Members of Parliament (MPs) have called on the government to reconsider buying new equipment for Botswana Defence Force (BDF).
When debating the budget for Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security yesterday, Kanye North MP Abram Kesupile said most of the equipment used by soldiers is very old, which compromises the security of the country.
“Most of the equipment, including vehicles, guns and aircraft are very old. There is need for government to consider buying new equipment.
“I was in the parliamentary committee for this ministry and I know what I am talking about.
“The situation at BDF camps is not pleasing at all. The government should have a plan of five to 10 years in which it would buy new equipment for BDF,” Kesupile said.
He said the government should also look into building a military academy in the country.
“There is a proper plan that was done for the academy and I believe this is the right time for the government to consider building one. Our children cannot afford to be trained in the bush all the time,” he said.
The MP also said the minister should equip police officers to deal with crime any time of the day, including arming them. He said police officers risk their lives arresting armed robbers using knobkerries.
“The situation has changed on the ground because robbers cannot be negotiated with. If the robbers use guns then our officers should also be armed because they are going to be shot at,” he said.
Mahalapye West MP Joseph Molefhe shared the same sentiments that there is urgent need to equip security agencies, as well as review the welfare of soldiers.
“There is need for this issue to be resolved. Married people are still sharing houses with single ones. Some of the houses need to be renovated,” Molefhe said.
Another MP Gabane/Mmankgodi Pius Mokgware asked the minister to relook into issues of BDF members who had taken government to court.
“This is very dangerous for our security. We cannot have a situation where we are having unhappy soldiers. There is the BDF council where issues of BDF members are supposed to be handled.
“These issues should be resolved amicably without oppressing anyone. We have BDF members whose 10 year contracts had ended, but government have not paid them their money without any explanation,” Mokgware said. He said if the government does not address grievances raised by BDF members the consequences could be devastating for the security of the country. He added that the welfare of police officers, and prison warders is also very important. The BDF has been allocated approximately P1.1 billion for the development budget that will cover procurement of aircraft, vehicles, communications and other military equipment.