Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Police preparing for 2019 election violence – claims

Botswana Police Service (BPS) has invested in seven specialized anti riot vehicles worth more than P2 million each allegedly as part of their preparation for possible civil unrest during the 2019 general elections.

Acting Police Commissioner, Tapudzani Gabolekwe confirmed this week that BPS has bought seven specialized vehicles meant to be used during riots. He told Sunday Standard that police anti-riots vehicles are in a bad condition explaining that their fleet is more than 25 years old.

 “It is true that these vehicles are very old and slowly and surely they need to be phased out so that they don’t become too expensive to maintain as the more they become too old the more they are costly and often break down,” he said. Gabolekwe said it was crucial that BPS should have the right equipment for specific assignment and at the right time.

He said last November BPS signed a contract with a certain South African company to supply them with the specialized vehicles at cost of P15m. The BPS was expecting to have the vehicles delivered sometime last month but the supplier failed to meet the agreed deadline.

A source close to BPS however told Sunday Standard that there are fears the 2019 general elections may erupt into civil unrests and the police service is being mobilised to prepare for the worst.

Former Botswana Democratic Party Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane in his report to the party congress earlier this year warned of unprecedented violence in the history of Botswana in the build up towards the 2019 General Elections.

In a recent Facebook post Ntuane stated that, “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.”

At the BDP Congress in Tonota, it was reported that the party had received an unprecedented number of petitions regarding delegates’ selections in the lead up to the congress which indicated heightened tensions between camps which were contesting for central committee positions.
The party also heard that there was an increase in the number of disciplinary cases which points to a fact that a growing number of members may be losing their way in the heat of tense political moments. “As the ruling party that has overseen the peace and tranquillity in Botswana for the last 50 years, we cannot turn a blind eye to growing hostilities within and between various political parties,” said Ntuane. “If left unchecked, this nation will someday find itself embroiled in political violence that we never thought possible”, Ntuane was quoted saying in the media.
He pointed out that early signs such as toxic language on radios, hostile altercations at bye-elections meant that more could be coming.

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