Wednesday, August 23, 2017
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Botswana Defence Force budget reaches $1.35 billion

A BDF CN235.The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) has been allocated P14.8 billion ($1.35 billion) for the National Development Plan 11, which runs from 2017 to 2023.

The BDF budget would account for the biggest expenditure of the overall P22.4 billion budget allocated to the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security for use during the tenure of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11, which is set to run from 2017 to 2023.

The P22.4 billion, which has since been approved without amendment, also covered the equipment and financing needs of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), the Botswana Police Service (BPS) and the Botswana Prison Service (BPS).

Defence, Justice and Security minister Shaw Kgathi said the police and intelligence services would acquire communication and surveillance equipment, vehicles and computer to counter security threats that include cross-border crimes, terrorism, cyber-crime, money-laundering and human trafficking.

The police and intelligence services would also acquire a Closed Circuit Television Camera (CCTV) system that would be set around the city. The Gaborone 'Safer City' project would include a city-wide network of surveillance cameras that would be operated and monitored from a centralised security command centre.

It is not clear how much will be spent on acquiring new equipment for the BDF, but defending the budget in parliament, Kgathi said the BDF needed to acquire new fighter jets "as a long term investment, cost-saving measure considering a multi-role fighter jet that is capable of conducting air-to-air, close air support, reconnaissance and other air-space policing missions."

The minister said the BDF needed new aircraft to replace its current fleet of (US-made F-5) fighter jets in order to meet national security requirements and to capacitate the force to participate in future United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions.

Defending the ministry's decision to acquire 45 APCs or Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), Kgathi said although there were no immediate national security threats, the army needed to be adequately equipped to defend the country should the need arise.

"The peace that this country is enjoying should not lead us to a false sense of ever-lasting security. History has taught us that there is no country that is completely free of (security) threats. This House should not assume that the absence of war in the region means there are no security threats and conflicts which require deterrence, access denial or defence.

"You can never predict the nature, rate and magnitude of change in the security environment. It is therefore critical for the BDF to acquire the level of capability needed to deal with both fore-seen and unforeseen security environments," he said.

In addition to its national security mandate, Kgathi said the BDF was expected to complement the police and intelligence services in tackling emergent but escalating security threats like terrorism, cyber-crimes and cross-border crimes.

Although Kgathi did not name the supplier of its fighter aircraft requirements, in June this year, former BDF commander Lieutenant-General Gaolathe Galebotswe told the Parliamentary Public Accounts (PAC) that the force was negotiating with Sweden’s Forsvarets Materielvek (FMV) for the acquisition of up 12 second hand Gripen C and D variants.

In May, the BDF was reported by several defence publications to be negotiating for the acquisition of 45 Piranha-3 wheeled infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) from Swiss defence equipment manufacturer General Dynamics European Land Systems-Mowag.

If confirmed, the order would increase the number of Piranhas on the BDF inventory to 90 as it already operates 45 others which were delivered in 2003. However, there was no mention of the BDF's planned acquisition of new radar and air defence systems.

In February this year, a local weekly, 'The Standard' reported that BDF officials had visited French aerial defence systems manufacturer MBDA to witness the testing of its Mistraal and VL Mica air defence systems ahead of possible acquisition.


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