A Former member of the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) Justice Ramogalana has come out guns blazing condemning the army for failing to look after its military hardware especially Armored Personal Carriers (APC) that he says are being left to rot.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Ramogalana said, “I have been following news reports recently suggesting that BDF will be buying a good number of Armored Personal Carriers and I am not in support of such a move”.
He explained that in 2003, BDF sent a handful of soldiers to Switzerland from technical to gun operator and mechanics for a short course to learn more about APC as Botswana by that time had already purchased about 45 of them from the same country.
He said they were taught everything about the operation of the vehicles but upon arrival in Botswana, they wrote reports which were submitted to the superiors.
He said the following year in 2004, APCs arrived in Botswana from the said country and he was among some of the officers that were assigned to inspect them and submit a report whether they are in indeed brand new or not.
“During the inspection it was discovered that few certain components were missing from the vehicles in which some of my superiors accused me that I should not have mentioned those missing components”.
He revealed that there were strong allegations surrounding the APC as some people were said to have been bribed and rewarded at secret meetings at Molapo Crossing.
He stated that a former Brigadier was informed about the missing components and demanded a report that could have led to the missing components.
“He ordered the team that was behind the purchasing of the APC to inform the dealership about the missing components ÔÇô a process which took almost a month for those components to arrive and be fitted,” he said.
He stated that their engines were required to be run at least twice a week but that never happened because of pettiness on the part of seniors.
By the time he left the army a few years ago the arsenal had started to deteriorate.
The APC were no longer going at the shooting range as it was said that it was expensive for them to go to the range due to the budgetary constraints.
“I am heartbroken about the way BDF has failed to look after such very expensive vehicles, leaving them to rot and such kind of attitude should be condemned in strongest words,” said Ramogalana.
He wondered which country can afford to buy expensive military equipment and not use it.
“I treated those vehicles like my kids because I loved them so much as they fulfilled me. I am fully aware that some people may feel offended that I came out in the open to discuss military issues in the media but the bigger picture is that military hardware should always be taken care off at all times because such equipment is expensive”.
He challenged BDF to hire on-contract retired officers with specialized skills to look after such equipment.
Meanwhile some officers who talked on condition of confidentiality confirmed that BDF will be buying the same Piranhas that they bought around 2004.
They advised BDF to sell the old ones to other countries that could make use of them rather than leaving them in such a bad state.