The timing of Botswana security agencies’ decision to procure anti riot gadgets a year ahead of the contentious electronic voting machines (EVMs) 2019 General Elections has raised eyebrows.
Botswana opposition parties have since made it clear that they would not accept the election results at should the EVMs be used. Former ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane has predicted violence during the 2019 elections.
Botswana Defence Force (BDF) has signed a contract with personal protective equipment Imperial Amour for protective gear while the Botswana Police Services (BPS) has received 14 armored personnel carrier (APCs) valued at R53 million from a South African military hardware supplier. Sunday Standard was unable to establish the value of the BDF protective gear..
“Imperial Armour has just executed a contract for Botswana’s military, involving 800 outfits including helmets, vests, trousers and shirts”, states the company on its website.
The company explained that the military vest is specifically designed to withstand the rigors of military life and, to reduce the risk of fatal injury to the vital parts of the human body particularly the chest and lungs against high velocity bullets, minor demolition and grenade fragmentation.”
The company further explained that the military vest has a large area of ballistic cover to ensure maximum protection.
Meanwhile figures from the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), armored vehicles accounted for the highest value of South Africa’s military exports with Botswana receiving 14 vehicles. This is in sharp contrast to information supplied by Deputy Police Commissioner Tapudzani Gabolekwe in an interview with this publication last year that the agency has invested in seven specialized anti riot vehicles worth more than P2 million each.
The APC vehicle is described as “a type of armored fighting vehicle (AFV) designed to transport infantry to the battlefield. APCs are colloquially referred to as ‘battle taxis’ or ‘battle buses’, among other things.”
Botswana Police procured the 14 LM5 APCs from South African based Land Mobility Technologies (LMT) around 2016 years ago. The LM5 is actually the International Armored Group (IAG) JAWS armored personnel carrier that is sold by LMT in Africa, as LMT is the agent for IAG in the SADC region. It is built in the United Arab Emirates.
Defence Web revealed that Denel, the parent company to LMT, stated in its annual report that it had received an order “from a client in Africa for the supply of 14 LM5 APC vehicles over a two-year period. This is a significant step towards expansion into Africa.” The unnamed client is Botswana.
The procurement of these protective and anti riot military hardware has stoked speculation that Botswana’s security agencies are preparing for any possible violence in 2019.
Former BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane has since warned that the Botswana Movement for Democratic Change (BMD) Congress which was marred by violence was precursor to potential violence during the 2019 General Elections.
Ntuane reportedly made the same observation in his report during the BDP congress held in Tonota citing the political climate which he said was becoming hostile with the level of intolerance both in the BDP and opposition having reached unprecedented levels.
He would later repeat the same observation in a Facebook post.
“Batswana will remember me in 2019. In my secretary general congress report I foretold a violent general election. Preceded by violence at BDP in the run-up to Tonota; now the violence in Bobonong. It is building up to a perfect storm of violence in 2019 at this rate,” he stated.
Botswana National Front has publicly called for a boycott of the 2019 elections if EVMs are used while BCP spokesperson Dithapelo Keorapetse has vowed that he was ready to “pay” with his life should the machines be used.