KHAMA’S PRIORITIES ARE WRONG

KHAMA’S PRIORITIES ARE WRONG

His supporters can defend him all they want but the truth is President Dr. Khama cares more about personal benefit than about the future of Batswana. Since he assumed power his priority has been the military and not the social welfare of ordinary Batswana.

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His supporters can defend him all they want but the truth is President Dr. Khama cares more about personal benefit than about the future of Batswana. Since he assumed power his priority has been the military and not the social welfare of ordinary Batswana.

Khama and his government have spent billions of Pula on military hardware but have failed to tackle unemployment with the same passion. His poverty alleviation initiatives spending cannot does not come close to matching the spending he splashes on the military. To make things worse military tenders are secretive and there is no accountability to Batswana, whose money is being squandered on the military.

Spending on the military is not wrong, but are Khama and his administration doing it at the right time and in the right way? Are they doing it for the right reasons? These are some of the questions that every Motswana should ask themselves in order to make an informed opinion. Who benefits from the secrecy that surrounds arms deals? And why is it that as a country that prides itself in its democratic values, do we allow such lack of transparency? We are not talking about the specifications of the equipment to be bought or other secret information (now available on the internet anyway) but about the huge commissions that are paid to companies for doing nothing other than acting as go a between. We are talking about commissions worth millions, paid from tax payers money that benefit a handful of private companies whose shareholdings are protected under irrational claims of “national security”.

Khama is failing to coordinate Botswana security agencies (forces) so that they complement each other to avoid unnecessary spending. Yet each military transaction deprives Batswana of much needs revenue for social development. Wildlife under his brother Tshekedi Khama is buying military hardware like there is no tomorrow, whilst on the other hand DISS is also purchasing military equipment similar, if not the same as other security organs. It’s a competition amongst them and Batswana’s money is being wasted in the process.

The rush to get jets by different agencies that can share is just a sign that Khama is failing to curb reckless spending in his government. Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Botswana Police Service (BPS) previously shared resources and are still doing so, in a cost effective measure that is of benefit to the nation. It doesn’t make sense that after the individual agencies spend exorbitant amounts they turn to the BDF and BPS personnel for anti-poaching and crime fighting at large. Huge chunk of the budget cannot be reserved for the military whilst there are so many challenges that do not need the army or police to solve.

Unemployment especially with the youth is spiraling out of control and government has no answer to it because its focus it’s on military hardware. Less than 20 percent of graduates get employed, whilst the rest join the streets or stay under shades doing nothing. Well educated young Batswana are forced into conditions of employment that are tantamount to slavery due to lack of real employment opportunities. Graduates have given up on finding jobs and have relegated themselves to Ipelegeng. Not only are graduates suffering whilst the regime is busy with its military acquisition, government spending has drastically been reduced hitting the business community hard. The majority of local businesses are on life support. Government is the dominant player in the local market and it is impossible that reduced spending cannot negatively impact on the private sector.

Botswana has experienced a heavy rainy season where roads are washed out and shell shocked with potholes but instead of prioritizing repairing damaged infrastructure, Khama goes to the military market to splash more on economically non beneficial military equipment. Our roads are bad and connectivity across the country continues to be a challenge. One of the strategic roads between Francistown and Nata is in bad shape. This road is the gateway to the greater Africa used by most trucks ferrying goods to Zambia, Namibia and the rest of the continent. In its condition few people are going to use it, negatively affecting business along that corridor that will lead to more unemployment. Hospitals across the country do not have adequate personnel leading to more deaths. In some instances the personnel is there but lack of equipment and medicine is a challenge.

We have greater needs than military acquisitions, in a region known for its peace and stability. We have greater needs for money used to pay huge commissions on military deals. We have greater needs that realistically address security concerns, such as food security, health security and social development than the use of taxpayer’s money on secret deals that lack transparency for the benefit of a small handful of connected people. Military equipment acquisition is simply not a national priority or need.

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Majube covers the economy and public finance. He also manages production. He has worked in various publications in the last ten years, Specialising in Business and Features. He has held the position of Desk Editor at the weekly the Echo, and most recently was part of the award winning Business team at Mmegi. In recent times Majube has covered the liquidity challenges of the financial sector as well as the Bank of Botswana’s oversight role in the banking sector.