Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko said that the continued high expenditure on military equipment by the Government of Botswana is a potential threat to the current peace in the region.
Boko said it is now a trend that in every budget speech the Ministry of Defence Justice and Security is allocates a huge chunk of the country’s budget only to be used on unnecessary military purchases like buying military fighter jets when the country is at its utmost peace.
The Leader of Opposition was speaking at a combined Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change Press briefing on Thursday.
The Press briefing follows the formal agreements between the two parties on how they will work together during by-elections. Both parties are expected to sign a memorandum of agreement on the 13th of this month.
Boko who is also Bonnington North Member of Parliament’s submissions arise from the recently allocated P4.95 billion or 13.4 percent of the development budget to Ministry of Defence Justice and Security. The budget is to cater for among other things operational costs for the Botswana Defence Force, Botswana Police Service and Botswana Prisons Services.
UDC president said it would make much sense if the BDF budget was channelled towards addressing the welfare of soldiers, adding that buying fighter jets would seem more like Botswana is readying itself for war and that might make countries in the region uncomfortable.
Boko further said the BDF lack basic equipment but was quick to buy fighter jets, “our army does not have night vision equipments, those are the basic needs rather than purchasing fighter jets,” he said adding that these purchases are just excuses from those with authority to engage in corruption.
In his response to Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo’s Budget speech UDC leader emphasized that when his party take over they would immediately cancel the order of army aircrafts.
“We would re-direct some of this money away from aircraft and towards a range of high impact uses including more improved equipment and living conditions for the army,” he said. Boko said this should save billions of Pula per year, a good portion of which would be re-directed for not only a more professional, equipped and highly motivated army and police forces, but for other development initiatives as well.
Reached for comment, Defence Justice and Security Minister Shaw Kgathi told this publication that he will accordingly reply to Boko’s submissions in Parliament.