The new Commander of Botswana Defense Force (BDF), Lieutenant General Placid Segokgo could leave the army in two years if his contract is not extended by the head of state at the time.
Segokgo was bestowed the commandership of BDF by President Ian Khama and his predecessor, Lt Gen Gaolathe Galebotswe on Thursday morning, beneath the celebratory sonic boom of F-5 fighter jets.
Segokgo officially donned his three star Lieutenant General rank on Friday.
By his own admission, he is two years junior to the outgoing commander, Lt Gen. Galebotswe who retired after reaching the mandatory military retirement age of 55.
Segokgo is likely to stand down as commander of BDF in the third or fourth quarter of 2018.
While the BDF will routinely be categorical with revealing the age of a high ranking commanding general, Segokgo places himself at the age of 53 and if his contract is not extended by the head of state when he reaches the retirement age of 55, he will be one of BDF commanders to have served the shortest of periods as commander of the army. Galebotswe served as BDF commander for the past four years.
Retired Lt Gen Tebogo Masire is the only BDF commander to have his contract extended by the President. Masire took over from Lieutenant General Matshwenyego Fisher in 2006 and his contract was extended for two years when he reached the retirement age of 55.
President Ian Khama who is also former BDF commander, retired from service at the age of 45 to make his leap into politics. Khama allegedly became a one star Brigadier General at the age of 24 and continues to hold the record of the youngest Brigadier General in the world.
Ironically, Segokgo and Galebotswe were in the same Officer Cadet Serial 3 of 1983, otherwise known as ‘The Golden Class’. The two Lieutenant Generals can even be seen sitting side by side in photographs of Officer Cadet Serial 3 of 1983. The Golden Class included Lt Gen Placid Segokgo himself, Lt Gen Gaolathe Galebotswe, Brigadier Otumiseng Tseleng, Brigadier Mukani Mokobi, Colonel Philip Lebele and Lt Col Geoffrey Mosimaneotsile among others.
Other high ranking military men from The Golden Class include the now Deputy Commander Major General Gotsileene Morake, Brigadier Lawrence Rapula, retired Brigadier George Tlhalerwa, Brigadier Cullen Nkele, and Brigadiers Seretse, Jansen and Kethibogile.
It would seem Segokgo and Galebotswe have always been close as one Brigadier Lawrence Rapula describes that, in a football match against BDF XI, Galebotswe once traded the manning of the goal posts to Segokgo, to lead the strike force against the opponents and in the end they thrashed BDF XI 2-0.
The incoming commander stated in his speech at the change of command that his focus “as commander of BDF shall be in the five key areas of capability, improvement of our conditions of service, the finalization of the BDF Act review as well as the provision of ready trained forces underpinned by our values.”
Segokgo further highlighted that his pivot as commander will be toward the welfare of soldiers, stating that: “no military can ever provide a credible defence deterrent without taking care of its people. The welfare of our nation’s troops should remain an enduring principle of our defense strategy.”
He also continued that: “young Batswana continue to join the BDF because they are convinced of the underlying ideals of our country-a free and democratic people committed to the national principles of democracy, development, self-reliance and unity. As the BDF we must ensure that these ideals are exemplified by rewarding the patriotism and loyalty of our men and women in uniform and their civilian counterparts with a defence force committed to their conditions of service.
Segokgo inherits BDF from a man who according to praises heaped upon him, is one of the most outstanding military men BDF has produced in its 33 years of existence.
Even though he was catapulted to the position of BDF commander in a strange twist of fate, Galebotswe has been described as a man of impressive cognitive and physical abilities. George Tlhalerwa stated of Galebotswe: “In such an environment, naturally certain individuals started to stand out because of their special traits which we didn’t understand to be leadership traits at the time. He was one of the strongest in the intake and would always help others during speed marches, which were often 10 to 60 kilometers by carrying their backpacks or riffles including his own load.”
As a Special Forces instructor, when students were dropped off to do a 60 kilometer march, it is said that Galebotswe had a knack to do the march with the students and not proceed to the camp with other instructors in vehicles.
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.