BDF ordered to pay only 7 of the 51 former soldiers
The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) has been ordered to pay at least seven of the fifty-one (51) ex-soldiers their contribution to the Military’s Sports and Recreation Fund. However 42 of the 51 applicants lost the case with costs.
Following a lengthy court debate in which the military men had filed a number of claims against the BDF, Justice Key Dingake of the Gaborone High Court could not find any convincing evidence for him to award the soldiers their claims against their former employer.
“The law is that costs follow the event. The applicants have all but failed in all their claims save for the seven with respect to the claim with respect to contribution to Sports and Recreation Fund. It is fair that in the result, it is ordered that all the applicants claims save for contribution to the Sports and Recreation Fund by the seven applicants identified in the judgment fails with costs,” Dingake made the ruling.
Dingake was making a ruling in a case in which fifty-one former BDF soldiers had taken the BDF to court over a number of claims including, contribution to the Sports and Recreation Fund, contribution to the Welfare Fund, Failure to pay Per Diem Allowances, Payment for those on Peacekeeping Missions and Funeral Scheme contributions.
On the issue of Sports and Recreation and Welfare Funds, the soldiers averred that they were through the BDF requested to make a monthly contribution towards the Funds. According to them, they were at the conclusion of their employment, entitled to be reimbursed their contribution plus ten percent interest.
However upon retirement they were told they had donated their Sports and Recreation Fund contributions. They further alleged that the BDF refused to reimburse them the contributions they made towards the Welfare Fund.
“On the evidence, I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the seven applicants (named) did contribute to the Sports and Recreation Fund and that there is no evidence that the aforesaid employees agreed that their contributions would be converted into donations,” Dingake made the ruling and added that the said soldiers should be reimbursed their contributions plus the ten percent interest.
But with respect to the Welfare Fund, the Judge said that the aspect of the claim had not been proven and therefore dismissed the claim.
The BDF further denied that they ever agreed to pay its soldiers who were deployed to Mozambique and Somalia for peacekeeping missions any per diem allowance. But the soldiers alleged that they were informed and it was agreed that they would be entitled to such an allowance on top of their monthly salaries as they were taken out of their duty stations.
The soldiers had presented before the court that it was their understanding that such allowances would be paid on their return from the mission, alternatively would be factored in their terminal benefits upon completion of service. However the package was not issued upon retirement.
According to the arguments of the retired soldiers, those of them that were deployed to peacekeeping missions were entitled, in addition to the daily amount of Thirty American Dollars ($30. 00), to $988 that was paid the BDF for onward payment to them.
Their contention was that it was agreed that they would be paid their dues upon completion of their mission, alternatively that they would be paid a portion of their dues upon return, with the rest payable upon retirement of separation from the BDF.
However the BDF denied that the $988 amount was due to the soldiers that were deployed but rather the amount was compensation for the Republic of Botswana to have sent its soldiers to peacekeeping missions.
“With respect to this particular claim, even if I were wrong that the claim has prescribed, the claim would still have to fail for lack of sufficient evidence in the face of denial that such is due by the respondents (BDF),” the judge further pointed out.
On the claim of the funeral scheme contributions, the soldiers averred that the BDF made monthly deductions from their salaries as contribution towards a funeral scheme. The amount they said were dependent on the rank of the individual. The complaint is that, since their retirement from the service, they had not been advised on the status of their contributions or be given an assurance that the contributed funds would be utilised for their funerals upon their death.
However the BDF further denied that all the fifty-one soldiers have made monthly contributions to the funeral scheme. The BDF added that the funeral scheme was a matter between those who have contributed to the scheme and the Botswana Life Insurance Limited. The BDF maintained that it was not even privy to the arrangement and therefore said it could not be sued over the matter.
The court was convinced that only eight out of the fifty-one applicants contributed to the funeral scheme.
“On the evidence, there is no evidence that the first respondent had undertaken to reimburse Funeral Scheme contributions at the end of the applicants’ service or employment or at any other time. On the papers, the applicants do not state how much money is due to them or how much they contributed a month. Consequently, the claim for reimbursement has not been fully made out. It seems to me that it may be prudent for the applicants to pursue this matter with the insurance company,” Justice Dingake further decided on the matter.
Meanwhile the soldiers are said to be planning to appeal the case. At the time of going to print they were allegedly planning to meet the State President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama who is the Commander in Chief of the armed Forced with intention to settle this matter out of court if possible.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.