Masimolole petitions court to nullify Kgoroba’s win
High Court Judge Nthomiwa is expected to decide whether to proceed with a petition in which the former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Mogoditshane Member of Parliament Patrick Masimolole is suing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for losing the October 2014 General Elections.
In a closely contested election, Masimolole lost the constituency to Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s Sedirwa Kgoroba. Kgoroba garnered 4 180 while Macdonald Rakgare of the Botswana Congress Party came second with 3 846, and Masimolole was last with 3 787.
Ironically, it is Masimolole who is seeking the court to declare that the election process at the Mogoditshane constituency was unfair, improper, irregular and liable to be set aside as a nullity.
According to the court papers passed to this publication, the former legislator who is represented by Sadique Kebonang Attorneys, wants the court to declare that Kgoroba’s victory was due to lack of proper and due diligence on the part of the officials of IEC therefore making the elections unfair.
Masimolole also stated that should the court find the elections to have been marred with irregularities – in the affirmative – then it (court) should declare that Kgoroba was not duly elected. “The petition also seeks that the court certifies its determination to the Secretary of IEC Gabriel Seeletso who shall thereupon declare that Kgoroba was not duly elected.”
Meanwhile, the seconder to Kgoroba in the election, Rakgare, refused to be party to the petition. In fact the court papers reflect that he has refused to sign the letters or least meet with the petitioner.
Masimolole further states that, “alternatively, if the court determines that Kgoroba was not duly elected and that no other person was or is entitled to be declared duly elected, the court must declare the seat to be vacant and certify its determination to the President of the Republic of Botswana Lt. Gen. Ian Khama that a vacancy has occurred and the cause of such vacancy.”
According to Masimolole, alternatively, in the event it is determined that there was compliance with section 70 (1) of the Electoral Act, then he would ask for an order declaring that the counting process of the ballot papers at the Mogoditshane constituency was improper and irregular.
The order would direct and compel the IEC to count the election ballots of the constituency afresh within 30 days of issuance of such court order.
The former BDP legislator further complained in the court papers that, the first irregularity is in clear contravention of section 70 (1) of the Electoral Act Cap 02: 07. He asserted that after the ballot boxes arrived at Mogoditshane Senior Secondary School, which was the counting station, the returning officer, contrary to all expectations and due process did not verify ballot paper accounts of each polling station or any at all.
“This did not happen at Mogoditshane constituency elections. Upon arrival of the ballot boxes at the counting, agents were not allowed to verify the votes as required and mandated by section 70 (1) of the Electoral Act [ Cap 02: 09]. Accordingly there was non compliance with the mandatory requirements of the Act and the consequent results are a nullity,” he protested.
Another irregularity, he submitted, was that when the ballot boxes were emptied, the returning officer did not inform the counting agents and all other attendants at the polling station of each of the ballot boxes as they were being emptied as is the standard practice.
“The ballot boxes were just emptied haphazardly, some ballot boxes came to the counting station empty,” he asserted.
In addition and more critically, the former MP emphasised that, “the returning officer failed to verify and/or reconcile the results obtained from the charts by counting the actual ballot papers”.
Masimolole also maintained that the the failure to reconcile the results of the charts and the actual ballot papers was a grave irregularity that led to incorrect results in the constituency. He further averred that the practise being unfair led to unfair results.
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.