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Tshekedi Khama Sounds And Looks Like A Militia

I try my best to stay away from some of these discussions as my job prohibits me from such engagements. I am convinced that this is rather a mere military commentary.

Tshekedi Khama behaves exactly the way Batswana perceive the entitlement that he harbours. There is paranoia in his conduct.

Though Tshekedi Khama was not directly referring to the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), I am left with no option but to indulge on this matter. As a serving soldier, it is a given that budgets relating to military, security and defence arouses my interest and those of other serving officers.

In his utterances, Tshekedi Khama spits venom in a bid to advocate for his Ministry’s budget to be increased. I particularly read with interest recent newspaper articles in which the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) came under heavy criticism over its request for supplementary funding. It appears making political hay out of the BDF, Police and DIS has become fashionable lately and Tshekedi Khama has subscribed to the bandwagon.

TK is proving an oppositionist. His views should not be confused for a kind of ad hoc statement of good intentions. We have all heard such empty presentations. The military world refers to them as “clap-trap”.

The peasants, who surely would have comprised a large part of his audience, are insulted from the start. He should first begin by addressing the fact that Batswana are not beneficiaries in the tourism sector.

He should then move to tell us his plans with the buffalos making cattle farming a nightmare. The reading of his words is apt to result in a re-evaluation of the received opinions about his harbor of entitlement. He should not use the cover of paying civil servants their due compensations to avoid the ills that are his poor finance management.

We should be concerned with the emergence of the parallel structure in the form of anti-poaching unit, which is now more of a military outlook. The responsibilities of the intelligence gathering sphere are located within the Military Intelligence unit of the BDF, the DIS and the Botswana police and there is no need to replicate the structures. The Wildlife Department must remain just that; to cure ailing wild animals, to provide water in droughts activities, to research on species, to ensure the safety of civilians living within wildlife infested areas and to ensure the general safety and welfare of wildlife.

The anti-poaching unit must on the other hand patrol the forests and protect wildlife against poachers. Contrary to popular belief, most of the poaching is not done by some armed poachers. My experience in the military has taught me that poaching is more done not for horns or trophies but rather for food by locals. TK cannot then justify equipping the anti-poaching unit with warfare equipment that even the BDF does not have.

Though our seniors here at BDF do not say it loud, behind closed doors, concerns are primarily that TK has resolved on some military wing masquerading as an anti-poaching unit. The quantities and models of military equipment he continues to purchase is even beyond the BDF itself. In military world, his is a strange pose of preparing for civil war.

To make matters worse, the officers entrusted with the acquisition he acquires are just like guerilla fighters, ill trained to handle such. Only a handful who have been recruited from the BDF and the DIS are within capability to take care of the military equipment TK continues to acquire. TK is to us as soldiers, a shocking discovery with such a romantic image and such a huge following yet turns out to be a fraud.His approach and style of request for additional funding is simply a confirmation that he is just a spoilt brat banking on being

the son of the first president of the country. This tendency must be arrested before it gets out of hand. TK must also divorce defence, security and intelligence institutions from politics. He is amongst those MPs who push us beyond limits to end up commenting on political issues. I have heard same views, in other instances contradicting themselves. Whilst when a military-based accident is reported and they nod the opportunity to describe the appalling quality of BDF artillery, they also complain when the BDF is allocated budget to replace its ageing fleet, artillery and the necessary machinery. TK on the other hand is saying he should be given money meant for DIS.

TK’s all out offensive against the supplementary request of the DIS on the grounds that it will be a misplaced priority over compensation for damage caused by wildlife is nonsensical. TK should be reminded that he is the last person to preach to anyone about misplaced priorities. For a good part of last year (2016) the Minister’s name featured prominently in the reports for reckless wastage of public funds on unnecessary projects, worse enough without proper authorisation.  I am not disclosing anything confidential as it is now public knowledge that TK spent millions of Pula on a jet aircraft that is not at all a priority in doing the work of his Ministry.

This is the same Minister who confessed to Parliament that he had intended to spend millions of Pula on a tourism marketing office in Dubai. These are the millions he should have used to compensate the people if he valued their lives so much. TK is basically saying that the civilians whose lives have been taken by wildlife and those who need compensation only matter to him if resourcing the DIS is brought into the picture. TK has ample time to look into his budget needs and to reconsider what appears to be building a third army in Botswana under the disguise of resourcing the newly established anti poaching unit.  He should divert the monies he is using to acquire heavy military machinery to rather compensate civilians what is due to them.

As a military officer with an insight into intelligence work and its sensitivity, I am rather annoyed by politicians whose noise has reached a new decibel level when it comes to discussing the DIS funding request, one can’t help but wonder what the obsession with the DIS is all about.

The DIS mandate is clearly provided for under the Intelligence and Security Act, 2007. What is it that these people do or want to do that is likely to put them in a collision cause with the DIS? Are they involved or planning to involve themselves in activities that are a threat to our national security?  Should we be worried that the heavy arming of the anti-poaching unit by TK is the beginning on a long nightmare.It maybe high time the Police, DIS and the Military Intelligence unit takes a closer look at these characters and their associates as they maybe wolves in sheepskin. Threats to Botswana’s national security and interests are real and we do not require a rocket scientist to convince us on this.

As such the DIS, the BDF and the Police must be adequately resourced to effectively tackle these threats. We should view with suspicion some of these people who are so violently opposed to the security, intelligence and defence organs being adequately funded. And those who look, smells and sound like militias must be treated as thus.

Concerned Soldier,

Lieutenant Godfrey Letsholo

Glen Valley Barracks

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