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OP secretly relocate MP’s from Avani to private houses

Office of the President has covertly relocated the Members of Parliament (MP’s) from the luxurious Avani Hotel resort and casino to private houses following the public uproar.

Government parliamentary Chief Whip Liakat Kablay confirmed to Weekend Post this week that “the government is renovating the flats and so MP’s have been housed in private houses” and that “it happened 2 months back.” The hush-hush move came after public outcry on the questionable rationale behind housing the legislators at a lavish hotel at the tax payers’ money without convincing justification. The government will have to pay BWP 6, 217, 751.25 for accommodation and meals for MP’s and their spouses from 31st October 2019 to 20th December 2019 which some thought was unreasonable.

To add salt to injury, there were reports that established procurement processes were not followed on awarding the tender to Avani Hotel. Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) recently clarified that while they do not consider requests for payment but rather considers requests for appointment of service providers: “in this particular case Avani Resort and Casino was appointed ‘prior’ to approval by the adjudicating authority (PPADB/Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC)).”

Therefore, the tender adjudicator explained that the request was for retroactive appointment of Avani Resort and Casino for accommodation services and the Board rejected the retroactive appointment. “The decision not to approve was premised on the submission not satisfying Section 44 (2) of the PPAD Act as read with Section 3 of the PPAD (Retroactive Approvals) Order of 2012,” PPADB official mouthpiece Charles Keikotlhae told this publication last week.

However parliament, which operates under the auspices of the office of the President distanced itself from the PPADB for taking such bold decision. “PPADB is within its powers to approve or disapprove such submission,” Parliamentary Spokesperson Caroline Bogale – Jaiyeoba told Weekend Post upon inquiries. Meanwhile PPADB has called for the investigations on the controversial issue of awarding the MP’s in question the accommodation tender to Avani at a substantial cost of 6 million and on the way flouting the PPAD Act.

“The Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration is expected to investigate the matter and determine the reasons that led to this non-compliance with the PPAD Act and take appropriate action against relevant officer(s) if reasons for their non-compliance are not justified,” PPADB official further stated. However it remains a mystery on what motivation was applied for a decision to lodge the MP’s at Avani as compared to other Hotels (which may be low-priced).

When Weekend Post inquired on whether the procurement processes were followed on the particular matter to source more than 3 quotations as is standard practice and if so what were the other potential accommodation service providers, parliament was tight lipped on the substantive subject. Parliamentary spokesperson Bogale – Jaiyeoba only stated that “procurement processes to lodge Members of Parliament at Avani were dully followed and the decision was informed by an approval granted by the Ministerial Tender Committee.” This is notwithstanding the reservations raised by PPADB that was not in compliance with the PPAD Act which regulates award of tenders.

She did not even state if three quotations were sought on the multimillion accommodation tender and from what service providers if any but instead remaining mum on the material subject in what is by all intents and purposes a matter of public interest as it affects the public purse/funds. Furthermore, Bogale – Jaiyeoba also snubbed a question from this publication when requested to break down the more than 6 million pula cost for each MP (and their spouses or family) per day at the posh Hotel to get a clear sense of the extend of splashing of funds at the accommodation facility.

She only said this that “MP’s were accommodated at Avani with their spouses; charged for accommodation, meals, laundry and other hotel related charges” while not revealing the expenditure break down for the MP’s. In addition this publication also sought clarity on the progress made in the renovations of the parliamentary flats and when it is likely to complete but parliament could not shed some light on the development. This means that MP’s will continue to lodge at the private accommodation houses estimated at P11 000 per month for an undisclosed period until official flats renovations are complete.

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Botswana economic recovery depends on successful vaccine rollout – BoB

5th May 2021
Botswana-economic-recovery-depends-on-successful-vaccine-rollout---BoB-

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
Inside-the-UB-BDF-fighter-Jet-tragedy-report

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
JAKO HUBONA

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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