VICTORIOUS: Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) Executive Director, Benjamin Raletsatsi is seen here with lawyers acting for his organisation after they successfully fought an urgent court application by the suspended BNYC chairman, Louis Sibanda on Wednesday.
The plan by suspended Botswana National Youth Council Chairperson (BNYC) Louis Sibanda to keep receiving financial benefits from the organization while serving his suspension was this week shattered by the High Court in Gaborone – after his urgent application was dismissed with costs.
High Court, Judge Zein Kebonang questioned why the BNYC chairman gets priviledges similar to those of employees.
The main contention to the case was Sibanda’s uneasiness with losing benefits associated with his office. This publication understands that BNYC provides Sibanda with free accommodation as well as sitting allowances by the virtue of him being the organisation’s chairperson.
Investigations by this publication have revealed that the chairperson of the organization benefits from a relatively high cost house worth of P6500 per month of rentals. It is also understood that Sibanda gets an estimated sitting allowance of P700 per sitting.
BNYC Executive Secretary Benjammin Raletsatsi also confirmed briefly outside court to this publication on Wednesday that the chairperson of the organization benefits from a medium-high cost house worth of P6500 per month of rentals.
According to Raletsatsi, “the bearer of the position (chair) also attracts a sitting allowance of around P700 per sitting and normally the Executive Committee sits once or more than that per month”. Other board members are estimated to receive around P500 in every sitting of the organisation’s meetings.
Sibanda was deprived of the priviledges and suspended from office for alleged maladministration. The benefits were scrapped following his suspension by the Executive Committee as he was removed from office to create way for unhindered and un-interfered parallel investigations by both the National Assembly and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
Initially the urgent application by Sibanda had sought to have the decision of BNYC Executive Committee to suspend him be set aside on account of procedural irregularities that occurred in the process of reaching its decision. However more concentration was targeted particularly to benefits deprived of the chairperson during the suspension – at least that was their bone of contention, this publication has observed.
Justice Zein Kebonang has also questioned the logic behind Sibanda’s benefit of free accommodation while he is and was not an employee of BNYC – but just a board member.
When making submissions before court, a lawyer representing Sibanda, Mugoni Molodi of Mugoni Molodi Attorneys said that if court does not set aside the suspension, his client (Sibanda) will lose benefits which she is entitled to, like free rental house and sitting allowances – as he remains the substantive chairperson despite suspension.
He said these priviledges were mandatory to the chairperson until his term of office elapses (after the 3 years which they are allocated in office).
On his part renowned attorney Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi Lawfirm who represented BNYC said it was befitting that he be denied the benefits because he was not carrying out any duties related to the office due to his suspension. “He has no right to that accommodation as he is not entitled to it – it is a priviledge,” he argued.
“He is not doing any business with BNYC because he is not carrying out that duty. He does not even deserve to have been in the house to start with, in my opinion. Moreover he has not shown that he has that right to accommodation in his argument, he acknowledged it as a privilege – which is self-defeating,” Ndadi pointed out.
Ndadi further asked the court to endow punitive measures to Sibanda as the case is self serving and places individual interest beneath interest of the organization. He said Sibanda wants to protect self serving interests like sitting allowances and accommodation while he was not currently carrying out the organisation’s functions.
“These elements show that this application is self serving as it is just about personal rights. It is an abuse of court process,” he argued.
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.