The Botswana Defence Force Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) have joined hands with the retired military veterans to pressure President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Kagiso Mmusi to enact Retired Military Act aimed at addressing the welfare of the ex-servicemen.
Previously, in the build-up to 2019 elections, President Masisi said government was in the process of creating a similar law, Military Veterans Act, in an effort to address challenges be-devilling retired army officers. Masisi promised that the act will provide structures and principles for governance of retired BDF members in line with international best practice.
Further, Masisi said the legislation will provide a clear definition of a veteran; what qualifies him or her to be one; and manage expectations by elaborately spelling out entitlements to military veterans. “The Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi has informed me that a Cabinet Memorandum on the enactment of a Military Veterans Act has already been submitted for consideration by Cabinet during the month of June 2019,” he pointed out. “The aim is to have a Net Replacement Ratio of 75% or better,” the President said.
He was referring to “the projected pension at retirement expressed as a percentage of final net salary after deductions and income tax”. Masisi said the BDF pension arrangement would be reviewed with a view to securing a better retirement package for soldiers. However, three years down the line the bill has not reached the floor of parliament. The act, according to the active soldiers who have now ganged up with the retired veterans, was going to improve their lives post their military service.
As it turns out, that remains to be effected. A brigadier currently retires with a net replacement ratio of 50 percent while lower ranks below the P500 000 threshold do not have pensions and retire with a lump sum. According to BPOPF, the threshold of P500 000 translates into a salary of P5 000 per month. A lower denominator therefore results in a lower net replacement ratio. Their lament is compounded by the recent promotions which saw 101 soldiers promoted to positions of Major while 91 were elevated to be Captains.
The NCOs are of the view that the army bosses could have prioritized them on the promotions so that they could also delay their retirement age. The BDF retirement age is dependent on the rank occupied. “What we are saying here is, we have been promised that there will be review as to how we take our pensions after many years serving the country. Now we thought after SOE we (NCOs) would be considered. That would have allowed us to buy time in terms of retirement because if I get promoted to Lance Corporal from Corporal it delays my retirement age. The lower the rank the earlier you,” said a currently serving army man.
The bone of contention is that initially, there were distinct differences in the computation denominator used for civil servants, which was 1/720, and the one used for the BDF, which was 1/600. During the switch to BPOPF, the former soldiers say the transfer values ignored the difference in the denominators, thus disadvantaging them when they retired. What worries the soldiers, especially those who are currently active is the fact that a similar fate awaits them when they retire.
“The problem is, there is no dialogue nowadays; our leadership here in BDF is the same as that of the Minister and worst of all the President made the promises in 2019 but no implementation or even progress,” said the serviceman who has been employed by the army for over 30 years. In 2020, squabbles surrounding promotions were raised by junior officers at BDF who were warned and told to shut-up because matters of progression at the army are way above their authority. In the past interview with this publication, Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Thomas Letshwenyo Letshwiti- Chairman of the Botswana Defence Force Retired Members Association- confirmed that indeed the issues raised are true.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.
In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.
While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.
Mr Abdoola has known Mr. Uzair Razi for many years from the time he was a young boy. Uzair’s father, Mr Razi Ahmed, was the head of BCCI Bank in Botswana and “a very good man,” his close associates say.
Uzair and his wife went to settle in Dubai, the latter’s birthplace. He stayed in touch and was working for a real estate company owned by Mr. Sameer Lakhani. “Our understanding is that Uzair approached Mr. Abdoola to utilize their services for any property-related interests in Dubai. He did some work for Mr.Abdoola and others in the Botswana business community,” narrates a friend of Mr Abdoola.