Leader of Opposition in parliament who is also president of the main opposition party, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Duma Boko has characterised President Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s military expenditure as having a possibility of triggering an arms race in the sub region.
Boko stated this on Wednesday as part of his response to Khama’s State of the Nation Address delivered on Monday. He stated that during both Khama’s tenures in the army and as head of state; he presided over extremely wasteful and ill-advised military expenditure.
He further alleged that expensive military hardware that bled the country hundreds of millions of Pula is gathering dust in the armouries of Botswana Defence Force (BDF):
“There is, as we speak, over 500 tons of Mark 82 bombs and F5 Rockets that have gone past both their operational and shelf life without ever being used. This is military equipment that has set the country back by over 300 million Pula. It is money gone to waste while our people are down in the dumps, catching hell.”
Boko continued: “He is the same person who nearly sparked off an arms race in the region by seeking to purchase F4 Phantom fighter aircraft, with inflight refuelling capability, from Turkey, an acquisition that was prevented when South Africa raised alarm.”
“It means they can go from here to DRC. Who are we trying to impress? What it can only do is trigger an arms race in the region. It’s extremely dangerous. It renders the whole region volatile,” he said. Boko who likened Khama to an emperor claimed that the BDF has 8 Bell 412 helicopters, three of which are set aside for the president’s exclusive use.
“These are the H 04, which is an Augusta Bell, the H 07 and the H 08. These are very modern helicopters available for his exclusive use.” He continued: “Yet what does this emperor do? At a time when the country is facing economic hardship which results in closures of mines and massive job losses, he purchases an EC 225 Supa Puma helicopter for his own exclusive use and enjoyment.
Our people are caught up in the death grip of poverty and unemployment, yet their president is abusing their resources on himself and his eccentricities. State owned enterprises are retrenching and sending many people into a bleak future, and our president is busy feeding his frenzy and satisfying his extravagant pastimes; buying a luxury helicopter for over 300 million Pula!”
He further stated that the cost of transporting the helicopter to Botswana in the Antonov aircraft that brought it here was well over 5 million Pula. He continued to say that as if that was not enough, Khama then took over 10 Billion Pula and applied it to the purchase of Grippen Fighter jets that the country does not need.
“A single Gripen jet equates to the combat power of a whole battalion. Such combat power and capability is not only totally unnecessary, it is prohibitively expensive, considering we will never get to use it unless our belligerent conduct angers our neighbours and triggers an arms race that will leave the security situation in the region highly volatile and dangerous.”
Boko further stated that when Khama ascended to the presidium on April 1st in 2008, he inherited a country whose institutions were genuinely the envy of the world. He stated that while they were not perfect his predecessors bequeathed to him a sound foundation from which it was possible to build world class institutions which would transform the country’s socio economic and political fortunes.
He said that what happened next, however, is that the Khama regime chose to squander the advantages handed to it, “and offered us a dead-end disguised as a path. In many ways our nation is worse off today than it was when the current administration took over the reins.”
Boko further noted that Khama does not bear the blame alone stating that all those who comprised his team are equally culpable. “All those who elected to be safe and cozy in their timorous silence are equally to blame,” Boko levelled the accusation.
Boko further continued to state that the Khama administration is either reluctant or unwilling to set any targets for itself.
“To date no one knows how many jobs the administration hopes to catalyse each year during the 11th Development Plan period; no one knows how many engineers, artisans or technicians the administration hopes to churn out; how many professionals, business people and other experts our immigration system will grant residence to assist our economy to grow. No one wants to commit to just how much and by what order of magnitude to diversify our economy as well as our export base.”
He also further stated that the executive branch of government thrives on projecting to the outside world an image of a well-functioning, three-arm democratic set up when in reality it has weakened the other two arms.
He explained this by stating that the country’s parliament by tradition reports to the Office of the President, and has no budget office of its own or fully fledged bill-drafting units. He also stated that parliament of Botswana cannot make its own economic projections or carry out its own sector impact studies.
According to him, the unfortunate reality is that even the ruling party back bench lacks the courage to exercise frank and plain speech, except sometimes for Francistown MP, Ignatius Moswaane and ruling party Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay, whose position as Chief Whip is however under threat.
He further described the executive branch as an albatross that chokes the other branches and lacks any commitment to genuine democratic ideals and practices. “The consequences of this imbalance are dire: an unaccountable and incompetent Government that lacks the will and disposition to transform the lives of our people,” he said
He also waded into the contentious topic of the four suspended High Court judges, when he said, “Does the fact of their favourable treatment by the same President that suspended their brethren not compromise them and render them favourably disposed toward the executive in some quid pro quo? How can the ordinary citizen or any litigant trust such a judiciary to dispense justice without fear and without reproach?”
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.