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Expert shocked by lack of land-focused CSOs

Minister of Labour Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu worried by lack of anti-corruption NGOs

An expert on issues of land, Dr Fibian Lukalo who is the Director of Research and advocacy of the Kenya National Land Commission has expressed shock at the non-existence of land focused civil society groups in Botswana.

Dr Lukalo ascribes most countries’ progresive land policies and laws to civil society ‘s agressive and robust debates with the government.

In an enterview with WeekendPost on the sidelines of the Transparency International Meeting under the theme “Corruption in the land sector”,this week in Gaborone, Dr Lukalo said the civil society ‘s primary role is to keep the government on its toes and hold it accountable.

Botswana currently doesn’t have any Non-Governmental Organisations that advocate for land issues and right. The question of land has proved to be a mystery and an invisible monster in Botswana.The government is failing to meet the demand and the waiting lists are said to have gone over the population of the country. Many experts have said that the country is at crossroads.

The Kenyan expert has told the WeekendPost that while the government is the leader in developments,the civil society is the one that keeps the government on its toes to deliver on the promises.

 “They do not only keep the government under pressure but also offer alternative solutions to problems.They research on the issue and become under some instances the government’s partners in land development issues,” she said.

Dr Lukalo continued that several countries progress on issues of land were a result of the civil society’s enterventions and presence. “They watch every step taken by the government,every policy and laws and scrutinise it. The country has done so well on issues of HIV/AIDS because of different players and that can be the case with land as it can be with other matters,” she said.

The Director of Research and advocacy  of the Kenya National Land Commission went on to say she has learnt from Botswana government officials that the land policy is problematic.
“I told them that our land policy was driven by the civil society and that they are actually the ones who pushed for the creation of the Kenya Land Commission,” she said,further saying the civil society’s voice is a consolidation of the masses voices.

Who is to blame?

The NGO fraternity is of the view that it is true that there is a gap that needs a player to fill on the issues of land.For some time, the only active player has been Suvival International which has a narrow focus on the indigenous groups land rights. This group has assitsted in court battles ,some of which were successful.

NGOs however say that it is upon the mother of NGOs, Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO) and the newly formed NGO council to identify the gap and offer suggestions without diverting from their core mandates.

The NGO council was formed as result of the European Union (EU) ‘s request for the establishment of an NGOs Council which will act as the funnel for EU funds to NGOs.The council would inturn draft a code of conduct for NGOs to encourage transparency and accountability. The Council also apportion the funds and have the powers to ban or blacklist NGOs demeed unworthy.

WeekendPost can reveal that the Minister of Labour Home Affairs who the NGO council falls under recently expressed discontent over the fact that the country doesn’t have an anti-corruption NGO despite huge evidence of corruption in the country.

The NGO Council Coordinator Mr Michael Mokgaotsi told WeekendPost that they took heed of the Minister’s words and will ponder on them.

Asked over lack of NGOas on land issues, Mokgaotsi said that is true that the there are itchy areas that have been neglected by the society, “it is not only land,we also have the issue of corruption and many others which do not have any body behind them despite been contentious issues,” he said.

He added that the Council ‘s role together with BOCONGO should identify the gaps and suggest to the society to form NGOs geared towards addressing such problems.

“Our intention is to hold a stakeholders meeting where we can look into these issues and hopefully come up with solutions,” he said, further adding that they would also have to do a lot of public education.

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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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