Former President Festus Mogae is expected to talk President Mokgweetsi Masisi out of the P18 billion Grippen fighter jets deal which he has chaffed as Khama’s boyhood dream.
Mogae who did not hide his contempt for Khama was quoted in the Swedish media disparaging his successor as an “odugling,” (Swedish for a failure or incompetent person) who “wanted to buy aircraft for 17 billion without the question being discussed in parliament.”
Mogae was quoted in the Aftonbladet newspaper saying this was “not surprising because Khama is a ruler, not a president.” Mogae was further quoted saying, “Ian Khama has just tried to fulfil his boyhood dream with Gripen fighter jets. The country does not need them. When Ian Khama was my vice president, he would fly our own aircraft.”
Mogae was breaking his silence over Khama’s decision to negotiate the multibillion Pula Gripen fighter jets deal with the Swedish government and wants it to be cancelled.
Reports indicate that the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, a civilian governmental agency acting under the Ministry of Defence submitted its first quote in December 2016, but there is no schedule for when the deal will be completed.
Responding to Sunday Standard queries, Press Officer at Swedish Defence Ministry Marinette Nyh Radebo said “The Botswana government has requested information concerning the Gripen aircraft. The Swedish government has authorized the responsible agency, the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, to negotiate a Gripen aircraft contract with Botswana.”
Mogae however insists that the probability that Botswana would even need Gripen fighter jets is zero.
Mogae is further quoted saying that Khama spent millions to spy on his enemies and is obsessed with weapons. Mogae and his predessessor, the late Sir Ketumile Masire are understood to be among the many victims of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security services harassment. Sources close to the Mogae family reveal that his house was once broken into allegedly by the DISS and a laptop and cellular phone belonging to his daughter stolen. His daughter regularly contributes analytical and hard hitting articles to the Sunday Standard.
The DISS also allegedly planned to install surveillance cameras and wire taps at former President Ketumile Masire’s official residence to keep tabs on him and eavesdrop on his private conversations.
As source inside the DISS told Sunday Standard that the DISS seized an opportunity to beef up their survellace of Masire in 2014 when his official residence was being refurbished.
It is understood that Masire had been on the intelligence watch-list for some time, but the spy agency decided to beef their surveillance after the former president’s speech at Gomolemo Motswaledi’s funeral, which the Botswana Democratic Party command felt was subversive.
Mogae’s Private Secretary, Rhee Hetanang confirmed receiving a copy of Mogae’s interview with the Swedish publication, but had not responded to Sunday Standard queries at the time of going to press.
Sunday Standard sought to establish among others, if the former President would engage President Masisi on the matter and why he believes the deal should be cancelled.
The Swedish media quotes several high-ranking members among them government party members have also expressed concern that Sweden is about to be pulled into a weapons business deal as dubious as the South African armsgate and the 80’s Bofors business scandal in India. Sweden wants to dump their old Gripen fighter jets on Botswana to raise money to develop the next-generation aircraft, the Swedish media has reported.
Responding to Sunday Standard earlier enquiries, a researcher at SIPRI, Dr Nan Tian, said in terms of regional threats, there are no new developments that would warrant an increase of military spending by Botswana. “The government has mentioned the reason behind the spending to be military modernisation, but the question remains for what purpose do Batswana need to modernise their military?” asked Tian.
“Is their equipment at a point where it needs to be modernised? Also, is there a potential threat which means Botswana need to modernise? In terms of evidence to back these two claims, from our data, it would suggest not to be the case,” he said.