The Minister of Defence Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi has on Friday this week, withdrawn a response he made to a question asked by Gabane/ Mmakgodi Member of Parliament (MP), Pius Mokgware in regards to declaration of assets and requested that his response be struck out of the hansard.
“In my response to question 461 by Hon Maj General P. Mokgware MP for Gabane Mmankgodi, on Tuesday 24th March 2015, I have indicated in respect of Declaration of Assets that Cabinet Members were declaring their interests to his Excellency the President, Judges to the Chief Justice and Members of Parliament to the Speaker of the National Assembly.
I wish to retract my submission in relation to Members of Parliament and Judicial Officers as I have since established that this is not yet the case. My answer at the time was based on the expectation on the part of the executive that Members of Parliament would declare their interests to the Speaker and judicial officers to the chief justice. In that regard, I request that this part of my response be expunged from the Hansard of Tuesday 24th March 2014,” Kgathi stated.
In March Kgathi had stated that, “regarding the Declaration of Assets the position is that Cabinet Members declare to his Excellency the President, Members of Parliament to the Speaker of the National Assembly and Judges to the Chief Justice which I find adequate.”
Mokgware had wanted to know what steps Kgathi was taking to address the inadequate legislation that hinder or pose challenges to advance the fight against corruption such as forfeiture of proceeds of corruption, whistle blowing and declaration of assets.
On Thursday this week Kgathi made another retraction from the Hansard which prompted the opposition members of the house to label him an untrustworthy source of Parliament responses. Kgathi was withdrawing a statement he made in December 2014 that Seleka’s Springs (Pty) Ltd was never awarded tenders by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Botswana Police Services during the period 1980 until 1998.
His response contradicted a previous confirmation by the former Acting Minister in the same Ministry, Lesego Motsumi who said the same company whose Directors were twin brothers to the then army boss, who is the current President of the Republic, Lieutenant General Ian Khama Seretse Khama, supplied the BDF with vehicles around the same period, 1990 to 2000. The tenders according to Motsumi were awarded by the BDF’s Central tender board through its official structures.
Kgathi explained himself before Parliament in the following manner, “allow me to refer to my response to question number 149 by Hon Maj General Pius Mokgware, MP for Gabane Mmankgodi on the 10th December 2014.
The Honourable member through the question wanted me to state the number of tenders that were awarded to Seleka Springs by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and the value of such tenders. Furthermore allow me Mr Speaker to recall the two statements I made on the same matter on the 11th December 2014 and 16 February 2015.
The statements were specifically in response to the matter raised by Honourable Wynter Mmolotsi MP for Francistown South, wanting me to reconcile my response to question 149 of 2014 by Honourable Mokgware and question 3 of 15th December 2010 asked by Honourable Mmolotsi which was responded to by Honourable Lesego Motsumi, former MP for Ramotswa and then Acting Minister of Defence Justice and Security at the time of responding to the question,”
“In specific response to the request for reconciliation of the matter relating to Seleka Springs (PTY) Ltd and the BDF acquisition. I am happy to do so Mr Speaker. I am accordingly expunging from the Hansard No.165 part 2 of 29 February to 17 December 2010 the part relating to Seleka Springs in response given by the then Acting Minister for Defence, Justice and Security, Hon L.E Motsumi to question number 3 of 15th December 2010 by Honourable W.B Mmolotsi, MP for Francistown South as it was erroneous to have indicated that Seleka Springs was a supplier, when in fact it has never been. In expunging of the part relating to Seleka Springs, the two questions shall remain as correction for question number 3 of 15 December 2010 and question number 149 of December 2014,” Kgathi told Parliament.
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.