He was never a man short of ambition. But Tati East legislator, Samson Guma Moyo finds himself between a rock and a hard place as his business and political empire is potentially crumbling at his feet and he has very little left in him to save his grace.
Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) could be exactly what the doctor ordered – as per the script of those worried by his rising political and business star. Guma was galvanising himself for presidency and many in his party had noticed or heard at this stage. At this stage Guma has roped in Dick Bayford to reverse the Hero to Zero cursive and only time will tell.
Some presidential campaigns fizzle with a whimper — and some go out with a cringe-inducing bang. The shapeup to the 2019 political season will have its share of bottle-rocket candidates like Mokgweetsi Masisi, Duma Boko, Dumelang Saleshando and others, who shot to the top of politics with fiery confidence but could explode amid colourful comments and personal controversies.
Guma wanted to be party to the mill will as the political story of Botswana unravels in the next five years. But as things stand, his story is over. The question remains if he will resurrect his fortunes?
This publication has established from various sources that Guma harboured the idea that he could soon run for the office of President. So determined was the flamboyant legislator that he was ready to table a private member’s bill calling for direct election of the president of the republic of Botswana. At the peak of his political life within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Guma was elected the party chairman in Maun amid contestations that money was the leverage that saw the slippery legislator cross the bridge.
Sources who spoke to Weekend Post demonstrated that at this stage Guma saw himself as a maverick and was potent with an eminent appointment to the highest office in the land. He was more than ready to position himself among the elites of the ruling party to ensure that his presidential bid gain traction.
Of course he understood the dynamics and politics of the BDP very well to the extent that his chase for a seat at Orapa House would face obstacles of imminent proportions. He was slowly but surely waxing lyrical the party to allow him to table a private member’s bill on direct election of the president and he was almost on a home run – until BURS and DCEC together with the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) stopped him on his tracks.
In 2013 Guma had told this publication that he was still engaging the party on the subject of direct election of the president. He has said he did not want to rash the matter as he was duty bound to get the buy in of the party leadership and its members. “Little did we know that this was to the most extent to serve his appetite for the presidential office,” said one of Guma’s confidantes.
They had only assumed that Guma was reacting to a fertile political landscape whereupon the opposition was calling for direct election of the president and the civil society and academia were fattening up the debate.
2014 was hardly the first political season to witness the sudden collapse of a can't-lose personality – 2015 has definitely come hard on him, relegating him to shadows and alienating him from the very same people he wanted to cling onto for protection and gloss of his political career.
Guma severed ties with Thapelo Olopeng, his long-time business partner. Olopeng was probably the anchor in the business. Guma’s latest predicament with the tax collecting agency leaves him in the cold because it has alienated him from President Lt Khama, who surely is in the know of what Guma did wrong or right. The Tati East legislator has also publicly attacked Minister of Environment Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama.
Tshekedi is also seen as a potential Vice President and ultimately president of the future as long the BDP is still in power. Guma had even told his constituents who had congregated in Francistown at Marang hotel last month that some people did not want him in politics. He further told them that he was preparing to quit politics.
Guma is not new to political turbulence, at one stage he had to leave cabinet because of alleged investigations by the DCEC. But the matter died a natural death and he was back in Khama’s arms was more or less endorsed for chairmanship of the party against former Education minister, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi. In the last central committee election of the ruling party, Guma had strategically chosen not to run for any position given his sudden resignation from chairmanship last year after some senior party officials accused him of aiding their demise at the party primaries. Instead he inked his name all over Vice President Mokweetsi Masisi’s campaign; it was also supposed to be a strategic move calculated to give no indication of his (Guma) long term plans.
Permutations are such that Guma was eyeing the after President Khama era which seems to have attracted onlookers. It is understood that he fancied his chances against anyone who could succeed Khama under the current automatic succession and put his money on the direct election of president law – because under such a dispensation anyone can put their hand up and be slotted onto the ballot paper.
Khama’s term comes to an end in the first quarter of 2018, and a few prominent ruling party members want to succeed him, but the best bet for now is Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi who should benefit from the automatic succession dispensation – but this will only last as long as the status quo.
The Tati East legislator is seen as being too cosy with Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF and President Robert Mugabe. He also has mining businesses in that country. Guma has even had adhoc meetings with Mugabe in the past.
For now Guma remains in the eye of the storm – and many are waiting to see if he will call it a day in politics as he has promised; what will be the end result of his current run-in with the BURS and the DCEC; and whether he will re-locate to Zimbabwe where he has other business interests?
The BURS wants him to pay over P35 million in unpaid taxes, and the DCEC on the other hand wants to charge him with living beyond his means. His accounts are currently frozen and he wants the action reversed, he fingers Office of the President in his current troubles.
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.