Another step on a seemingly endless road to a Southern African Development Community (SADC) logistics depot for its standby force this week saw Botswana officially agree the depot will be built in the landlocked country.
Having a dedicated logistics depot for the regional bloc’s planned standby force first saw the light of day in August 2004. That was when a decision to set up a SADC regional logistics depot (RLD) was taken at a regional bloc Heads of State and Government Summit.
On Thursday (21 October) Botswana’s Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Thomas Mmusi signed an agreement to, in the words of a SADC communique, “host” the RLD on 19 hectares of land at Rasesa following granting of a land lease by then president Ian Khama in 2012.
Rasesa village is 10 km west of Mochudi, on the Gaborone–Mahalapye road, 64 km from Gaborone.
To be built at an expected cost of $45 million and operational in five years, the RLD will be home to warehouses and workshops for materials, equipment and standby stocks allocated to the regional standby force.
It will also have offices and residential components and comprehensive infrastructure including a road network; power, sewage and water as well as security.
“The RLD will provide a central platform for logistics provision and support for the SADC Standby Force,” the SADC statement has it.
Mmusi, Botswana’s minister responsible for defence justice and security is on record as saying the RLD “will guarantee a rapid deployment capability for the SADC Standby Force which will facilitate SADC acting promptly to save lives and prevent crises escalating”.
The recent and still underway deployment of SADC forces from five member states to Mozambique as the SAMIN (SADC Mission in Mozambique) demonstrated the need for a depot “to mitigate mobilisation challenges best addressed by a fully functional logistics depot to support quick reaction”.