The son to the late former President Sir Seretse Khama and one of the younger twin brothers to former President Ian Khama, Tshekedi Khama has this week attracted the wrath of a scathing response from the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr Thapelo Matsheka.
This comes after Tshekedi drew first blood when responding to Matsheka’s Budget Speech, saying the new Finance Minister has embarrassed the President in his presentation. However, Matsheka responded this week saying Tshekedi’s concern is more of a fight for control of the country and its natural resources than anything else. “In some instances, the fight for the control of the country and party is at the core of wild accusations. These people are fighting for the control of the nation’s resources,” Matsheka said of Tshekedi in Parliament.
Tshekedi blames Masisi’s administration on poaching
Matsheka said the nation should, however, dispel the myth that only a few people care or know about rhinos more than others. Tshekedi Khama was of the view that there has been an increase in poaching ever since the current government came into power but the views raised by Khama relating to poaching are misleading, he said. “It is not true that poaching specifically increased under the new government, as poaching has always been a challenge even under your leadership as the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Natural Resources,” Matsheka observed.
However the Finance Minister admitted that recently, there has been an increase in rhino poaching and this has been the case even in neighbouring countries, such as Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This cannot be placed at the door of the current government, he lashed out. Matsheka said this after Tshekedi teared down his remarks on poaching, blaming President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration for poor policies towards rhino safeguarding.
“The poaching of rhinos, an endangered species is but only one example where the removal of the weapons from department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) was a huge mistake, the responsibility of protecting our wildlife was given to the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), which has demonstrated that they cannot protect our wildlife, in the same way as the DWNP anti-poaching unit did, also in this house last week Hon Kapinga read the Act that gives the Wildlife Department the right to carry arms – therefore the story that the DWNP were doing so illegally has to be considered as incorrect and misleading,” Tshekedi stated.
He had also added that it is apparent that there is little or no coordination in dealing with wildlife poaching. He continued: “stop telling the world your failings, as of today the country has lost more than 40 rhinos, let alone elephants as well as illegal bush meat trade which are no longer reported, as it is now common place, how tragic, do government have a plan to address these poaching, (dehorning and its announcement is the reason for the spike in Rhino poaching).” Tshekedi took the opportunity to offer his assistance to Masisi and the Ministry in combating poaching. In 2015, he added, whilst doing the northern Botswana elephant count not one elephant carcass was observed over an area of 110,000sq km, but today that is not the case at all.
Matsheka: missing P100 billion at Bank of Botswana under investigation
The Serowe West Member of Parliament, Tshekedi raised worry that Matsheka as the Minister of Finance remained silent on the P100 billion supposedly hived of from Bank of Botswana. “But we are all aware that Bank of Botswana has said no such amount is missing interesting that in the state of the nation address by President Masisi, he said that foreign exchange reserves stood at P71.4 billion,” Tshekedi highlighted.
He also said that this debacle will create suspicion as well as uncertainty amongst the world banking sector as well as investors. “What will they think of Botswana, this will damage our country’s reputation, and by extension effect the livelihood of Batswana, if it hasn’t already,” Tshekedi said. When responding to the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) MP, Matsheka posited: “the issue of the alleged P100 billion is still before the courts of law and the due process should be allowed to take its course, without fear or favour. We will all have our day in court; we know what we did in government”, which was later to be incorrect when Leader of Opposition Dumelang Saleshando interjected. Matsheka then rephrased to say the matter is still “under investigation”.
On Air assets; “we cannot afford these toys” – Tshekedi Khama
According to Tshekedi, BDF was spending recklessly on air assets and misplacing its priorities. “On BDF budget, air assets, it is astounding that this budget, would put so much of the budget towards air assets which would include helicopter gunships, Mirage 2000, fighter jets, amongst others, we simply cannot afford these expensive toys,” Tshekedi lashed out. He asked rhetorically: ‘‘does the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security or the Commander of BDF not live in Botswana? Have they not seen the diabolical state of schools, hospitals, roads, government buildings police stations, etc?’’
In response Matsheka said he does not concur with the members that the BDF sector has been allocated a substantial amount of the budget. However, he added that “we need to understand that the security of this country and its assets/infrastructure built over time has to be protected. Needless to say that the allocation Members are alluding to are not only for air assets but for the entire defence and security of this country.”
Further, he reiterated the clarification provided by the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Kagiso Mmusi that indeed, during the financial year 2020/21, the BDF will not procure any military or other aircraft from development budget allocated for air assets. “As the Minister has explained, the term air assets is broad. Out of P1.94 billion development budget allocated to the entire Ministry, an amount of P80 336, 890.00 (eighty million three hundred and thirty six thousand, eight hundred and ninety Pula), will be used for air assets, which in this case include radar operation system upgrades, integrated landing systems, etc.”
He went on to highlight that he does not need to go on to the issue of military expenditure in the current budget. “I will admit that Tshekedi Khama knows more about procurement at the BDF than I do but I assure him that we are dealing with the legacy of the past and that we shall resolve it,” he said.
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.