Botswana: Makgalemele, Batshu Refute Opposition Claims

| February 11, 2016

By Thelma Khunwane

Gaborone - Some Members of Parliament have refuted claims by some opposition members that the government's spending on the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, particularly on the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), was irresponsible.

The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Mr Kenneth Matambo had on February 1, indicated that the defence, justice and security ministry would take the largest share of P3.59 billion of the P14.82 billion development budget proposed for the 2016/17 financial year.

Minister Matambo had said the proposed budget for the ministry would cater for provision of defence and communication equipment as well as infrastructure in order to improve the BDF's defence capabilities.

It was also indicated that the proposed budget would cater for the construction of police stations at Mmathubudukwane, Maitengwe and Semolale as well as staff houses in different locations in order to improve safety.

Some opposition members had argued that the government's spending on the army aircraft weaponry was wasteful.

Debating the 2016/17 budget speech Tuesday, the MP for Shoshong, Mr Dikgang Makgalemele said it was misleading for members of the opposition to argue that the government was wasting money by spending on the defence ministry.

Mr Makgalemele argued that evidence from the committee supply debates for the 10th and 11th Parliament sessions, showed that there was need to spend more on the BDF, Botswana Police Service and the Botswana Prisons Service.

He said the debates showed that there had always been an outcry that there was need to invest more on the three institutions and address their plight.

He also said it was disturbing and unfair coming from the opposition to complain because what the finance minister presented to Parliament was a response to pleas by members, particularly the opposition.

On poverty and social protection as well as employment programmes, he argued that there had been a significant increase in budget allocations, and that showed that the finance minister's budget over the years presented immerse opportunities for the poor as well as job creation.

He stated that, as such, the government would continue with its efforts to eradicate abject poverty in the next financial year.

On the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP), Mr Makgalemele said the initiative had gone beyond its main agenda, and that as government they would be able to re-engineer and put in place initiatives geared towards its success.

The ESP, he added, also presented many opportunities for job creation hence the decision by the government to manufacture some of the products that the country had been importing. He urged MPs to promote local products so that they were locally produced.

On the other hand, Nkange MP, Mr Edwin Batshu also argued that it was disappointing that some members of the opposition continued to complain about the proposed allocation for the security forces.Mr Batshu argued that it should be understood that security equipment changed over time owing to modern technologies.

"It will be irresponsible for the government not to equip the BDF with the right machinery or build police stations in other parts of the country. This is meant to increase safety of Batswana," he said.

As such, he noted that the government would continue to allocate funds that would cater for the right machinery as well as improve conditions of service for the security forces.

On other issues, Mr Batshu said Batswana, including opposition members, had the right to celebrate achievements by the country thus far, as the country would be celebrating 50 years,

He noted that the government had continued to improve education and health, address water and power situations, unemployment as well as fighting corruption in the country.

He added that the contribution by the private sector in the country's economic growth should also be celebrated.

Meanwhile, Mr Batshu also welcomed the ESP, saying while some members also deemed it as "waste," he was happy that it would address some of the challenges in his constituency, particularly, construction of a hospital in Nkange.

For his part , the MP for Bonnington South, Mr Ndaba Gaotlathe stated that even though the country has done well in some areas, there were other areas where it could have performed exceptionally well if things were done well.

In terms of missed opportunities, he said the country has no ability to harness pension resources.

Regarding energy, Mr Gaolathe said if things were done right, this was one area where Botswana could have so much potential and opportunities. He said difficulties faced in the energy sector were caused by lack of proper project implementation.

Source: BOPA

Category: General

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