Indications are work will start this year on construction of a regional logistics depot in Botswana for the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) standby force.
Earlier this month SADC executive secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, visited Rasesa in Botswana for a site inspection ahead of approval of the environmental management plan for the depot. She also met with Rasesa village chief, Rasesa Letshwenyo Rasesa, to discuss developments around the regional logistics depot.
According to a SADC statement, the southern African standby force is one of the building blocks of the African Union’s (AU) African Standby Force (ASF). The purpose of the ASF is to provide the AU with capabilities to respond to conflicts on the African continent through the deployment of peacekeeping forces. These forces are mandated by the AU Constitutive Act to undertake interventions.
“The SADC standby force was officially launched at the 27th ordinary summit of SADC Heads of State and Government in Lusaka, Zambia in August, 2007,” the statement reads, adding the decision to establish an SADC regional logistics depot in Botswana was taken the previous year by SADC Defence Chiefs. This saw Botswana allocate 19 hectares of land in Rasesa within the Kgatleng Tribal Area for the depot.
The SADC standby force, along with the SADC brigade, supports regional peace operations. Its functions, according to the regional bloc’s politics, defence and security organ, are observation and monitoring, peace support, interventions for peace and security restoration at the request of a member state and actions to prevent the spread of conflict or the resurgence of violence after agreements have been reached.
When complete, the regional logistics depot will house general purpose equipment for the military, police and civilian components of the SADC standby force. No completion of construction date is given.
Rasesa is 10km west of Mochudi along the Gaborone/Mahalapye road.
The regional logistics depot along with a regional peacekeeping training centre in Zimbabwe appear to be the only dedicated SADC facilities the standby force has.
“Other national peace support training institutions play a pivotal role in training military commanders, police officers and civilian officials at various levels,” the politics, defence and security organ notes.