FORMER BDF COMMANDERS SUPPORT DEPLOYMENT TO MOZAMBIQUE “ISIL will fight back and possibly even attack us on home ground,” Mokgware
Botswana Defence Force Commander of Ground Forces, (Rtd) Major General Pius Mokgware, has expressed strong support for the government’s decision to deploy BDF troops to Mozambique to fight terrorism.
Speaking on the backdrop of an announcement by President Mokgweetsi Masisi last week that Botswana, like other SADC countries, will be sending troops to fight ISIL insurgents, Mokgware said the decision is in the best interest of the country.
The announcement to deploy was made by president Masisi upon his return from assessing the situation in Mozambique after ISIL fighters laid siege of a hotel and killed scores of civilians, 12 of whom they beheaded.
The former commander also highlighted that as a SADC member state, Botswana is a signitary to the SADC protocol on Politcs, Defence and Security Cooperation and therefore bound to assist.
“Terrorism and Islam extremists should not be allowed to set their foot in the region because if allowed to establish a firm footing, we could easily become their target once they are done with Mozambique.”
He compared the terrorist groups to deadly cancer and said they should never be given breathing space.
“We are better off fighting them from where they are and not letting them manifest and settle in other parts of the region,” Mokgware advised.
The retired commander also highlighted that most of the drugs in the country come through Mozambique and it would be good to close that route.
“Terrorism and drugs go hand in hand as terrorist acts are often financed through the sale of drugs.
However, the former Member of Parliament for Gabane/Mmankgodi said that there might be a backlash emanating from the Mozambique intervention.
“They will fight back and possibly even attack us on home ground. Good strategies are needed to prepare for war,” he said, adding that it would be prudent for the government to postpone some of its projects and divert part of the developmental budget to focus on this matter.
“War is expensive and more equipment and resources will be needed,” he noted.
Another former soldier, Brigadier Iphemele Kgokgothwane, said that as a member of SADC, Botswana had no option but to send troops to Mozambique.
“It is important that we partake in any form of disaster or insurrection that befalls a member state. The kind of situation that has emerged in Mozambique, if not nipped in the bud, can easily escalate to the entire region. As an expert on counter-terrorism, I can tell you that it is an advantage for our troops to gain experience and practice what they have been learning. We say sweat more during peacetime so that you bleed less during war. Before I was forced out of the BDF, I had made the training to be semi-commando status to cater for our strength,” he said.
Meanwhile, African Political Analyst, Solly Da Sol, has also agreed with the former army commanders that if the situation in Mozambique is not attended to urgently, it has the potential to destabilise the economy of the whole region.
Fighting insurgents, he said, should be a collective defence by all SADC countries.
Just like Mokgware, the analyst warned of casualties, which he said might taint the reputation of the government of the day.
“We may suffer attacks because of our involvement or experience a public uproar once our troops start to lose their lives. A solid strategy must be in place,” he said.
President Masisi is also the Chairman of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.