Wednesday, October 20, 2021

UDC halts Botswana-Swedish arms deal?

The opposition parties’ alliance – the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has said that its intervention on the bid by Botswana government to procure fighter jets from Sweden has resulted in an immediate suspension of the deal between the two countries.

The coalition leader, Duma Boko made the revelations in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon when responding to the 2018/19 national budget presented by Finance minister Kenneth Matambo recently.

Boko said that his party is aware that because of the intervention they made in by engaging the Swedish Government directly, it (Swedish Government) has since declared that it would not want to get involved in encouraging an arms race in the region.

“The Swedish government has maintained that the jet fighters, if they are to be acquired from Sweden will not be configured to carry and launch missiles and has scaled down the type of weaponry they would carry.  We are aware that this has stalled the deal with the possibility that President Khama will vacate the Presidency before this deal is concluded, affording the incoming President, unless he be merely a stooge or alter ego of his predecessor, an opportunity to cancel this deal altogether and return the country to fiscal sanity”, Boko said.

Boko’s sentiments follow a Monday announcement by Matambo in which he said a budget allocation of P2.78 billion or 14.4 percent has been allocated to the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security with part of the money eyed for the purchase of the fighter jets during the 2018/19 financial year.

The decision to go ahead with the purchase of Gripens comes at a time when the country is faced with high unemployment rate as well as low ages amongst middle class workers at both government enclave and private sector.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper