As the fight against Corona Virus (COVID-19) continues to intensify, the government of Botswana has set aside P2 billion to be used in prevention of the deadly virus, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane has revealed.
Tsogwane said this, following the launch of the COVID-19 Relief Fund this week. The fund according to Minister of Presidential Affairs Governance and Public Administration Kabo Morwaeng, â€œwill assist to mitigate the impact of COVID 19.â€ The establishment of the fund is to allow everyone to make financial contributions towards the fight against the spread of the virus.
There have been reports that the government is too â€˜brokeâ€™ to fight the virus, but Tsogwane says they are ready.Â â€œWe are not broke but we do not have money,â€ he said ambiguously. â€œIn the fight against this, we had to engage the finance ministry and see available funds where we can take to patch and we managed to source P2 billion to fight the virus. We did this by stopping some of the projects,â€ Tsogwane said.
By far Botswana is still a Corona virus green zone and the government is determined to maintain the posture hence sourcing funds where possible to ensure the status quo remains.Â â€œThe most important thing is to prevent this virus. It should not spread because of our irresponsibility. It does not select if you are rich or poor, it infects everyone and with our small population we could be wiped out,â€ Tsogwane warned.
With this, a Public Health Specialist from the Ministry of Health and Wellness Mmakgomo Raesima has disclosed that up to date they have sent 160 samples for confirmation. â€œWe do not have a confirmed case yet. We have sent out 160 samples, we are expecting 76 of those to be verified but all have been negative,â€ Raesima said. Raesima said the Ministry of Health is awaiting accreditation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to carry out tests and not send them to South Africa for verification.
From the ministry, she says they have devised four public health measures that are aimed at preventing the virus which are; quarantine, isolation, social distancing and community lockdown. Apart from the health ministry, other ministries have also came up with measures to be implemented in keeping the disease at bay.
â€œGyms, arcade, saloons and liquor outlets will be closed from this Saturday because that is where people meet and can spread the virus. We have also agreed to have trade flow with South Africa going but we have changed protocols at borders to ensure that everyoneÂ is protected,â€ Minister of Trade and Investment Peggy Serame said on Thursday. Her counterpart from Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Anna Mokgethi has also come up with modifications.
â€œWe will not be availing visas to anyone. No foreigners will be allowed to enter in Botswana, only locals and those with resident and work permits. Four airports are still running and a number of borders are still open for people to enter through,â€ she told pastors on Thursday morning updating them on how her Ministry is fighting the disease. Botswana is not ruling possibilities of a lockdown but that will be effected only if the presidential task team advise for that or the situation gets out of hand. As at Thursday this week, 492,085 cases had been registered with 22,176 deaths recorded. Meanwhile 118,022 recovered. In Africa, there are over 2600 cases with 29 deaths.
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.