The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama has complained that his Ministry is one of those which get the lowest budget every year despite being responsible for critical tasks, he remarked that part of the money given to the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) be diverted to his Ministry.
The Minister said priorities must be set right and deal with issues that affect the people first. Tshekedi’s request comes on the backdrop of DIS requesting an extra P15 million funds to pay suppliers; this is in addition to its P300 million budget for the 2016/2017 financial year. The P15 million will cover costs incurred during the BOT50 celebrations last year. Attempts by the opposition to block the supplementary request were blocked by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs.
“However, I must hasten to note with concern that, though responsible for such critical tasks, my ministry is one of those which get the lowest budget every year. I therefore urge this Honourable House to ensure that the importance of tourism sector is commensurate with the budget allocated to the Ministry for us to compete with the region and deliver as the future engine of growth in our economy,” he said when presenting his Ministry Budget this week.
Khama indicated that Botswana’s efforts towards economic diversification are dependent on the tourism sector which is the second engine of growth. He pointed out that his ministry puts a lot of effort towards developing and marketing new tourism products and ensuring that Botswana is an attractive destination.
“Further, for wildlife conservation, my ministry is responsible for improving the status of species, populations or ecosystem integrity to prevent extinction. The conservation activities are undertaken both within our boundaries and Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs).” According to the Minister the Ministry has established a data centre in collaboration with Statistics Botswana in order to address the problem of backlog on migration statistics. He said the analysis of 2010-2015 migration statistics is complete with preliminary results ready for use. The 2016 statistics are still being processed.
“However, my Ministry continues to face challenges in relation to funding for tourism statistics. Tourism statistics data collection requires a substantial budget given the large physical scale of the country; the large number of border posts; and the large number of business enterprises involved with tourists.”On citizen participation in the tourism industry, Khama said the Government continues to encourage Batswana to participate in the tourism industry by introducing tourism products that they can partake in.
To emphasise his Ministry’s continued under budgeting, Khama said it has been quite evident that, given the limited resources, compensation for property damaged by wildlife is not sustainable in the long run. He shared a budget allocation for compensation since 2014 which showed that in 2014/2015, P9 million was allocated for 5647 cases but the money needed for compensation was P16 million; In 2015/2016, P8.8 million was allocated for 5500 cases but P16 million was needed again; and in 2016/2017 financial year P4.4 million has been allocated for 5500 cases that need P14 million to compensate people. Khama’s ministry compensates farmers whose crops has been damaged by wild animals. "I think we should be very honest as a nation in terms of our priorities", Tshekedi Khama just told Parliament.
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.