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Gov’t working on soldiers’ 75% pension demand

The protracted talks between Government and the Retired Military Veterans are finally paying dividends, following revelations that Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security is drafting a bill aimed at addressing concerns of ex-servicemen.   

Ministry of Defence has revealed the President approved the drafting of a bill for Military Veterans through Presidential Directive 18 (A) 2019.  This was borne out of a growing concern that retired members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) were retired into poverty as they do not have pension, instead they are given a lump sum. The object of the Bill is to provide for the welfare and benefits of Military Veterans.

“Because of the extensive consultation that had to be done with many concerned stakeholders, including the Veterans themselves, the bill took unusually long to process.  It was first circulated in August 2021 and came back with recommendations that forced the bill to be sent back to the drafters for re-drafting to effect the proposed changes,” Principal Public Relations Officer, Bonolo Tabalaka told WeekendPost. 

Currently, Tabalaka said, the bill is being re-circulated for input by Government Ministries and Departments until 4th March 2022.  “The aim is to get the bill to the next parliamentary sitting in July 2022,” he stated.  The bone of contention is that initially, there were distinct differences in the computation denominator used for civil servants for pension, 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.

Should the bill see the light of the day, it will be a new dawn for the lowly ranked soldiers. Currently, a brigadier 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

President Mokgweetsi Masisi, prior to the 2019 elections said government was in the process of coming up with the 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 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”.

The intention, according to Masisi was to review the BDF pension arrangement with a view to secure a better retirement package for soldiers. For some time now, the soldiers have ran out of patience and suspected that this might have a lip service and election campaign gimmick.  However, it turns out that the government has been in consultations with other stakeholders on the matter.

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Why Katholo engaged private lawyers against State

16th May 2022
Katlholo

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.

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Dada to break Kwelagobe’s BDP long standing record

16th May 2022
Dada

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.

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The Gulaam Husain Abdoola – Dubai sting detailed

16th May 2022
Gulaam Husain Abdoola

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.

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