Chairman of Alliance for Progressives (AP) Maj. Gen. Pius Mokgware says his party will call for a commission of enquiry into the controversial procurement of Land Rovers from the United Kingdom by Botswana Defence Force (BDF). The BDF spent around P161 million for procurement of 500 second-hand Land Rover 110 Defenders.
The procurement of the obsolete vehicles was allegedly spearheaded by Office of the President early last year and BDP played no major role save for viewing and collection at Witham (Specialist Vehicles) Ltd - a UK secondhand seller. The OP has been at the centre of the controversial procurement although it refuted playing part in the agreement to purchase units of the Defender LR110 4×4 SUV for the BDF, at a cost of P161.9 million.
Major Gen Mokgware stated this week that they would seek through a motion in Parliament for an enquiry to be undertaken to establish why the BDF decided to buy such vehicles which are already experiencing breakdowns hardly a year later. “We demand that the recent procurement of very old military equipment be investigated.
We strongly believe that the procurement was not transparent. There are allegations that certain high ranking officers were given similar vehicles by the supplier. This was a waste of government funds,” said the AP chairman who is also Member of Parliament for Gabane-Mankgodi. Maj Gen Mokgware pointed out that should the motion be defeated as they foresee such from Botswana Democratic Party MPs they would seek other avenues.
“We will ask for Parliamentary Committee on Defence and International Relations to intervene and call the Commander or Minister of Defence Justice and Security to explain this mess”. BDF Director, Directorate of Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Tebo Dikole has stated that BDF procured last year what is called EXCESS DEFENCE EQUIPMENT from the United Kingdom (UK) Military. He explained that Excess Defence Equipment is equipment disposed of by an army, in this case the UK Army as a result of downsizing.
“This equipment ranges from never used to hardly used. Some of the Land Rovers were never used and others had mileages that read between 7000km to 50 000km. It is common knowledge that sometimes equipment, whether military or not that has not been in use for a while will likely display some form of minor mechanical faults that require minimal repairs,” said Colonel Dikole in an interview recently with this publication adding that any fleet - new or used - remains susceptible to mechanical failures as well as wear and tear.
Maj Gen Mokgware, a former army man himself, believes it was ill-advised to procure such equipment. He explained that the BDF should be moving with the times and buying appropriate equipment. “What is even painful is that we are wasting such funds while our security officers are disgruntled.
They are no longer promoted and stay in one rank for a long time, their conditions of service are very poor and they do not have accommodation. It is very dangerous to have such people disgruntled because it puts our security as a country at risk,” he explained.