Botswana’ s northern blues are expected to be busy as about 40 different military aircrafts from Southern African Development Community (SADC) Members States will fly the skies for the SADC Multinational Aviation Exercise from June 20-25 this year. Eight hundred and eighty seven military personnel have been pledged to the country for the coming SADC Exercise.
The first SADC military aviation exercise, dubbed “Exercise Blue Okavango” is billed for the Okavango wetlands, and is sequel to Exercise Blue Zambezi of Angola held in 2013 and Exercise Blue Cluster of South Africa held in 2011.
The aviation exercises are an ideal product of the SADC Aviation Standing Committee which sought to bring solutions and preparedness to natural disasters member states are prone to. SADC member states are regularly challenged with issues like droughts, floods among others which the committee believes member states should be trained on how to be ready when time for such disaster comes. The exercise happens rotationally in all the 15 SADC countries after every two (2) years.
Though Botswana has not yet faced such serious cases of natural disasters, the country especially in its northern side within Ngamiland district occasionally face challenges of floods during rainy seasons. Studies also have indicated that Ngamiland is among the district affected by poverty, the district is reported to be the second poorest after Kgalagadi district.
Military personnel of all the 15 SADC member states being Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe this week converged in Botswana, Maun for the final planning conference for the exercise. The countries are finalising their plans for the exercise which among them includes ironing out and finalizing their manning equipments lists, exercise concept, the legal parameters through the status of force agreements.
The conference was the third and last held in Botswana after the initial planning conference was held in March 2015 followed by the main planning conference which was also held last month.
According to the Exercise Director, also Deputy Air Commander of Botswana Defence Force, Brigadier Innocent Phatshwane the exercise is envisaged to enhance the SADC Air Forces capacity to plan and conduct combined joint operations, humanitarian support and disaster relief initiatives.
“This exercise will also provide a golden opportunity for our air forces to develop mutual understanding and exchange of skills and knowledge between our personnel,’ Phatshwane added. Phatshwane furthered that this is in tandem with the broader aims and objectives of SADC regarding attainment of regional peace, security and stability through cooperation by various member states.
It is understood that SADC multinational forces will also undertake medical outreach projects in Maun, Shakawe, Seronga and other surrounding villages; this according to the exercise Director is to show commitment in providing assistance to the local people.
During the five day operation of Exercise Blue Okavango according to BDF’s Col Segolane Sebenyane, Chairman of the Co-planning Team goods (foods and other necessary needs) will be airlifted and transported by aircrafts from Gaborone to Maun, where they will proceed to be transported to Shakawe, Gumare, Seronga and other surrounding villages.
The Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni says the search to appoint the Ombudsman and other critical heads of department is currently ongoing and the process is expected to be completed before end of the year.
The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.
Two Batswana nationals have been arrested in Zimbabwe for illegal trade in mercury. The duo is being held together with a Zimbabwean national who is being questioned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
This publication understands that the suspects who are aged between 39 and 56 years hail from Tutume and Selebi-Phikwe. At the time of the arrest, they were found in possession of a pistol, bomb motor and four live rounds. It is understood that the suspects told investigators during interrogation that the deadly substance has a lucrative market in Far East countries, where the demand is high. It is further reported that the suspects claimed that the mercury can be easily accessed in mines through middleman.
The Namibian Lives Matter Movement has weighed in on the looming border dispute between their country and Botswana.
Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.”