The humiliating loss of the opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) at the just ended 2019 General Elections has been attributed to their association with embattled former President Ian Khama.
UDC attained a paltry 15 constituencies, with Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) managing only 3, Alliance for Progressives getting 1 and 38 seats amassed by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). According to In On Africa (IOA), which is one of the leading Africa-focused research, consulting and publishing firms based in Africa and focused solely on Africa, Khama aspect was key to opposition being defeat by the BDP.
IOA research has pointed out in their findings released this week that “the assessment of the country’s political dynamics noted that the Khama factor did play a major role in the recent elections and ultimately proved to be a key element in the UDC’s failure to secure victory”. Additionally, the report posits that the neutral stance of the trade unions proved to work in favour of the ruling party as Duma Boko’s arrogance, coupled with the opposition’s affiliation with Khama, resulted in labour unions showing their support for the ruling party on Election Day.
Although opposition parties have expanded their reach in the northern regions of Botswana and wrestled control of the Central District away from the BDP, the report states that Masisi’s influence won the favour of the urban electorate and rolled back the ground gained by the UDC in the 2014 elections. It further states that Botswana’s political landscape has indeed experienced a evolutionary phase in its 2019 elections, which will see the coming 2024 elections favour “the most stable, proactive political party” instead of the “status quo or the Khama legacy.”
Still, “the newly formed party BPF, strongly relying on tribal politics and the influence of the Khama’s, had a notable impact on BDP’s influence in the Central District, and while the future of this ‘coalition of the bitter’ remains uncertain, it is worth keeping an eye on over the coming years,” the report further observes.
Looking in on the next five years, the IOA observes that Batswana are now met with a sense of relief following Khama’s now “limited influence” over the country’s politics and the BDP, bringing a measure of hope that has been lacking for the past 10 years. “Though some within the opposition and their support base may not agree with the outcome of the election, they too will still share in this sense of relief given the long-term impact left by the Khama legacy,” the findings posit.
However some political pundits on the other hand believe that Khama was instrumental in increasing the popular vote of both UDC and BPF through majority wins for MP’s in the Central District, which was for a long time BDP heartland. In Central District, Khama assisted the UDC to win Selibe Phikwe West, Selibe Phikwe East, Bobonong, Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Palapye, Tonota, Shoshong, Mahalapye East, and Mahalapye West, which were known to be BDP throttleholds. On top of that, BPF also won areas formerly within BDP grip, areas such as Serowe North, Serowe South and Serowe West.
Future BDP victories no longer guaranteed
The report further says that the year 2019 will forever be remembered as the election year where Botswana politics saw a giant leap forward surrounding the democratic experiment, and, should this trend continue it predicts that 2024 will be an even more competitive election. According to the report, Botswana politics is no longer guaranteed to be the preserve of the ruling BDP but can go either way henceforth.
“This evolution of Botswana politics brings in a sense of democratic competition and the very real threat that future BDP victories are no longer guaranteed,” the document asserts. Going forward, it emphasizes that the ruling party will need to ensure that it delivers on its election promises and upholds an air of positivity surrounding Masisi. “It needs to further ensure positive change, successfully combating corruption and attracting more intelligent politicians that are able to act and govern on par with the country’s current leader.”
As the world grows increasingly more connected and the media enjoys ever more influence, the ruling party needs to tread carefully in upholding its public image, the Africa report continues. Moreover, it points out that the days of undermining the media and the people -as the case was during former President Khama’s reign- is something the BDP would need to distance itself from and ensure that the party is never again tied to the same practices.
It warns that “the landlocked Southern African country continues to face an array of social ills and while the BDP and President Masisi have won the battle, there is still a metaphorical war to be won.” According to the report, Botswana’s current social conditions and wealth distribution also do not reflect that of an upper- middle income country and Masisi’s work has only just begun.
“As climate change continues to grow in prominence, Botswana’s water situation, with its knock-on effects across the socio-political spectrum, is a particularly important factor that needs an increased impetus with more effective service delivery in the country’s rural area,” IOA findings indicate.
Accordingly, it states that this will go a long way to improve the living standard and general health of many Batswana, and in relation to this, it explains that it is pertinent for Masisi’s government to find more effective methods to deal with human-wildlife conflict, in addition to the hunting ban.
“Any strategies aimed at the latter should also bear in mind the role of Botswana’s tourism industry, both in relation to the economy and broader employment. With this in mind the age-old over- reliance on the diamond industry will have to be adjusted and more proactive policies adopted to provide sustainable employment, especially among the youth,” it states.
However, a vital component of youth employment has proven to be education aligned with the needs of the job market, the Africa report indicates adding that Masisi’s government urgently needs to ensure that the currently misaligned tertiary education sector be re-evaluated and re-vamped in order to deliver graduates who are capable of meeting the country’s skills requirements.
It adds: “Botswana’s ruling government also needs to look inward and address the institutional weaknesses that manifest in its outdated constitution. For the good of the whole nation and its future, it is critical to close in on the constitutional and other legislative loopholes with an aim of promoting its checks and balances.”
This is particularly important in the fight against corruption, it maintains while highlighting that part of these institutional frameworks is the controversial image of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), which should also be reworked to truly serve the people instead of being an instrument at the disposal of the President.
The research was conducted by In On Africa (IOA) which is one of the leading Africa-focused research, consulting and publishing firms. IOA was founded in 2007 and aims to ensure data-driven decision-making through quality research and analysis. IOA offers a wide range of services to help clients better understand Africa and to accelerate growth on the continent.
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.