Sunday, March 3, 2024

Khama lured to pay for Swedish Defence Spending

Botswana is believed to be spending outside the country’s budget in a secretive deal to procure Gripen Jets from Swedish company SAAB.

Speaking at a joint Press Conference on the 19th June, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan L├Âfven lashed out at the “patronising criticism by various actors” of Botswana intended increase in military expenditure. Coming to the aid of President Khama, L├Âfven justified the intended purchase of “one of the best fighter jets in the world,” on the grounds that Sweden is currently increasing its own Military Expenditure.

Sweden, is in need of capital to increase its own defence programme and it has once again turned to Africa to fund its military expenditure, this time Botswana. Khama’s intent on military growth is well known internationally, sources reveal. Khama’s interest in military hardware mark him out as being of particular interest to arms dealers and countries that sell arms. Sweden is ranked the world’s third largest arms exporter per capita after Israel and Russia. 

The Swedish government has come under increasing criticism for its arms deals. Speaking to the Business Insider in 2014, an arms expert Siemon Wezeman, with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed that “Swedes see themselves as very ethical and restrictive when it comes to giving human rights violators or dictators things that help them stay in power. But the reality is that has happened,” adding that “In the last decade or so they’ve been more open to it, because those are the markets.”

The need to raise funding for the Swedish military has led to questionable military sales by the country. Seeking out rich markets for military sales have placed questionable states and governments in Sweden’s radar as the sale of military equipment has become an increasing source of revenue to Sweden. While Swedish law forbids the export of weapons to governments and countries that are involved in on-going military conflict and human rights violations, Swedish authorities, the military and the weapons-export complex led by arms magnate Jacob Wallenberg (who’s family directly and indirectly own 47.6% of SAAB) have sought to make sales of military equipment to governments listed as human rights violators and who are actively engaged in war. In 2013 Sweden represented by Wallenberg and L├Âfven entered into a secret arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal which was widely condemned in Sweden for violating its laws took over three years to cancel. The Swedish Prime Minister has not been immune from other arms deal controversies. In 1999 L├Âfven was the head of Metall’s international section and a close associate of Moses Mayekiso, the former general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa). The Unions in both Sweden and South Africa engaged in a series of transactions which gave rise to the Arms Deal Scandal in South Africa from 1999 onwards. Swedish investigative journalists revealed on the TV show Kalla Fakta allegations of bribery, to the tune of almost R30-million, between Saab and the South African Gripen deal involving South African President Jacob Zuma. The expos├® has raised ethical concerns over the country’s military deals and criticism of its government for selling arms to undemocratic leaders and the nature of the arms sales.

In June 2011, Saab publicly announced that BAE, its marketing partner for the Gripen combat aircraft, had used a Saab subsidiary without its knowledge to pay out bribes to secure components of the South Africa arms deal, including ZAR 24 million between 2003 and 2005.

Sweden located in a region that is becoming increasingly less secure due to both an unpredictable Russia in the Baltic Sea region, and the escalation of terrorism in Europe has embarked on a substantial increase in military expenditure. Concerns over Russia strengthening its military presence within the region, has led parliament to urge Prime Minister Stefan L├Âfven’s government to significantly increase defence spending. SIPRI, reveals that Swedish Armed Forces (SAF) requires an annual budget of up to $9 billion, as a prerequisite for Sweden to meet its procurement targets. The SAF seeks the Swedish government’s eventual capital investment plan to provide $34-44 billion in defence spending over the next five-year Defence Policy Plan. This would amount to $7-9 billion a year, substantially higher than the current level of annual budgetary spending. The lure of revenue from questionable markets remains strong, leading to a growth in the lack of transparency in Swedish arms sales.

Lack of transparency in arms sales and military expenditure, according to Corruption Watch, creates high vulnerability for corruption. The military particularly prone corruption, in both developed and developing countries is increasing open to abuse on grounds of secrecy over national security and lack of parliamentary oversight. Concerns that are prevalent in Botswana. The According to the Leader of the Opposition Duma Boko, in the UDC petition to the Swedish Government, the government has not disclosed the nature of military acquisitions to parliament, contrary to Khama’s claims to the Swedish press. Government according to Boko, seeks instead to obscure the cost of military purchases under a generic budget that encapsulates all security related matters. Boko argued in the petition that the “more recent National Development Plan 1 I (April 2017-Morch 2023), Botswana is planning to spend about 15% of its GDP on what is labelled ‘Territorial Integrity’.” It is estimated that half of this budget will be dedicated to the Swedish Gripen fighter aircraft, manufactured by SAAB.


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