Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is stuck with military equipment which was procured in the past 10 years but has now been rendered useless, The Patriot on Sunday has learnt.
Highly placed sources have revealed that the army is currently conducting an audit on some of the equipment that was procured in the past 10 years through Seleka Springs -a company related to former BDF Commander, Ian Khama. BDF Director of Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Tebo Dikole said like any other organisation, BDF reviews its inventory from time to time based on operational requirements and needs. “Failure to do so would be tantamount to dereliction of duty, as it would not address the security needs of Botswana,” he said.
On what military equipment has been rendered obsolete, Colonel Dikole dismissed the allegation as mere speculation and warned that such claims have the potential to mislead and cause public distress. Probed further, Dikole declined to discuss the matter saying the BDF does not discuss their operations with the media. “The BDF has succinctly stated on numerous occasions that it does not discuss issues which have a bearing on its operational readiness, current and future operations with any third party including the media,” he said.
BDF is allegedly in a delicate position regarding some of the equipment which was supposed to be in good condition at procurement but has since been discovered to be obsolete. It is feared that the army may have been duped to procure useless equipment.
SK 105 tanks, 105mm artillery guns
BDF through Seleka Springs -a company owned by Khama brothers, Tshekedi and Anthony- procured the 50 Steyr SK-105 Kürassier light tank 105mm and Steyr SK105 4K7-FA recovery tanks from Austria in 2001. Since they were procured, the tanks are said to have been neglected although they have clocked very low mileage. The tanks were decommissioned in 2015. The other obsolete military equipment, with questions about the necessity of securing, is the 105 mm artillery guns.
The Office of the President (OP) is said to have instructed Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security to investigate how the tanks were procured and why they were decommissioned.
Land Rover 110 Defenders
In 2017 BDF started receiving second hand Land Rover 110 Defenders from a British company Witham (Specialist Vehicles) Ltd. Although at the time it was claimed that BDF procured the vehicles to the tune of P161.9 million sources within the army have revealed that the vehicles were donated by the British army. “Those Land Rovers were not bought but rather the British army donates to armies in developing countries. The beneficiary has to pay for shipment and other expenses and that cannot shoot up to P161.9 million,” revealed a former senior army officer.
OP is said to have long instituted investigations on why the army spent a lot of money in transporting the vehicles. When the Defender LR110 4×4 SUV arrived in 2017 BDF had already phased them out with the advice of the manufacturer. Asked if this has anything to do with the current political standoff between the current administration of President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor Ian Khama, Colonel Dikole rebutted the allegations as not true.
Meanwhile BDF is expected to host a SADC Special Forces Exercise as part of the SADC Standby Force. “The first exercise of this nature was held in the Republic of South Africa in 2011, code named “Exercise Stalward’ with the last and seventh held in the Republic of Tanzania code named ‘Exercise Matumbawe’ in 2017,” said Dikole.
He said the exercise code named “Exercise Chomela” will be held on a biennial basis going forward.