Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Women’s Wing President, Rhoda Sekgororwane, has declared her interest in stepping up for the Mayoral position of the capital.
Sekgororwane told this publication this Thursday that she “indeed has a big interest for the position as a woman”. She lost out in the run for the mayoral position in 2014 to Kagiso Thutlwe. She again lost out to Kagiso Tshekega when she doubled down to contest for deputy mayor.
Sekgororwane stated that her run is motivated by the continuing decline of women in top political positions. She further noted that she was overwhelmed by the amount of support showered to her by women such as BMD official office holders, including BMDWL Secretary General.
Another councillor who reportedly has declared interest for the throne is a Botswana National Front councillor in Gaborone Phase 4. Sekgororwane who is councillor for Tlogatloga ward however noted that her run looks set to be minus phase 4 councillor, Sargent Kgosiiitsile who broke ranks by declaring interest on Wednesday. Thutlwe’s Mayoral term expires in April and elections for a new mayor are expected to be held in June.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) councillor for Government Ward; Farhaz Mohammad Sobhan is reportedly eyeing the spoils of deputising Sekgororwane. Thutlwe is currently deputised by namesake Kagiso Tshekega who reportedly has abandoned designs for the top position.
It is not the first time that councillors sought to remove Thutlwe from the mayoral position. Exactly 12 months ago councillors sought to remove him from the mayorship through a motion of no-confidence on account that he was underperforming and neglecting his mayoral duties. They further argued that he spent most of his time imbibing on liquor and associating with known Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) functionaries.
However, at the time the no-confidence vote suffered still birth as the council’s standing orders did not have a provision for slapping a no-confidence vote on the mayor. It was reported at the time that councillors for different parties were holding clandestine meetings to discuss the ouster. This time around Thutlwe has told his supporters that as a mayor his hands are tied as he cannot achieve much because his position is largely ceremonial.
He is said to have told his supporters that instead of him it is the Town Clerk who is vested with real powers to effect meaningful change as well as the Minister and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government who are his bosses. He has also told his associates that he is banking on the support of the Secretary Generals of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana National Front (BNF) as well as the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) to put the city councillors in line.
Gaborone City Council members are said to be divided on the issues of deposing Thutlwe with a source describing the state of affairs as “mixed feelings”. Currently both sides are believed to be locked in intense lobbying to garner enough members to pull through the scruff. The City Council has 36 voting members. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has the largest share of 22 councillors while the BDP retains 14 councillors. Both BNF and BMD are currently tied at 11 members each and BCP which is another UDC contracting partner possesses 5 members.
Thutlwe has further told his associates that he is grounding his fortunes on the UDC’s caucus to retain his position. “He has the support of UDC Secretary Generals and there has been talk of continuity in UDC controlled councils,” a source highlighted this week. Responding to enquiries from this publication on Sekgororwane’s incursions, Thutlwe responded with a curt missive: “She is not posing any threat.”
A source at the City council told this publication this week that it is generally believed that the contestations will be extinguished at the UDC caucus to avoid an all-out competition. However, the source stated that the failure by caucus to reach a consensus will throw a lifeline to the BDP in determining who will take the seat. Repeated efforts to solicit comment from Kgosiitsile did not materialise as his mobile rang unanswered.
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.