Ministers fear initiative projects poor party policy image; Scheme was endorsed by Ministry before 2014 elections
The controversial Graduate Volunteer Scheme (GVS) has received mixed reactions from members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), including cabinet members over its purpose and rationality. Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture principals Okayed the scheme in October 2014.
The WeekendPost has been informed that some cabinet members are displeased with the latest scheme as they perceive the initiative as more or less a replica of the existing National Internship Program. Government introduced the GVS a week ago and announced that it targeted unemployed graduate youth who are not in the internship programme.
The objective of the Internship Programme is to provide short-term work experience at minimal cost to the employer so that young people emerging from tertiary institutions gain practical experience of a working environment.
The programme, although criticized has managed to attract a large number of graduates and with levels of unemployment skyrocketing, others were not absorbed by the program in both the both in the public and private sectors. The programme targets government sponsored Bachelor Degree holders, while Diploma graduates are not eligible to participate in the programme.
The Ministry of Sports, Youth and Culture (MSYC) has stated that the new programme is intended to; facilitate skills development and transfer them to graduates, promote the spirit of volunteerism, contribute to community development, improve resilience of graduates as well as to reduce their idle time. After it was approved by Ministry principals in 2014, it was agreed that it had to wait for the next financial year.
With criticism piling up over duplication of government initiatives, discontent from influential cabinet ministers may finally pressure the MSYC to repeal the initiative before implementation.
The statement from the ministry had said that participants would be enrolled in areas where they had accommodation, and that emphasis would be in rural districts where there is need for service.
The bone of contention was not only the objectives of the initiative but the P600 allowance which participants would be paid on monthly basis. Scores of the political activist have suggested that the government’s new initiative will serve as exploitation conduit because of its off-putting monthly take home.
This publication has established that the initiative was never discussed at cabinet level by the current cabinet, although the idea was conceived before last year’s general elections. WeekendPost has also learnt that former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Shaw Kgathi has indicated his discontent with the new initiative.
Member of Parliament for Tati West Guma Moyo and MP for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane are also not happy with the programme. In the heat of debate before the closure of the just ended parliament session, Moswaane expressed his desire to see President Lt Gen Ian Khama appearing before parliament to answer questions from legislators and account for the government policies.
The initiative has also rubbed the party’s Youth Wing the wrong way, with the Chairperson Andy Boatile having requested to meet with the current Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture. The GVS issue has become a hot issue since government announcement and has raised more questions on the ruling party’s structures especially the BDP Youth Wing in contributing towards policy formulation.
The government had previously introduced Tirelo Sechaba, and Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) which also proved unpopular with the unemployed youth population.
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.