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Home » News » General » UDC probes P55million commission in P16 billion BDF deal

UDC probes P55million commission in P16 billion BDF deal

Publishing Date : 06 November, 2017

Author : ALFRED MASOKOLA

The opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is hoping to use the Swedish governance system to find its way into exposing government in a controversial P16 billion fighter jets deal which is being stitched on behalf of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).


Sweden forms part of the Scandinavian and Nordic Countries alongside Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland. The five countries are reputed for having one of the best governance systems in the world which guarantees among others; freedom of information, freedom of the press and most importantly, they are popular for their welfare system which has guaranteed quality life for each and every citizen. In Sweden, all public documents are public, unless it is marked “classified”. While in many other countries, including Botswana documents are not accessible, unless they are published by the government itself.


Every Swedish citizen is entitled by the law to have free access to official documents, in order to encourage the free exchange of opinion and the availability of comprehensive information. The process allows individuals to make requests to the government thorough personal visit, Email, letter, phone call and they will get the answer in a few days.It is this principle that the UDC leader, Duma Boko wants to use to achieve his goal following the petition which was sent to the Swedish government a few months ago.  Boko told the media this week that UDC engaged Swedish ambassador to South Africa, Cecilia Julin for a briefing on the latest development.


Sweden closed its Botswana embassy in 2008, leaving the South African office to also serve its diplomatic missions in Botswana. The opposition leader said the ambassador has revealed that their petition has reached Prime Minister’s office who is still studying it. Boko earlier this year wrote a petition to the Swedish Government titled Botswana Arms race in the midst of poverty, massive unemployment and social inequality. The petition protested Botswana government’s ongoing and planned military spending.


Boko stated that their plea is representative of Botswana's political parties and civil society and they are hoping that the Swedish Parliament will not approve the sale of these fighter jets to the government of the Republic of Botswana as it is not in the national interest to do so. “Our position is that military spending must be kept to the barest minimum, and Botswana's meagre resources should be used to build better infrastructure, such as water and electricity supply, in order attract foreign investment, reduce poverty, unemployment, social inequality and reword labour productivity, especially in the public sector,” he wrote.


According to Boko, they intend to use the Swedish Information Ombudsman to get to the nitty-gritty of fighter jet deal, to get all information regarding the key players. There are reports that high ranking government officials have benefited handsomely from the dealing, pocketing around P55 million is commission. In the petition, Boko argued that the fighter jets deal was a bad transaction and it deviates greatly from the culture of previous spending in military under the presidency of Dr Festus Mogae and the late Sir Ketumile Quett Masire.


“Botswana’s first three Presidents, Seretse Khama (1955-1980) Quett Masire (1980-1998) and Festus Mogae (1998- 2008) although all determined to safeguard Botswana’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty, always put diplomacy above military might. President Quett Masire in particular, ruled Botswana when its territorial integrity and national sovereignty were most at risk from minority ruled South Africa, Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe] and South West Africa [now Namibia].”


“The thinking by these Presidents had always been to keep the military expenditure at the barest minimum and to devote as much financial resources as possible to the national development effort. Having given that background, we now turn to the subject of our petition, namely Botswana’s economically disastrous and totally unjustified arms race.” According to Stockholm International Peace Research (SIPRI), Botswana’s military expenditure increased from US$ 292 million in 1998 to US$ 377 million in 2008 to US$ 436 million in 2015 (at constant 2014 prices and exchanges rates).


Military expenditure has risen two folds from under P15 billion during President Festus Mogae governance to P35 billion under Khama’s presidency. Under the National Development Plan (NDP) 11, P14billion will be allocated to military expenditure, compared to P21 billion in the NDP 10. This takes military spending during Khama’s two national development planning period to P35 billion, nearly P15 billion more than Mogae’s two planning periods.


Military expenditure has become a contentious issue during Khama’s presidency, with opposition legislators stating that it is misplaced and unnecessary.  When presenting the NDP 11 IN 2016, Minister of Finance, Kenneth Matambo shared that the total amount of money used on Defence and Security together during NDP 9 was P15.56 billion whilst P36.77 billion was used in NDP 10, which translates to 4.32 per cent and 3.78 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) respectively.  Out of the total amount, the amount of military expenditure alone during NDP 9 was P9.89 billion or 2.75 per cent of GDP and in NDP 10 the amount was P21.26 billion or 2.18 per cent of GDP.

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