Dingake says Minister Matambo should have been notified of report allegations
The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo has successfully lobbied the High Court to set aside the contents of a report chronicling misdemeanours at the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC)’s Fengyue Glass Project which is based in Palapye.
Parliament adopted the Fengyue Glass Project report in July 2013 and pronounced criminal liability on some subjects and called for investigation by among others the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
Matambo, through his lawyers approached the court complaining about breach of the principles of natural justice and the legality of decisions made by the National Assembly. He was suing the Speaker of the National Assembly, Chairperson of the Special Select Committee of Enquiry into the BDC’s Fengyue Glass Project, and the Attorney General.
When delivering Judgement, High Court Judge Key Dingake concurred with Matambo’s legal team that the report was unlawful because it breaches the principles of natural justice. Dingake added that the report contained inaccurate information which was misleading to the public and highly prejudicial to Matambo.
“This Court is acutely aware of public interest in ensuring that public entities are held accountable and that the executive, in all its formations, account to Parliament. But this does not mean that shortcuts should be taken because administering justice in every case that comes to court is even greater public interest. In the temple of justice, justice must prevail at all times. In dispensing justice public condemnation or praise is irrelevant. Justice has its own pace, and even if delayed it has an amazing way to reassert itself in due course,” said Justice Dingake when delivering judgment on Wednesday.
Dingake said it is worth emphasising that judges are or ought to be mortgaged to the rule of law and to be true arbiters of what is fair and what is not. “Parliament as an institution must lead by example. It must be fair at all times and respect rights of individuals. Parliament, the creation of the Constitution, ought to be subject to no authority other than the Constitution, itself. Parliamentarians are oath bound to respect the Constitution, not just in words but in deeds,” he said.
“Having regard to the authorities referred to herein, and the grave nature of the allegations made against the Applicant, who has a right to his good name and reputation, it seems inevitable that he ought to succeed in the relief he seeks,” pronounced the Judge.
Dingake ordered that the findings of the report which was adopted by National Assembly on the 25 July 2013 by the National Assembly be set aside. The Judge said declaring the adoption on 25 July 2013 by the National Assembly of the report which was issued, on or about 28 December 2012 on the Fengyue Glass Manufacturing (Botswana) Palapye Glass Project, in so far it concerned or related to the Applicant (Matambo) was unlawful, and accordingly invalid; for breach of the principles of natural justice, and in particular the audi alteram partem rule, in relation to the Applicant (Matambo).
The judge observed that Matambo occupied a position akin to that of an accused person. “The Applicant’s conduct lie at the centre of the Committee’s examination and is the major subject matter of the Committee’s report,” he said. In the Judge’s considered view, the Parliament Select Committee exceeded its oversight and legislative functions when they proceeded to make pronouncements relating to criminal liability and the need for investigation.
He further said it seemed plain that at the very least, the applicant should have been informed what adverse information was given against him and be afforded a fair opportunity of answering. Dingake expressed that the review of the BDC Fengyue Glass Project report does not harm or in any way undermine the constitutional mandate of Parliament to legislate, “neither does it undermine Parliament’s powers to regulate its internal affairs. It would be a dark day in the legal history of this country if Section 3, worded in the manner it is, is construed to block any person ‘s access to the courts…”
“The costs of this application shall be borne by the respondents (who opposed the application), jointly and severally and one paying, the others to be absolved.
This is the second time that Minister Matambo has taken the court route to clear his name. In the first matter Matambo remained in his position of Minister of Finance and Development Planning while at the same time battling corruption allegations in court, he ultimately was cleared of any wrong doing.
The Botswana Development Corporation petitioned the High Court for the liquidation of Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Company (Proprietary) Limited. The Company is a joint venture between Botswana Development Corporation and Shanghai Fengyue Glass Co. Ltd. The Company was set up in 2007 for the construction of a 450 tonne ï¬‚oat glass plant in Palapye.
BDC was of the view that the project failed to meet its targets, including those of time and budget which, in BDC’s opinion, affected the viability of the project. The Corporation had assessed all possible options and having taken all factors into consideration has decided that the appropriate course of action is, as a Shareholder in the joint venture, to petition the Court to liquidate the Company.
The chairperson of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee of inquiry into the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), Mr Abram Kesupile had told Parliament that the Palapye glass manufacturing project was bound to fail as it was premised on poor diligence, doubtful partner selection and a litany of project implementation violations.
Presenting the findings of the report on the BDC Fengyue Glass Manufacturing (Botswana) Palapye Glass Project in Parliament, Mr Kesupile, who is also Kanye South MP, said the findings revealed that two Batswana women were robbed after presenting their glass manufacturing idea to BDC.
He said BDC then opted to go into a joint venture with Chinese Shanghai Fengyue Glass Company, ignoring their function of encouraging citizen partnership in national business ventures. Kesupile said the company was appointed although it did not have the required technical expertise. He said BDC board members were kept in the dark with regard to the partner selection process.
He also noted that the project was originally estimated to cost P309 million but ran additional costs which increased to over P500 million.
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.