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Land Board overrules presidential pardon

Tsolamosese residents calls for dissolution of the Landboards

Kweneng Land Board and Mogoditshane sub Land Board are acting in concert to override a decision by President Lt. Gen Ian Khama through the presidential pardon of 2008 which absolved the squatters of Gaborone and surrounding areas, in particular Tsolamosese, Mogoditshane and Nkoyaphiri from demolition of their presumed unlawful residence.  

Weekend Post has established that since the presidential pardon, many of the residents were not compensated for the land which was repossessed by the Land boards. According to the presidential pardon, Khama recommended that some residents should pay the Land board P5 000 and others P10 000, depending on their individual cases, in order to comply with the absolution.

The pardon is consistent with the Tribal Land Act, section 39, which states that: “any person who acquires or takes occupation of any tribal land without an appropriate lease or certificate issued by the land board concerned, shall be liable to a fine of P10 000.”

However indications suggest that Kweneng Land board and Mogoditshane sub land board are refusing to accept the fee from the affected residents, and in some cases, some have paid but are yet to be allocated by the land boards. The Tsolamosese and Nkoyaphiri residents maintained to this publication that the land boards also flouted the Kgabo Commission report which absolved some of them from any wrong-doing.

This publication has also gathered that some residents were allocated by Dikgosi (chiefs) in the past and therefore do not possess customary land certificates which are presented as evidence to claim ownership of the land. “We were not allocated plots by the Land boards and therefore have no certificates and some of us bought the land from other people,” one of the residents said.

The land board had however in some instances also demolished some squatters, and later Englishman Kgabo, who chaired the Kgabo commission was roped in to investigate the then alleged land maladministration.

The Kgabo Commission had recommended that those who unlawfully safeguarded plots for themselves should be evicted (and others were ejected) or if such plots were well developed they should be allowed to settle (depending on the jurisdiction of the judicial officer).

Some residents blame the Land boards especially after the latter assured them that those who were on the Kgabo Commission report would not be affected by the demolition. Tsolamosese residents have fought tooth and nail at the High Court with the Ministry of Lands but their efforts drew blanks.

WeekendPost has gathered that the Land board is said to be tapping on the loophole – whereby some residents do not possess land certificates – while not complying with both the Khama pardon and Kgabo commission reports.

“We are the victims of the Kgabo commission, and later we were pardoned by President Khama with a P10 000 fee and others P5 000 for the Land boards to provide us with certificates to the land, and, now the Kweneng Land Board and Mogoditshane sub Land Board want to ignore this presidential pardon – as this is not being implemented as such,” stated a resident of Nkoyaphiri who preferred anonymity in the highly explosive and sensitive land matter.

In a kgotla meeting at Tsolamosese addressed by Member of Parliament for Gabane Mmankgodi Major General Pius Mokgware on Wednesday, some residents called for the dissolution of the two land boards. “There seems to be a lot of corruption at Mogoditshane and Kweneng Land boards and they should be dissolved with immediate effect,” a fuming resident told the kgotla meeting.

He emphasised that some residents who applied after 2000 are already allocated and therefore by-passing those who applied as far back as the early 90’s. He rhetorically asked about the procedure of electing land boards: “who elects them and who are they accountable to?” The two land board officials failed to turn up at the kgotla meetings although they were invited by the Mmankgodi / Manyana constituency office thereby sparking anger among the agitated residents.

Efforts of soliciting comment from the Kweneng Land Board hit a snag as the secretary was said to be on leave while Deputy Land Board secretary Vincent Sekano and Public Relations officer Simon Paledi were yet to respond to Weekend Post inquiries at press at the time of going to press.

It is not the first time the land board finds itself being pitted against the wall for questionable land dealings, in the early 90’s the then Vice president Peter Mmusi set up a commission of inquiry in reaction to a litany of objections about the performance of land boards and impropriety regarding land allocation in Mogoditshane and other peri-urban villages.  

Although the Kgabo commission then implicated Peter Mmusi and the then Minister of Agriculture (and Botswana Democratic Party Secretary General) Daniel Kwelagobe for illegally acquiring land in Mogoditshane, a certain piece of land in Nkoyaphiri- they were later absolved by the courts of law.

Meanwhile Minister of Lands and Housing Prince Maele on Thursday told another kgotla meeting at Gabane that he will dispatch a select team to address the grievances as a result of Kgabo commission and flouting presidential pardon, including other concerns raised by the residents.  He assured the residents to have addressed the matter within six months.

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Botswana economic recovery depends on successful vaccine rollout – BoB

5th May 2021

Bank of Botswana (BoB) has indicated that the rebounding of domestic economy will depended on successful vaccine roll-out which could help business activity to return to its post pandemic days.

Projections by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggest a rebound in economic growth for Botswana in 2021.

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Inside the UB-BDF fighter Jet tragedy report

5th May 2021

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.

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Uphill battle in Khama’s quest to charge Hubona

5th May 2021

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.

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