In court papers making his case before the Lobatse High Court against Business Weekly and Review publication, prominent lawyer Parks Tafa muses and gloats in the same breadth about his part in the success story of Collins Newman and Company (CNC) legal firm.
Tafa who qualified as a practicing attorney in 1991 and became Managing partner at Collins Newman and Company in 2004 says that, “I am consistently rated by major legal surveys and publications (such as Chambers Global, PLC Which Lawyer? and IFLR 1000) as a ‘band 1’ leader in my field of practice, which is largely corporate and transactional in nature.”
He also says that Senior Partner at CNC Rizwan Desai who has been his partner since 2000 is also consistently rated as a ‘band one’ leader by major legal surveys and publications and is regarded as one of the leading corporate and transactional lawyers in Botswana and enjoys recognition amongst his peers and clients alike.
The Harvard School of Law educated Desai is former Chairman of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) and is presently Chairman of the board of directors of Barclays Bank of Botswana Limited while Tafa is Chairman of the University of Botswana Council, Stanbic Bank Limited and Wilderness Safari’s, respectively.
Tafa continues: “I have also acted as an advisor to past three Presidents of Botswana in various regulatory matters and I am frequently consulted by various spheres of government.”
He also says that Collins Newman and Company which has been operating as a law firm in 1997 is an established leader in the field of commercial advice and litigation and is the largest firm in Botswana. He also asserts its excellence by saying that, “presently it is a member of a prestigious Africa Legal Network (ALN) group of leading law firms across the continent.”
Tafa also in his evidence continues to say that, CNC counts among its blue chip clientele domestic and international firms such as Anglo American, Standard Chartered Bank, First National Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, GE Capital, Hana Mining Limited Sasol Petroleum, Cathay Fortune Investments, JP Morgan and Deutshe Bank among others.
He says that in the country CNC also acts as an advisor to many government and statutory institutions such as Bank of Botswana, Botswana Power Corporation, Debswana, BCL Limited, Botswana Meat Commission, Botswana Oil, Botswana Ash, Botswana Public Officers Medical Aid Scheme, University of Botswana and Botswana Telecommunications Corporation among others.
He also adds that his firm has throughout always sought to employ only the best available legal talent in the country, before citing the paper he is suing when it described CNC as “…one of the country’s most prominent legal law firms” and as a “go-to legal firm for the corporate sector and the political leadership.”
CNC is representing Bank of Botswana in an on-going case which was bungled by a CNC attorney, one Bokani Machinya after she was found to have forged court papers. Bank of Botswana is being sued by EBC Guernsey Limited in respect to losses it is said to have incurred as a result of the collapse of Kingdom Bank Africa Limited.
Tafa also adds: “the preservation of CNC’s reputation is dear and important to me. Naturally the preservation of my own reputation and that of Desai is equally important.” he continues, “We care about what members of the public think about CNC not because this is necessary for the purposes of our professional dealings, but also because it has always been a source of pride for Desai and myself as individuals,” he says.
He further said that he is the longest serving professional in CNC and thus he considers himself the primary guardian of its well ‘established reputation’ and never before has CNC hauled one of its attorney before Law Society of Botswana (LSB) except concerning the forgery incident with Machinya.
If monetary figures on his resume are anything to go by, calculations would indicate that Tafa has presided over purchases and procurements, transferrals of movable and immovable assets, syndicated financing, negotiating of maintenance and operation agreements, presiding over acquisition of assets and buildings, real estate developments, secondary listings and recapitalisations among others cumulatively worth $ 7, 9 billion or P 79, 23 billion.
Calculations would also indicate on Desai’s resume that he has also presided over a wide spectrum of corporate and commercial transactions ranging from Initial Public Offerings, demutualisation, acquisitions and re-acquisitions, restructuring activities, inward listings and cash injections among others, valued at $4.25 billion or P45.49 billion.
The case in which Tafa wants to interdict the publication awaits ruling.
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.