An almost perfect week for Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) which was punctuated by the opening of the academic year was interrupted by a calculated bomb scare and, later, a delivery of a 36 page so called rebuttal by an organisation representing the former Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Hillary Inyang to the Assistant Minister, Dr Unity Dow.
As Dr Dow was perusing through the voluminous document, security agents were busy evacuating the school and searching the campus for a potential explosive for the better part of Wednesday. All the while students were bussed to various points for safety and the academic calendar disrupted.
Several hours after the bomb scare reports, the former Distinguished Professor of the University delivered a dossier titled, “Open letter of rebuttal of your claims against former BIUST Vice Chancellor before the eminent Parliament of Botswana on Friday, December 12, 2014 as reported in the widely distributed WeekendPost of Saturday, December 13 – 14, 2014.” While Dow was reportedly unfazed by the rebuttal, there were indications from the context of the prose that Inyang and the Ministry had serious differences on the handling of BIUST affairs.
Weekend Post has established that Prof Inyang had wanted to set up satellite BIUST campuses around the country at such places as Maun, Serowe, Francistown and others, but the Ministry did not support the idea. The Serowe campus was already on the pipeline.
Dr Dow vehemently opposed a budget proposal by Inyang which some qualified in the billions of Pula and was allegedly even more than the Ministry’s annual budget. This publication learns that the figure would have been about P13 billion over a considerable period of time. The Former Vice Chancellor had also wanted to set up a School of Sociology within BIUST, officials at the Ministry praised his idea but advised that it was not suited for a science and technology oriented university like BIUST adding that there were going to be budget constraints to finance its setup. In his proposal to the Ministry Inyang had budgeted for a total intake of 5000 students, an idea which was also shot down because of budget constraints.
Prof Inyang and his team take issue with Dr Dow because: “you as a prominent member of the Botswana legal community, endorsed rumours about operations at BIUST and the former Vice Chancellor-Distinguished Prof. Hilary Inyang, and took the shocking step of reporting them as facts to the Parliament of Botswana without contacting him or any of his associates, or the former Council Chair-Mr. Serwalo Tumelo, or the Chancellor Mr. Festus Mogae for verification.” The Professor’s team say the rebuttal is also necessitated by the need to clear potential reputational damage that Dr Dow’s claims in Parliament against the former Vice Chancellors may occasion.
They wrote: “On behalf of our organization – The Global Union of Experts for International Development (GUEFIND) which is an informal union of internationally acclaimed intellectuals, serving former public servants at ranks that include ex-ministers/cabinet members of several countries, entrepreneurs, and opinion leaders across cultures and nationalities including Batswana, we hereby congratulate you on your recent appointment as Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MOESD) of the Republic of Botswana.”
The reasons that the Assistant Minister had handed to Parliament over the resignation of the Vice Chancellors, particularly Prof. Hilary I. Inyang, are not true. “Prof. Inyang clearly stated reasons for his resignation. These reasons (mostly interference which is herein reported in succeeding sections) were also echoed by both his predecessor and successor.” He disputes reports that he hired foreigners without permits, paid them higher salaries compared to locals, and even created posts for them. He qualifies these as rumours spread by some staff members.
In his resignation letter dated October 7, 2014, Prof. Inyang says he had stated that “If there are any outstanding allegations against me or my BIUST Administration, I would like to know about them so that we can address them before my departure from BIUST,” and “Per my contract, this will allow six months for my help to the Ministry in an interim period during which my successor can be recruited.”
Inyang is of the view that his departure was hurried in late November, 2014, through a letter to him urging him to leave without serving the Interim period that he had proposed which would have helped in concluding academic programming, staffing and accommodation arrangements for students early enough for the opening of the 2014/2015 academic year. The Ministry had duly paid the Distinguished Professor for the six months he demanded and decided not to keep him around. Upon his exit, it is understood that Inyang had made a proposal to the Ministry to the effect that he be engaged as a consultant to help BIUST, but the Ministry had other ideas.
In his rebuttal Prof. Inyang explains why he opposes long-term career-long appointments of staff at BIUST. “In an academic institution, unproductive staff often uses the cushion of permanent appointment to perpetuate mediocrity and unproductivity.” This how the former BIUST Chancellor esteems himself: “GUEFIND notes that BIUST and indeed Botswana had been fortunate to attract Distinguished Professor Hilary Inyang to lead BIUST. Though unassuming and polite, he is an internationally admired and respected scholar who exerts considerable influence on agencies and scholars worldwide. He is a member of the Education Caucus of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, a multiple award winner in several countries and a recent finalist for the position of United Nations Assistant Secretary-General.”
As the security agents continue their search for the potential source of the bomb threat, and Dr Dow scans through Professor Inyang’s rebuttal, BIUST is back to normal. Classes have resumed and there are over 1500 students trying to build a future at the University. The new chairman of the BIUST Council, Bernard Bolele is confident that the University has stabilised and should be in a position to produce high quality graduates soon.
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.