BDF allays fears over civil war threats

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  • Ex-spy chief threatens to topple government
  • BDF says they are forever ready for anything
  • Commander says he doesn’t want to make comments on political standoff


The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) whose mission is to defend the country’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and national interest has poured scorn on the escalating civil war threats ascribed to the current political standoff saying they do not anticipate any civil war as claimed by some analysts.

When asked for their views on the current political situation that has pitted their Commander in Chief, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and another former president and commander in chief, Ian Khama, the BDF said “the commander cannot express his political opinion as requested since it is not the mandate of the BDF.”

The Commander is bound by the provision of section 150 and 151 to maintain an apolitical status. Albeit that the BDF is obliged to be loyal to the government of the day.

Theories that Botswana may plunge into a political crisis that may lead to a civil war or political unrest have been doing the rounds since Khama and his successor started skirmishing in public about their differences. There are ongoing attempts by the Khama faction to unseat Masisi and Khama is on record saying he regrets giving Masisi the baton. This week former army commando and now the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Peter Magosi arrested, his predecessor, Colonel Isaac Kgosi who is also a former army colonel over tax evasion charges. Kgosi who is the blue-eyed man of Lt Gen Ian Khama, the former army commander has since vowed to topple the government in a shocking revelation which Magosi says has not fallen on deaf ears.

The BDF says they have not moved to warn the elders of the possible repercussions of their conduct and have also not participated in any mediation efforts to stir harmony between the two, because “that will be tantamount to partisan politics.”

The army however allayed fears of a civil war saying “the BDF is not aware of any war taking centre stage in Botswana.” They however calmed the nation saying they remain vigilant of anything that may ensue as per their mandate. “However as a professional Defence Force, the BDF is organized, trained and equipped to pursue its mandate at any given time,” responded the BDF.

Early last year Masisi withdrew arms of war from the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife led by Khama’s brother-Tshekedi who has since been redeployed to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.

The permanent secretary to the president, Carter Morupisi said the Department of Wildlife and National Parks was not mandated to partake in any armed military activities. He did not discuss how the department had procured military weapons in the first place.

Around the same time, an instruction was made to the BDF to ban Ian Khama from flying army aircrafts. A BDF savingram directing all Air Arm units that Khama must never again fly BDF aircraft as crew was leaked and became a subject of national discourse for a while.

Last week in a search at Kgosi’s homes three pistols which are now subject of scrutiny were discovered by the DIS agents. The political bickering by some suggests this has thrown the country into a ‘vuca’ environment-– Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.