- SADC Standby Force is discussing extra funding
- Defence minister says the mission is obtaining “fruitful” results
The government is planning to increase funding allocated to the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) contingent deployed in Mozambique. This comes after the Southern African Development Community agreed at a summit last week to extend its troop deployment in Mozambique where it is helping the government fight an ISIL-linked insurgency in the country’s Cabo Delgado province.
In a telephone interview, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, said the command of the SADC Standby Force is currently discussing whether extra funding should be requested. P134 million was the initial budget allocation for the BDF contingent in the SADC Standby Force in Mozambique.
“A lot of equipment was purchased to enable our soldiers to mount a strong fight against the Islamic insurgency,” Minister Mmusi said. Should they request additional funding, it is unlikely to be as hefty as the original allocation.”
A total of 296 BDF soldiers are a part of the SADC Standby Force in Mozambique. It was deployed for an initial period of two months last July that was subsequently extended to the end of January next year.
“A call was made by SADC to extend our soldiers’ deployment in Mozambique because the exercise was yielding fruit but there was no request to increase the size of the Botswana contingent,” Mmusi.
He added that before the end of next week, the BDF will present a report that should help the government to determine where best to assist. “The decision to extend the stay of our soldiers was taken only last week,” he said. “SADC has been helpful because it has been giving daily allowances to our soldiers. That obviously reduces the burden on the government.”
The P134 million for the BDF contingent is part of a P2.49 billion supplementary budget contained in Financial Paper No. 1 of 2021-2022 that raised heated debate in Parliament.
Presenting a statement on supplementary estimates of expenditure to Parliament, finance minister Peggy Serame said out of the P2.49 billion, P134 million was specifically requested to augment costs of the Mozambique deployment.
“The SADC mission is mandated to support the Mozambique Armed Defence Force to combat acts of terrorism and violent extremism in Cabo Delgado Province, Republic of Mozambique,” she said.
So far one member of the BDF has died while on duty in Mozambique.
During the send-off of the BDF contingent, Masisi disclosed that each SADC member contributing troops would pay its own costs to augment allowances from the SADC Secretariat.