Connect with us
Advertisement

BDF kicks out COVID-19 positive recruits

BDF

After weeks of intensive physical fitness assessment embodied by 2.4km run, push-ups and sit- ups, and additional comprehensive medical examinations, aptitude tests and security vetting, some Botswana Defence Force (BDF) recruits were informed recently that the army hierarchy has decided to eject them because they tested positive for coronavirus.

The drastic news reached the would-be recruits a few days before they could transit to the six months long training base.

The affected candidates have expressed frustration at the move by army bosses, citing that they went through and satisfied the selection process only to be undone by a virus that has become endemic in the society.  “We have more questions than answers following this announcement by our army trainers,” said a recruit who spoke on condition of anonymity. Apparently the officers tasked with training the recruits could not comprehensively account for the decision because it “was an instruction from above”.

This publication has it on record that about 50 would-be recruits had to return home because they had tested positive for the virus. The main concern of these frustrated candidates is that COVID-19 was never listed as a disqualifying factor in the job adverts. They also point out that on account of the time they spent at the assessment centre, it is evident that they were free from the virus at the time of entry.

Detailing the ordeal, one of the recruits who preferred to be anonymous said they were assured that even if they could test positive for the virus, their space in the army would still be secured. “I tested positive following the PCR test, this was a few days before we could leave for the training base.

I then went into a 10 day isolation period at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB). We were assured that the jobs are still ours and will travel to Pandamantenga (military training base) after 10 days. We were informed that a second test will be conducted clear us. To our surprise after the isolation period elapsed, we were told to pack our bags and go home, without further tests,” the would-be recruit narrated.

At the time they were told to go back home BDF had already deposited money into their bank accounts and provided them with other necessary resources needed at the barracks for training.

According to information sourced by this publication, the recruiting officers did not have answers when asked about the decision, instead they informed the recruits that it is an instruction from army bosses.

The dejected rejected recruits had no choice but to take their belongings and travel back to their homes. “We had to organize transport for ourselves, mind you we did not have cell-phones as they are prohibited at the training base. It was a struggle and imagine having to travel for more than 500km, this is unjust coming from a respected army like BDF,” an emotionally charged recruit revealed.

However, the decision to snub the positive trainees is supported by the former BDF Commander Lt Gen Gaolathe Galebotswe. He reasoned that this is done in the best interest of both the trainee and the group at large.

“You are tested to see if you are fit for a military training. When it is detected that there are conditions which may hamper your training, it is best they remove you because the BDF needs strong and fit candidates. The tests, if at all there are some who have been kicked out, are done not to ensure that the recruit is not put in danger or endangers others. It hurts when you are taken out, but it is done because by then you are still a candidate and you might bring the virus to a whole army.”

Galebotswe said there are no sinister or ulterior motives behind the decision, “because COVID-19 is a pandemic and at worst easily transmittable in a crowd hence the BDF is trying to protect lives.”

BDF recruitment has in the past attracted attention after reports emerged that some would-be recruits were not absorbed because of their HIV status as well as body tattoos. Some quarters opined that this was tantamount to discrimination.

However, the COVID-19 situation, as observed by Galebotswe, tallies with what the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Lieutenant General Placid Segokgo has said in relation to HIV/AIDS amongst soldiers. He told Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the virus could degrade readiness of the army.

Segokgo made the remarks last month when updating PAC Members who were concerned by allegations that some Batswana are denied the right to join the army because of their HIV status.

“I don’t get to know medical conditions of my officers, I just receive a notification of an officer being unfit for duty. I cannot and have never asked for their HIV status. I do not know whether recruits are denied the opportunity because of their HIV status. However, my responsibility is to produce an army that is ready to face different situations and HIV can degrade readiness,” Segokgo said.

However, he said there has been an argument that testing HIV positive does not mean that a person is sick adding that some of the investments in training officers are costly hence there is an argument against investing in someone who might soon be unavailable due to ill health.

With Botswana’s unemployment figures swelling despite government efforts to solve the problem, institutions such as the BDF usually receive large numbers of application as they are seen to be a gate way to employment. According to the latest update from Statistics Botswana, the youth unemployment rate went up by 1.9 percentage points over the period, from 30.5 percent to 32.4 percent.

“Unemployment rate went up by 1.3 percentage points, from 23.2 percent in quarter one of 2020, to 24.5 percent in quarter four 2020,” said the country’s Statistician General Burton Mguni.

News

State forged Kgosi’s arrest warrant

22nd July 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).

The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

 

Continue Reading

News

UDC parties discuss by-elections

22nd July 2021
UDC

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.

Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.

The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.

This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).

The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.

The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.

In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.

Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.

Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.

“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.

Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.

“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.

The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.

UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.

Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.

Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.

Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”

Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.

FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS  

With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.

BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.

BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.

It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.

Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”

It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.

At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.

Continue Reading

News

DIS infiltrates Police fingerprint system

22nd July 2021
Makgope

Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.

Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.

BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.

The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.

By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.

In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.

“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.

“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.

The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.

All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.

“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.

Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.

Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.

COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE

As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.

“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.

The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.

“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.

The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.

“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!