The Botswana national security complex is fashioned around traditional (military) threats to security. This is demonstrated through the National Security Act and also by the country’s defense expenditure as a component of its GDP. Defense expenditure routinely takes the second largest share of GDP in Botswana. The outbreak of the novel Severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARSCOV-2) or COVID-19, however, suggests a relook at Botswana’s national security towards none traditional security threats- in this case pandemics. The case for this is made clear by the evidently poor readiness to deal with possible mass infections both from a health budgetary perspective, and the availability of medical personal and equipment. The key argument is for securitisation of health care in Botswana- especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is possible through diversion of a portion current defense spending towards health care. It is found that given the state of security in Southern Africa (more countries democratizing) the risk of military conflict against other states has significantly receded. But as demonstrated by COVID-19, the risk of pandemics and none military threats looms large. The scourge of HIV/AIDS, for Botswana in particular also demonstrates a lack of readiness to deal with pandemics. And this inadequacy of responses to pandemics is linked to health care not being treated as a critical matter of national security at the same level as say military. If the country would spend even more on health care and give more consideration as compared to military hardware it would be in better shape to respond to pandemics- which are greater threats, it appears, in the geopolitics of southern Africa today than during the apartheid era.
Keywords: Securitisation; COVID-19; Health care system; National security; Securitisation; Defense expenditure