As harsh winter approaches the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) are alleged to be facing a peculiar problem normally associated with war stricken countries - shortage of uniform. Some serving army officers say they have been waiting for the new uniform for more than two years and are beginning to lose hope. “My uniform is now worn out and is almost two years since I got a new combat uniform and I am worried that winter is going to find us without proper uniform. We have tried to raise the issue with our section leaders to no avail,” said an officer.
The BDF is also experiencing challenges with the issuance of military jerseys since last year which started to lose colour when exposed to the sun or during washing. “I was once shocked when walking around in uniform when a civilian asked me whether we have changed our colours from military green to brown and red pointing at my jersey. When I looked at the jersey I realised that it had changed colours,” said an army officer.
In a response BDF Director of Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Tebo Dikole rebuffed the allegations that the army is experiencing any shortage of winter uniform. Regarding the jerseys which were of poor quality, Dikobe admitted that, “the fact of the matter is that some jerseys delivered to the BDF and issued to some of its members did not meet the prescribed quality standards.”
He said they have since returned the jerseys to the supplier who have committed to supplying the required quality. “Notwithstanding the above, jerseys are not the only winter uniform issued to BDF members,” said Dikole. In the 2015/16 budget BDF got P1, 32 billion of the recurrent budget to spend on security and defence development projects. In 2010 BDF engaged a Chinese firm to supply them with uniform material for mint green officer’s shirts and camouflage for combat uniform to be used by local suppliers in the cut, make and trim (CMT) concept. The army adopted the concept in order to allow local companies to design their uniforms without worrying about buying materials. The army officers interviewed said that they fear that they might face harsh winter conditions as there is no sign they will get the new uniforms especially jerseys in time.