Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Chairman, Nehemiah Modubule has revealed that his faction has resolved to engage Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader Duma Boko and different social groups in an attempt to break the paralysis consuming his party.
Modubule said that they have resolved to seek audience with Boko, UDC Chairman Motlatsi Molapisi, the clergy, labour unions, and, University of Botswana Democracy Research Project, as well as the 2011 conveners of opposition cooperation talks, Lebang Mpotokwane among others, in a bid to save the party from itself and break the ensuing factional standoff.
Modubule said that the purpose is to brief the organisations and UDC coalition leaders about BMD’s National Executive Committee (NEC) paralysis and conflict to avert the mooted party Special Congress, which he says, will only intensify the complications bedeviling his party.
Remarkably, the former Lobatse Member of Parliament revealed that, so far, no one, even the conveners of opposition talks, has come forward in an attempt to deescalate the rising tension and mediate reconciliation between the two brawling faction’s despite their skirmishes threatening to boil over into the UDC coalition.
Modubule said: “We have taken this step because we believe that these issues can be addressed by engaging one another. We don’t see why we cannot talk about these issues because anything called a Special Congress will only worsen these issues.”
He further said that calling a Special Congress to resolve BMD crisis is not a solution, as it risks haemorraging the country’s youngest political party from inside, before it grows.
Modubule described the mooted Special Congress to be an exercise of caressing egos at the detriment of the party as it will pit supporters of the two factions against each other.
However, the rivalling faction marshalled by party President Ndaba Gaolathe and his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi, believe that the Special Congress is a right antidote for the paralysis engulfing the party.
Mmolotsi told this publication that unlike the 2011 opposition parties’ convention that resulted in cobbling together opposition parties into UDC, the current situation in the BMD is an intra-party matter that has to be remedied by Congress because party leaders are accountable to party members.
He further said that it would be unfair to think that Congress, which gave the current NEC a mandate to steward the party, is only needed when voting and cannot solve the problems of the same NEC they voted into power.
He said that as per the party constitution the Special Congress is a consultative meeting and not a platform where some party members are going to be purged.
“That is a consultative gathering; and not convention where some people are going to be purged as some comrades seem to think,” said Mmolotsi.
He also said that all the regions that his faction has so far visited have acceded to convening the Special Congress, and they include Southern region, Kweneng, Gaborone, Serowe, Maun and Francistown regions.
Perhaps as a sign that the factionalism gripping the party will not abate anytime soon, Mmolotsi said that they will continue with the regional consultations. The yearlong BMD troubles started with the membership reapplication of former presidential aspirant, Sydney Pilane back into the BMD.
Pilane’s detractors raise his lawyer-client ties with Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) boss Isaac Kgosi, a man deeply unpopular in opposition party quarters, as a reason for their distrust. In that regard, some in the rivalling faction have labeled Pilane a State sponsored agent provocateur.
Further, they view his reentrance into the party with cynicism because a few months before his reapplication, Pilane had strongly contested allegations that he harbored intentions to come back into the party, denying intentions to challenge Gaolathe for BMD presidency and ultimately UDC leader Duma Boko, for the leadership of the coalition.
They further see him as a man who abandoned the party in 2012 amid a mass exodus of leadership defectors back to the ruling BDP, long before it attained success inside the UDC fold and now wants in when things are looking up.
Pilane left BMD after losing to the late Gomolemo Motswaledi for BMD presidency, allegedly to further his legal career by positioning himself for the position of a High Court Judge.
However, when he left, he said to have gifted the party a sum of P5000 and instructed party leadership to always come to him when in need of financial assistance, albeit through discreet channels. Pilane is also said to be paying salaries of two party office employees, its rentals and utilities.
Despite, signaling conciliatory overtures, the Modubule-Mangole axis will also continue with regional tours, with a stop at Tobane this weekend.
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.