be attended to in a very objective manner.”
Balopi stated that “if something comes in that does not hold water then it will be demonstrated to that particular person in a manner that is cordial. We will not ridicule you just because you did not follow procedure to complain. This is so because we understand that at the end we want to make sure that the party becomes the winner not the individual. We will adjudicate on case by case and how we do that will also depend on case by case.”
According to Article 13 of the BDP Code of Conduct for candidates in Primary Elections which is on page 51 of the BDP Constitution “the unsuccessful candidates shall consistently demonstrate commitment, loyalty and support to the Party and its candidate, furthermore ensure that their supporters equally demonstrate loyalty and support to the party and its candidate.”
A BDP member in good standing, Shima Monageng who lost to Kabo Morwaeng by 1844 to 2693 votes told WeekendPost this week when contacted that he will offer an official objection at the Tsholetsa house before the seven days ultimatum elapses.
“I have sought advice for course of action following the glaring irregularities at Bulela Ditswe and, I will protest accordingly. I will appeal for an investigation to be done if indeed there were irregularities and if that’s the position of the party then a re-run be considered to avoid disenfranchising democracy,” he highlighted.
Monageng, who was reluctant to speak to this publication to avoid jeopardizing his appeal, stressed that all over the world elections must not be taken for granted because they represent the will of the people. He warned that if such happens, the people (or voters) will react in such a manner that may affect the party and in this case the BDP may be affected adversely.
According to Monageng, the branch Secretary was not impartial and they caught some party members’ red handed distributing membership cards during the election and they did not deny it. He added that some voters were turned down as they did not appear on the voters roll. “Action must be taken appropriately. I cannot bottle my disappointment as I am not fighting my party. This is not the first time as it happened in 2013.”
Meanwhile Monageng also took to social media (Facebook) stating his discontentment: “having stood for BDP primary elections four times in succession at Molepolole South is not a joke! In my posts I am straining myself and simply providing facts as briefly as I can. People should know that we as democrats and members of BDP are not under any bondage. This is democracy. We are members of this great party at our own will, and not forcefully.”
He added, in a move seen to be directed to his rival Morwaeng that “we who are within and have stayed loyal to the party for this long, our voices must be heard and given due consideration. As a liberal person and politician, I do accept positive criticism and variance of views, provided all is done with humility.”
Apart from Monageng, information reaching WeekendPost suggests that in Francistown South, Khumongwana Maoto and Lamodimo Dikomang who were both trounced by Modiri JoJo Lucas are also discontented by the results. Lucas triumphed with 906 votes against Maoto’s 496 as well as Dikomang who only got 306.
In Gantsi North, the same protests are also said to be underway after Greg Losibe was narrowly defeated by John Thiite with 1566 to 1582. When contacted for comment at press time, Losibe said he was in a meeting and could not comment. Another objection expected is from Pelonomi Bantsi who was defeated by Christian Nthuba by 629 to 865 in Gaborone Bonnington South. Bantsi however stated to this publication that he is restrained to offer any comment as he was still consulting on the matter.
In other elections, although not clear at this stage whether they will officially launch objections; Oarabile Ragoeng lost at Molepolole North by 1852 against Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri’s 1869 while Botsalo M Rabogadi trailed behind with 477 votes.
In Jwaneng-Mabutsane, both Dibeela Shobashoba and Amos Johanne were whitewashed by Mephato Reatile. Shobashoba garnered 702 while â€¨Johanne got 666 against Mephato Reatile’s whooping 2206. â€¨â€¨Batlhalefi Leagajang who has since publicly accepted the results was hammered by Mmusi Kgafela by 575 to 1759 votes in Mochudi West. Mogoditshane will be represented by Tshephang Mabaila. Mabaila won with 1227 votes against Patrick Masimolole’s 350, Mogogi Tshiamo’s 390, Kgang Kgang’s 342 and Otisitswe Baolwetse at 80.
In Gabane-Mankgodi, Philip Mokento, Pius Ntwayagae, Joseph Makati, lost to Kagiso Mmusi by 305, 227, and 847 against 2386 votes. In Ramotswa, Lentswe Monare lost by 1102 votes to Lefoko Moagi’s 2275. A political Analyst at the University of Botswana, Leornard Sesa said in view of the objections by BDP members that the party should introspect and consider reviewing Bulela Ditswe and halting it altogether if need be. “They need to introspect. In 2013 there were also a lot of complaints. The number of independent candidates was high.”
According to Sesa, this shows that Bulela Ditswe problems are far from over.
He stated that BDP members should not conduct these elections as there is unfairness and favouritism. “They should look for independent organizations or people to conduct the primary elections and not the party members who have proved to sway elections in favour of their friends and close associates at the expense of other contesters.”
This system of Bulela Ditswe, the political analyst said, leads to some disgruntled members often giving up when their appeal is not considered, ultimately leaving the party to join the opposition. “That is why the BDP popular vote has been dwindling; it sterms from the primary Elections,” he concluded.
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.