Botswana: Soldier Welfare Priority

Francistown — Government is determined to ensure no soldier enlisted in the Botswana Defense Force retires into poverty, says President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.

To that end, he said government had moved speedily to address some of the pressing issues chief among them soldiers' conditions of service.

Dr Masisi, also Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces said this on March 13 during a visit to the 2nd Brigade Group headquarters commonly known as Donga BDF Camp in Francistown.

"We have established therefore that while we cannot afford to deliver on all of the recommendations by Tsabadiri Consultancy company, which we engaged as government to look into BDF welfare issues in 2016, we could at least deliver some although costly and taxing," he said adding that the alignment of BDF pay structure to that of the public service was the starting point.

The alignment, he explained, meant that soldiers enlisted at the level of private would be paid at salary scale B1 instead of B3 with effect from April 1.

President Masisi revealed that a cabinet memorandum to provide for a separate pay structure for civilian members of the BDF had been generated.

Moreover, the President said the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security was under instruction to expedite the establishment of a veterans affairs office to service retired soldiers.

He assured the soldiers that he would continue leading from the front to defend and protect the territorial integrity, sovereignty and constitution of Botswana, a job he said he could do much better with BDF's support.

In his welcome address earlier, 2nd Brigade Group commander, Brigadier Joseph Seelo said Dr Masisi's visit and tour of the facility was a morale booster without which the soldiers could not maintain the readiness expected of them to diligently execute their national obligations.

Brigadier Seelo pledged the commitment of the soldiers under his command to serve the nation at all times before all other considerations.

"We will defend Botswana's territorial integrity, sovereignty and national interest," he said.

Another speaker, Corporal Teko Ranku said the army especially appreciated the fact that government had gone out of its way to improve soldiers' remuneration in spite of a shoestring budget.

Corporal Ranku said the army would not take its foot off the pedal in its quest to better serve the nation.

President Masisi was accompanied by among others, Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Mr Shaw Kgathi, BDF commander Lt Gen Placid Segokgo, the ministry's ougoing and incoming permanent secretaries Ms Segakweng Tsiane and Ms Matshidiso Bokole respectively and other senior government officials.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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