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Unhappy soldiers threat to national security- Mokgware

BDF, soldiers at loggerheads over payment

Former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Major General Pius Mokgware has warned Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi to put his house in order if he is to avoid looming trouble.

Mokgware told parliament this week that a culture of ill-treatment subjected to members of the BDF by government was literally playing with fire. Debating the budget proposal of Ministry of Defense, Justice and Security Mokgware warned that a situation where government is at loggerheads with soldiers at courts is not ideal as it present a security risk.

Mokgware revealed that government is in the habit of unreasonably refusing to honour its agreement with soldiers over payments, leading to an atmosphere of animosity. The Gabane-Mankgodi MP gave an example of a case which is before the courts in which BDF failed to pay soldiers who went on a peace keeping mission in Somalia.

Mokgware said it is a security risk to see disputes involving soldiers and the army being settled at the courts instead of the ideal Defence Council, which should deal with soldiers concerns.

Mokgware further decried what he called lack of proper BDF structure and noted that it had resulted in some soldiers working for a long time without promotion. “Some army members go for 10 years at the rank of private and this certainly demoralizes them,” he said.

Mokgware argued that the government does not give all state security institutions the serious attention it deserves as shown by its commitment towards improving their welfare. He contended that soldiers, police officers, and prison staff are doing an excellent job yet they are not sufficiently remunerated.

The former army man said soldiers are currently faced with shortage of accommodation and low wages with their welfare not being given the handling it deserves.  He observed that the practise has a negative bearing in the long run because they would become a security risk.

Mokgware said, unlike other civil servants, soldiers, police officers and prison staffers, because of the nature of their jobs are unable to start up their own businesses to complement their salaries. “Soldiers work unconventional hours,” he said. “Other civil servants can have businesses, soldiers and police officers cannot,” he said.

The government’s lack of commitment towards improving the welfare of the army men is evidenced by the meagre monthly payments made to the relatives of Lesoma heroes who died in pursuit of defending the country, according to Mokgware. He went on to call for government to consider increasing the money to a reasonable amount.

Another issue which is a hot potato in the security sector is the matter relating to the welfare security guards employed by private companies. MPs called for a need to review the current law with the view of protecting them from unfair treatment.

Adding on to the debate, Gilbert Mangole, MP for Mochudi West requested minister Kgathi to come up with a reviewed legislative piece of work that would enable government to intervene in a situation where it has contracted a private security company and it is not paying its security guards on time. “Government should be allowed to take part of the money forwarded as payment to pay the guards who are being owed by the company,” he argued.

Mangole said there is an alarming case of maltreatment by private security companies to their guards and the current law allows them to easily get away with it.

Kgathi told parliament that there are 3,806 licensed security companies in Botswana, further revealing that that there was serious disregard of employee welfare, conditions of service, industrial relations as provided in the Employment Act by the directors of private security companies.

“It is also a concern that some of the employees are implicated in criminal activities,” said Kgathi. The Minister also revealed that 345 security guards were being investigated for various crimes like house breaking and theft, rape and other robberies.   
Meanwhile Edwin Batshu called for a reviewed piece of legislation that would allow government to revoke the company licence if it fails to pay the security guards by the 3rd of every month.
Batshu also called on the minister Kgathi to hire special constables who had served for a period of five years on full time basis to the Botswana Police. He said that for a person to serve five years on temporary basis shows the commitment the person has to the organization.

Batshu said even if the special constables do not have enough points to meet the cut-off points, their experience should be taken into account in their being admitted into training at the Botswana Police College.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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