The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is disappointed with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan LĂ¶fven who dismissed a petition by the opposition bloc against governmentâ€™s planned purchase of fighter jets.
“The prime minister should listen to his conscience,” a fuming UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa charged. “We believe his words are not representative of the people of Sweden. Nobody can justify expenditure of that magnitude on arms (of war) while 6,000 people lost their jobs, health facilities are not up to standard, education is suffering and the young people are jobless.” Mohwasa said the UDC is yet to meet and develop a position in response to Löfven’s attitude towards their petition. He said the bloc would however not stop speaking out on the issue. Recently, UDC president, Duma Boko wrote a petition to the Swedish government entitled, ‘Botswana Arms Race in the Midst of Poverty, Massive Unemployment and Social Inequality’.
The petition protested the government’s ongoing and planned military spending. In the petition, Boko said as the current regime was left with barely two years to the next general elections, it was committing the country to massive military spending which was both “irresponsible and immoral”. “With the next elections in 2019, and President Ian Khama in the last few months of his last term in office and due to retire on March 3l, 2018, even the mandate on which this unjustifiable military spending is pursued is highly weak and suspect,” Boko wrote.
Löfven told a press briefing he hosted alongside Khama on Monday that Sweden would not make any attempts to stop Botswana from spending on military purchases. “We cannot interfere on how other countries spend their money. It is important to have a strong military to protect your growing economy. We cannot stop you as we are also in the process of purchasing military equipment to strengthen our security,” he said.
President Khama, who has never hosted a press conference for Botswana journalists, told the Swedish media that the expenditure was vital as the Botswana Defence Force was overdue for re-fleeting. He said this was necessary to protect the country’s developing economy.