The opposition cooperation talks had started and progressed at the speed of light, but all this could come to a halt as the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) refuses to cede the Vice Presidency to the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), who are currently in talks with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) with the aim of defeating the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) as a single unit in 2019.
According to impeccable sources and reliable literature, the two parties, the BCP and the UDC, have agreed to contest the 2019 general election under the name UDC+ (UDC Plus). The constitution of the organisation has also been drafted with a litany of changes to the original UDC constitution which was ‘too cumbersome’ with a model of a body corporate rather a political party. This publication learns that only a few items of the constitution have been referred to the main negotiating team for finalisation after the lower group agreed to disagree.
However despite the gains made at the level 1 of the negotiations, things took a turn for the darkness recently when the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) failed to pitch for a meeting that was scheduled to take place in Francistown. The meeting was taken to Francistown to accommodate the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) who had been making all trips to Gaborone.
The Francistown meeting proceeded without the BMD albeit after consulting them. It was at this meeting that it was discovered that the BPP representatives at this stream of the talks were actually a son and his father in law – but it was not an issue because they had the mandate from the party.
It was after the Francistown meeting that the BMD’s position on the issue of the Vice Presidency came out clear. Insiders in the talks say they are disturbed at the turn that the unity talks are taking because a single position should not derail a whole process that has a potential to change the country for the better.
The BMD’s attitude to the BCP does not start with the issue of the Vice Presidency, it has during the course of the negotiations had difficulty with the number of negotiating partners allocated to the BCP. When the talks were given the go ahead at Oasis Motel in Tlokweng, the understanding was that the streams will be constituted of the BCP and UDC representatives.
“This was deliberate and it was always known that there constituent members within the UDC, each of whom shall bring a representative to the table,” said a concerned Botswana National Front (BNF) veteran. The BPP and the BNF agree with the BCP that the talks are between the BCP and the UDC, but the BMD representatives are finding it difficult to accept that the BCP is contributing almost half of the negotiating partners to the table.
“The BMD is insisting on this thing that there are four parties at the negotiating table.” It is understood that the BMD fears that if the notion that there are only two parties at the negotiation table continues, the BCP could be entitled to half share of the positions within the UDC+ with other members of the conglomerate sharing the remaining positions.
Although it was explained that the half share applies only to the position of Vice Presidency, the BMD has not flexed on its position. Insiders say the UDC agreed with the BCP on the Vice Presidency because the latter had easily ceded the Presidency to the former. The idea of two Vice Presidents at the National level was then suggested by the UDC in appreciation of the sentiments shared by the BMD that it was not willing to give the BCP the Vice Presidency.
The matter could not be concluded then because the BMD was not present at the meeting, forcing the matter to be referred to the next level of the streams. The Level 2 stream met this Monday and there was no progress and insiders say there is a chance that things could stall for a while.
There were questions from the BMD side on the issue of constituency allocation and the matter of the half share, but the BCP was since given 17 constituencies, which is not half. However Weekend Post has learnt that at level 2 of the talks the BMD is also questioning the 17 constituencies awarded to the BCP.
The criterion was based on incumbency and second best in the last general election. “It is very likely that everything will be undone at level 2 of the negotiation streams even before it reaches the level of Presidency,” said a source. The Presidency had initially comprised of UDC president, Duma Boko and BCP president, Dumelang Saleshando, but the BMD came out in strong opposition again, demanding that there be four Presidents at that level. There are now four Presidents at that level – these include BMD and BPP presidents.
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.