In an unprecedented event, Parliament has this week unanimously granted President Mokgweetsi Masisi with sweeping powers to rule the country alone by decree through State of Emergency powers (SoE) for 6 months.
The period was requested by President Masisi who reasoned he wanted to fight the deadly Corona Virus also known as COVID 19. The move comes after Botswana recorded 13 confirmed cases although the country is currently on 28 days lockdown to avoid the spread.
Members of Parliament defied the lockdown for an emergency meeting in Gaborone to seek mandate for President Masisi and his government to combat COVID 19 through State of Emergency powers. The move will render parliament irrelevant and hopeless as the president would not need it to make or change any law, during the 6 month period, he so wishes.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) triumphed through their numerical strengths although they failed to state compelling reasons to back up their justifications of the controversial 6 months. Although the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) had good points for suggesting 28 days there were in vain when it came to the vote.
Subsequent to 28 days, UDC even went further to compromise for 3 months to allow for strong accountability with the leverage to extend. It is understood that even despite calling this emergency powers, parliament may still sit in the July if the circumstances of the Corona Virus dictates so.
Speaking to Weekend Post after parliament passed the motion, an independent Gaborone based attorney Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi Law Firm confirmed that â€œHe (Masisi), during this period of State of Emergency, as passed by parliament, will have powers to rule by decree and disregard any law except for the constitution.â€Masisi borrowed from Section 17 of the Botswana constitution which gives a sitting president superior powers to declare a state of emergency at any time.
In addition he also referred to the Emergency Powers Act section 3 which essentially gives him authority and leeway to rule alone by diktat. Furthermore he will not need to call for parliament approval of the rules during the SoE during the aforementioned 6 month period. In terms of section 3 the President Masisi may: â€œa) make provision for the detention of persons or the restrictions of their movement, and for the deportations and exclusions from the Republic of persons who are not citizens of Botswana.
Masisi, under SoE, may also authorize the taking of possession or control on behalf of the Republic of any property or undertaking; the acquisition on behalf of the Republic of any property other than land and authorize the entering and search of any premises. In addition the section states that he can also provide for amending any enactment, for suspension of the operation of any enactment, and for applying any enactment with or without modification.
He may also â€œprovide for the apprehension, trial and punishment of persons offending against the regulations. Provided that nothing on this paragraph shall authorize the making of provision for the trial of persons by military courts.â€ â€œProvide for charging in respect of the grant or issue of any licence, permit, certificate or other document for the purposes of the regulations such fee as may be prescribed by or under the regulations,â€ the section states.
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.