Botswana Defence Force has explained why former President and former Commander Lt. Gen Ian Khama was not invited to the commemoration of the Fallen Heroes held at the Three Chiefs Monument earlier this week.
In an enquiry by WeekendPost the Director of Protocol and Public Affairs, Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Colonel Tebo Dikole confirmed that they were aware that the Former President was not invited. He established that attendance of BDF events by Former Commanders are strictly by invitation. Dikole explained that Khama’s designation as ‘Former President’ precedes that of Former Commander hence the reason he did not receive an invitation by the BDF despite having invited all Former Commanders to the ceremony.
“Yes, Former Commanders were invited to the Fallen Heroes Commemoration albeit Former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama was not invited as his designation “Former President” precedes that of a Former Commander,” Dikole said. Dikole said it is worth noting that since the inception of the Fallen Heroes Commemoration in 2011 it is worth noting that since the inception of the Fallen Heroes Commemoration in 2011 when it was dubbed Lesoma Commemoration to date, no Former Presidents have been invited to attend the ceremony.
Precedent has been set where the invite is extended to the current President and his Vice President as was the case on the 27th February 2019. He however indicated that in the past they have had serving Presidents attending with their Vice Presidents (Former President Lt Gen Dr SKI Khama and the late Former Vice President Lt Gen MS Merafhe, Former President Lt Gen Dr SKI Khama and Former Vice President Dr PHK Kedikilwe, Former President Lt Gen Dr SKI Khama and Former Vice President MEK Masisi), and in 2019 His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi and His Honor the Vice President Slumber Tsogwane were in attendance as it has been the norm.
Khama’s snubbing has polarised the public with some questioning why former president was not invited yet he was the Commander of BDF at some point and that most Fallen Heroes died under his tenure. Khama served as BDF commander from 1989 until his retirement in 1998 to take up a role in politics.
Dikole explained that it is not the discretion of the BDF to control who lays a wreath or pays tribute to its heroes and heroines who are laid to rest in various towns and villages of this country including extension 14 cemetery therefore what Khama did was not erroneous. “Please note that the 14 members who are laid to rest at Extension 14 cemetery perished in 1978 during Former Vice President Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe's tenure as the Commander of the BDF while at the time Former President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama was his Deputy.”
After receiving the invitation Khama, accompanied by Botswana Democratic (BDP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Nata-Gweta constituency, Polson Majaga, laid a wreath at the Extension 14 cemetery in Gaborone. Masisi had already laid a wreath at the Three Chiefs Monument earlier that day. Speaking to this publication Khama seemed to be surprised as to why he did not receive an invitation from the BDF, stressing that as former commander he had expected to be invited.
“I was not invited, I do not understand why I was not invited because as Former Commander of the BDF it is within my right,” Khama said. Khama, however said not being invited could not stop him from commemorating the “Fallen Heroes” as this is what he usually does every year. “I am doing this because not being invited should not stop me from commemorating the Fallen Heroes. It is what I do yearly and will continue doing,” he concluded.
This event which was known then as Lesoma Commemoration Day was first commemorated in 2011 at the Extension 14 cemetery where the remains of the fifteen (15) deceased members of the BDF lie entombed. After careful introspection it was changed to Fallen Heroes so as to include other members of the BDF who passed on in the line of duty.
While in Gaborone this commemoration takes place here at the Three (3) Dikgosi monument, other commemorations are also being observed today at Thebephatswa Air Base, Francistown Donga Camp, Lesoma Village and Eastern Military Garrison in Selibe Phikwe to recognize the fallen heroes in different parts of this country.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.