Following the announcement of the 2017 national budget speech by Minister of Finance and Economic Development – Kenneth Matambo, Minister of Defence, Justice and Security – Shaw Kgathi has unequivocally stated the need for more of the national coffers to be allocated to his Ministry.
This has perplexed many corners who argue that Botswana is a peaceful nation that has never been to war and so such an already large proportion of the development budget (16.7% / P2.76 billion) is more than adequate for his Ministry.
However, Kgathi has dismissed this notion as out of hand and is of the belief that Botswana’s defensive capabilities are in constant need of review.
Speaking candidly to Voice Money after the budget speech, Kgathi commented that;
“I hear a very naïve outlook where people are saying we’re not at war. You pay insurance not because you are likely to cause an accident but just to ensure your life. Botswana has invested heavily in terms of the development of peace which many people are taking for granted. Acts of terrorism – we never know, they have no appointments. I want people to know that security comes first.”
The Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security has been allocated the 3rd largest share of the total development budget and the 4th largest share of the recurrent budget.
It was deemed fit to rather prioritise the Ministry of Minerals, Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security as well as the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services with the respective ministries receiving a total of 34.8% of the development budget.
This perhaps is a reasonable move owing to the persistent water and electricity problems that plague the nation but Kgathi still wants more.
“People can just narrowly look at the figures and say you’ve been allocated number 3 in terms of ranking. To me as Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, that money is far from adequate. There is need for security for the magistrates, security for the prosecuting officers who are undergoing a lot of molestation and harassment by some people. Those are the issues we are looking at and we are saying we still need more.” He stated.
When probed if the allocation for defence was so high due to the novice threat of cyber security the Minster responded that;
“We have got the law passed by parliament [that] we’re implementing. These [cyber security] are new versions of crime where you have to retrain and retool the police and the rest of all those within the service of the security.”
Kgathi however, was not the only one disgruntled by the budget speech. Member of Parliament for Phikwe, Dithapelo Keorapetse, lamented the lack of information afforded in the speech.
“One would expect that the Minister would point to new strategies of job creation because that is really what Batswana need. In fact, when you listen to the Minister’s speech, there is absolutely no mention of how many jobs the economy has bled in the last 12 months. We know that people have been losing their jobs in Selebi Phikwe, Tati Nickel and elsewhere. Retrenchments are ensuing but there was nothing in the budget about how many people have lost their jobs as opposed to how many jobs were created in the last 12 months. In terms of poverty eradication, what we just heard is something more like a joke – that they expect to have eradicated poverty by December 2017. How is that possible when people are unemployed?” he asked.