In the aftermath of the special parliament that was convened by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi during the course of this week, the union representing Botswana nurses has despised the gathering, after one of the nurses deployed to screen legislators was confirmed to have tested positive for COVID- 19.
This meant that all people who were present at the special general assembly at Boipuso Hall on Wednesday, 8th April 2020 could have had casual contact with the said nurse therefore exposing themselves in the process.
A week ago President Mokgweetsi announced a State of Emergency, and announced a lockdown a lockdown beginning 2nd April for 28 days. He also told the nation through the state broadcaster, Botswana Television (Btv) that he wanted the State of Emergency to last more than the 21 days stipulated in the constitution, therefore he would call parliament to extend it beyod the stipulated days.
A source who spoke to WeekendPost on anonymity said under the Emergency Powers Act, the president can make such regulations as appear to him to be necessary for amongst others securing the public’s safety and the defence of the Republic.
Owing to his promise to convene a special parliament in the next seven days, legislators met this week starting Monday in a bid to move or reject the motion which was pushed by leader of the house and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane.
However, a tragedy befell the house on Thursday morning when the house resumed business and they were notified by Minister of Health and Wellness Lemogang Kwape that a nurse stationed at Block 8 clinic who was deployed to screen them has tested positive for coronavirus.
Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) through a press statement expressed their outmost displeasure and disappointment regarding the special parliament proceedings and criticized Director of Health and Wellness Dr Malaki Tshiphiyagae’s stance on the alleged COVID-19 case.
In his daily update Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Lemogang Kwape, had just told the house that Botswana has recorded seven new cases of covid-19. “The case involve a nurse who was based at Block 8 clinic and yesterday was on duty at Parliament session assisting there. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, there is substantial debate around whether the Special parliament should continue to operate.
Botswana Nurses Union would like to make it categorically clear that it understand the symbolic importance of parliament, but under the current situation, the special parliament proceedings cannot go on.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness, through its Director and Minister, has been preaching on the importance of short meetings (2 hours), few people (less than 10), staying home, and 1m distance rule as well as touching faces. These measures apply to everyone including the leadership of this country. Shutting down is therefore a symbolic act especially at a time of national crisis.
BONU also advised Health Director (Tshipayagae) to take a bold decision by giving every single one of the cohort a mask and send them to quarantine as some of them may not all have acquired the infection. The Director should come out clear and stop the meeting immediately as the 2 hours has elapsed. BONU also want to encourage the Director of Health to be consistent with on applying measures of COVID-19 as the disease knows no boundaries.
“We encourage parliament to consider teleconferencing and video conferencing to minimise the risks. Moreover, BONU like to remind Botswana that WHO has advised against politicizing COVID-19.”
In conclusion, Botswana Nurses Union recommends that all members of the cohort to go on mandatory quarantine immediately. The Director of Health and Wellness, Dr Malaki Tshipayagae must step down as he is unfit to lead under trying times like this and failed to protect the parliament including the president of the nation.
BONU advises Batswana to ignore some unfortunate comments by our leadership in current special parliament sitting. Batswana should continue taking necessary precautions such as staying home, minimising non- essential travelling to COVID-19 affected countries, gathering, regular hand washing and maintaining social distancing.
Moreover, the government must provide Nurses and health care workers with proper PPE, transport and quarantine all exposed health care workers. Nevertheless, BONU is already investigating of what really transpired in relation to the case of the infected nurse”, reads the statement from BONU.
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.