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Opposition walkout: BDP ready to compromise

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chief Whip Fidelis Molao has said his party is willing to compromise so as to accommodate opposition grievances over the election of members of the National Assembly’s standing committees.

Molao said they are amenable to discuss and give way in some of the positions. He said they have realised that the opposition MPs were riled more especially by an election that was to determine members of the International Parliamentary Union (IPU). “We are waiting for them to cool down so that we may discuss,” he said.

20 Opposition Members of Parliament staged a walk-out on Thursday after they were denied a chance to chair or be members of certain working committees of Parliament. They accused the BDP of coming up with an unfair and undemocratic criteria of appointing members to these committees.

In an interview, the BDP Chief Whip explained that while they are willing to compromise, they are surprised by the opposition’s “cry baby” mentality which in a way mocks democracy. “As the BDP we are in a majority, when it comes to decisions that are taken through a vote, we will most definitely win,” he said.

Molao observed that the BDP has always dominated the membership of committees and it has never been an issue because it has always had many MPs. He said as Parliament they had adopted a formula that would ensure that other party’s majority will not be distorted. He said the Selection Committee chaired by the Speaker met two weeks ago to agree on the lists of MPs to be distributed accordingly across various committees.

The Selection Committee also has BDP Chief Whip, Leader Opposition, Duma Boko, BDP’s Thato Kwerepe and Opposition Whip, Wynter Mmolotsi as members. According to Molao, the BDP and the Opposition both brought forward their wish lists and names were placed in various committees. “Even the BCP which has the least number of MPs was slotted in. If we had followed the law to the letter, the BCP will not have made it into any of the sub committees,” he said.

Molao further explained that the process was completed with the Speaker, who had used her discretion to bend the law, announced the names of people according to the committees they will serve, “there was no objection from the floor,” he added.

Molao explained that the problem arose because every time there is an election, the BDP won the position of chairman because of its numbers in Parliament. He said the last straw was with the election of membership of the IPU which the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition are automatic members.

He said they had to elect an extra four members – a woman and one of the other three must be under 40 years. “As the BDP we decided that we will take two slots and give one to the Opposition,” said Molao. The BDP had to decide between Dr Unity Dow and Ms Botlogile Tshireletso.

The Opposition wanted to include Dithapelo Keorapetse and Ms Same Bathobakae. On the other hand the BDP wanted to bring in Kefentse Mzwinila through the Under 40 banner, so there was a conflict. We decided that there be an election and four ballot papers were distributed to MPs. The problems ensued when the ballot could not tally and there to be another round of voting. Opposition MPs decided to quit the process,” he said.

According to Molao, they are willing to compromise and accommodate the opposition because membership of parliament committees is not about party colours but ability. He said in the last parliament, they rarely decided matters of standing committees through votes.

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Botswana economic recovery depends on successful vaccine rollout – BoB

5th May 2021

Bank of Botswana (BoB) has indicated that the rebounding of domestic economy will depended on successful vaccine roll-out which could help business activity to return to its post pandemic days.

Projections by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggest a rebound in economic growth for Botswana in 2021.

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Inside the UB-BDF fighter Jet tragedy report

5th May 2021

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.

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Uphill battle in Khama’s quest to charge Hubona

5th May 2021

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.

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