Botswana: Ntlole Bites Back

Employees of the disciplined forces are poised for a debilitating blow after Botswana Defence Force (BDF) officers were ordered to contribute part of their monthly salaries to assist government in the fight against COVID-19.

The euphoria and excitement that immersed the military, police and prisons barracks as a result of Ntlole perks is now causing anxiety for employees as some view the move as unkind decision. This comes in the backdrop of massive blow as the government have also taken a decision to suspend 10% and 6% salary increases for public servants for 2020/21 financial year.

The members of disciplined forces emerged as the big winners earlier last year when President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi made well-paid salary perks increment for them widely known as Ntlole.

Yet, it seems like Ntlole will not be lucrative at least for the next six months as it is back firing as the workers will be voluntarily facing salary chop varying on their levels of ranking or positions. To make matters worse the members of disciplined forcers unlike other public servants are not allowed to unionise therefore they have no trade union that can intervene in their grievances.

BDF Commander Lt General Placid Segokgo in a letter written to the officers said they will be exhibiting the BDF values such as Botho and Courage by pledging to make monthly sacrifices. Then BDF uniformed personnel in the rank of Lt General and Major General are expected to donate P2 000, Brigadier P1 000 with Private the list with P50 per month just to mention few.

The monthly voluntary contributions by Prisons and Police were not yet clear but it is alleged the Botswana Police Savings and Loans Guarantee Scheme will contribute funds same like BDF. Efforts to reach Police Spokesperson Dipheko Motube were futile as his mobile phone was off.

In an interview with some members of the disciplined forces who are currently on standby duty to ensure that citizens adhere to the lockdown rules, they expressed discontent over plans. "It is very painful that I am expected to contribute part of my hard earned salary to COVID-19 relief fund while I am also paying tax. BDF caught us off-guard on this decision and it will be bad if we don't donate as it will trigger form of ill-treatment for us in future," said one army officer.

Deputy Secretary General Botswana Federation of Public Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Ketlhalefile Motshegwa opined that the decision amounts to coercion of the soldiers. He said the fact that soldiers are not allowed to unionise makes them the most oppressed with no platform to register their grievances. He warned that failure to contribute will lead to victimization.

Notorious Ntlole

The Ntlole increment posed threat towards dividing the public servants as well having impacts on the economy with opposition complaining that its funds came out of the initial budget agenda. For example, in late December last year the opposition threw out the P 1.1 billion request by the minister of Finance Dr Thapelo Matsheka to be used for paying public servants' salaries.

The rejection led by Leader of Opposition Dumelang Saleshando questioned the authority under which Dr Matsheka was requesting a supplementary budget fo P757 million to fund the salary increases for disciplined forces.

Opposition MPs argued that ntlole salary increment was ill-advised as the ruling BDP was using it to canvass for votes from the disgruntled civil servants, disregarding its repercussions.

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