Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Gaolathe raises knife at DISS budget

The Gaborone Bonnington South Member of Parliament, Ndaba Gaolathe, has revised figures of a motion he plans to table to hive away funds from the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).

In order to “strengthen DIS capabilities” and much to the consternation of some, the government plans to go to considerable expense during the National Development Plan 11 to make that happen.

In the motion that he will table, Gaolathe proposes that a total of P832 million should be redirected from DIS to needier areas of the national economy. The breakdown is as follows: P200 million from “DIS Communications”, P102 million from “Computer Equipment”, P300 million from “Infrastructure”, P150 million from “GIS Geospatial”, P30 million from “Security Equipment” and P50 million from “Vehicles”.

In a different context, a freshly-minted the opposition politician has expressed concern about the securitisation of the state that is happening through DIS activities. The speaker was Kenny Kapinga who recently retired from the government after serving a stint as Botswana’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe. Before his redeployment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Kapinga had cut his teeth and made a career in the Botswana Police Service (BPS) rising to the rank of Deputy Commissioner.

For this reason, he would know everything there is to know about the security situation in Botswana. Rather than deal substantively with the point Kapinga made, the Minister of Justice, Defence and Security, Shaw Kgathi, himself a former school teacher, chose to attack the former personally.

Gaolathe’s preference is for Kgathi’s ministry to spend more on BPS by way of “improved facilities and equipment”. To that end, he has increased the latter’s budget by P300 million. Long cash-strapped, the BPS has resorted to dubious policing methods to raise funds and procure the facilities and equipment it desperately needs.

In terms of a recent police operations that seems to have no end date, each police station is supposed to raise P30 000 a day and each police district P30 million a month. Motorists are the main targets because charges for Road Traffic Act offences are very high and the commission of such offences is generally high and in public.

The MP’s motion also takes away money from a DIS sister department ÔÇô the Botswana Defence Force. In the name of what it terms “BDF Development”, the government has been super-generous to the army.

Part of such development includes procurement of fighter jets and associated equipment. Gaolathe’s budget cuts the BDF budget by P9.1 billion. One of the areas that he redirects the money to is “Revival of BCL Mine.” Owing to a depressed copper/nickel market, the mine has shut down indefinitely but Gaolathe believes the government can bring it back on stream with adequate funding that should involve other investors.

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