Botswana has listed the defence and security sector as among the five priority spending areas that will share the bulk of the P66.9 billion ($6 billion) 2018/19 budget, a top official has said. The country is seeking a variety of military hardware, from air boats to fighter jets.
In an expenditure estimate sheet presented at a pre-budget seminar that examined government spending priorities for the 2018/2019 financial year beginning March 2018, Finance and Economic Development Minister Kenneth Matambo said the security sector will receive more to fund the upgrading of equipment to enhance national security.
“Government, through National Development Plan 11, committed to implement strategies to safeguard territorial integrity and sovereignty and ensure public safety and protection. The nature of operations of the safety and security agencies makes its inevitable to invest in infrastructure development in order to realise the goals envisaged under the national priority area,” Matambo said.
The money will be spent on upgrading equipment, training as well as construction of more security and accommodation facilities for the police force.
The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is expected to continue with the acquisition of new equipment, specifically fighter/trainer aircraft, aerial defence systems, tanks and armoured personnel carriers.
Gaborone-based daily newspaper Mmegi quoted Economic and Financial Policy secretary Taufila Nyamadzabo as saying, “as a country, you must feel protected and people have been saying you are spending too much on defence, but it is also a form of insurance. That equipment has to be replaced over time. They have to replace worn out equipment to be able to work properly.”
Last year the BDF was allocated P14.8 billion ($1.35 billion) for the National Development Plan 11, which runs from 2017 to 2023.
Botswana is seeking to acquire fighter jets, and has reportedly expressed interest in a dozen second hand Saab Gripens or Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50s. The fighter jet acquisition is the latest in the country’s defence modernisation effort. For instance, Botswana purchased €304.2 million worth of military hardware from France in 2016, including MICA-VL and Mistral missiles.
Other procurements include a $179 million deal for 45 Piranha 3 armoured vehicles from Swiss company GDELS-Mowag.
The BDF is looking to acquire ten air boats and ten trailers over a three year period. In a tender document dating from August, the Ministerial Tender Committee said it was looking for the “supply and delivery of air boats to BDF”.
The document calls for the supply of 7 x 2.5 metre “tour boat” and 5 x 2.5 metre “classic hull” boats, powered by 850 hp fuel injected engines. They are to be military green in colour and carry approximately ten people. Additional equipment includes a life ring, flare gun, searchlight, paddles etc.
Meanwhile, the Botswana Police Service (BPS) has ordered seven specialized crowd control vehicles from a South African manufacturer.
Acting Police Commissioner Tapudzani Gabolekwe told the weekly Sunday Standard last month that the vehicles, worth more than P2 million, would replace an ageing and worn down fleet that is more than 25 years old.
“It is true that these (our current anti-riot) vehicles are very old and slow. They need to be phased out so that they don’t become too expensive to maintain. They are too old, costly and often break down,” he said.