The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng is keeping good to his promise of producing at least five millionaires by the end of his tenure as minister. He recently launched the ‘Millionaires’ Club’ in Gaborone.
This week the Minister confirmed that he recently launched the Club and the target still stands at 5 millionaires to be produced during his tenure as the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development. “I have officially launched the club and it consists of 15 members from different sectors. I am currently overwhelmed with hundreds of requests from other young people who want to be part of this club; unfortunately I can only mentor a few. These young people are, upon hitting the target, expected to mentor other young people to rise to their ranks,” said Olopeng.
Some names that appear in Minister Olopeng’s list include those from the arts, film, agriculture, information and technology, engineering and other sectors. Johnson Otlaadisa, a television production and arts enthusiast; Molefhi Nkwete, a clothing and label apparel businessman; Thabang Palai, who is into property development; Malebogo Marumoagae, a former beauty queen, now business lady is also in the mix; and so is Gadzanani Makopola, another businessman, are some of the young people the Minister is mentoring to become millionaires by value.
Explaining the objective of this club, Minister Olopeng said among other reasons, he intends to provide members of the Club with business and professional mentorship. Furthermore he intends to bring renowned local and foreign entrepreneurs to educate these young people and change their mindset to become successful entrepreneurs.
“They will be taught to see challenges as opportunities for them to succeed. For example, most Silicon Valley entrepreneurs started from their garages and our young people need to know how they can navigate around obstacles to run successful enterprises. They shouldn’t see physical space and lack of capital to operate their businesses as an obstacle,” opined Olopeng. The Minister said he is very passionate about the Millionaires Club because it has the potential to be a spring board for a number of great things such as employment creation, “which obviously pushes the economy in the right direction.”
In Parliament recently, Minister Olopeng observed that the majority of the Botswana population consists of young people and therefore if the government does not invest in them, it runs the risk of having an elderly population that is unable to support itself owing to missed opportunities. Olopeng said it is imperative that all efforts are made to tap into the energy and creativity of the young people and to further develop them into model citizens to enhance their competitiveness globally.
Still on the Millionaires Club, Olopeng said in addition to mentorship, he also wants members of the Club to have access to a network of local and foreign entrepreneurs, in order for them to expand their current network. “I believe that business can only grow to a great success if the network is right and if the entrepreneur has access to a successful mentor. Among other things, the club will provide members with investment opportunities, which will see them growing their portfolios. I believe that through sound investments, our young people will enlarge their portfolios and grow into millionaires and billionaires,” he said.
Olopeng explained his version of millionaires; he said he believes that millionaires are not determined by the amount of cash in their bank accounts or how much they can spend in shops and restaurants. He subscribes to the view point that Millionaires are determined by the value of their assets. “That’s why we are talking about investment portfolios and opportunities. I want members of this club to be financially disciplined and above all, to preserve their integrity.”
The Minister is worried by a nagging trend among young people, “One of the challenges facing young people is that after winning a P1 million, they rush to become flamboyant, and want to be seen driving expensive cars and living large. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, but I want to teach members of my club to know what to do with their money,” said Olopeng.
His Ministry already has programmes meant to empower young people, but over the years the Ministry has observed high defaulter rate with the Young Development Fund and other similar initiatives. In some instances young people are given money to start worthy causes only for them to diver the money to flashy lifestyles – which has always proved to be a temporary thing. With the Millionaires Club, Olopeng said he is determined to provide dedicated mentoring that will instill both business and social ethos to the group of 15 and ultimately raise the targeted five millionaires.
Olopeng vows to increase mentees
According to the Minister, in the near future, he wants to increase the number of the Millionaires Club members to 30 in order to provide this opportunity to others who will also be assisted up the ladder. He said the current ratio of members is more men than women – this increase should see more women coming into the club.
“Members of this club are very excited to be part of it, and they are looking forward to providing solutions to their challenges. They have expressed readiness to rise to occasion. As I said earlier, members are taught to look at challenges as opportunities, and not to see them as stumbling blocks,” he said.
Olopeng said he is very excited to work with this group of young people. He is of the view that they have positive characters, amazing energy and the right attitude to succeed and grow. He said he also determined to help them grow beyond their actual potential.
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.