Retired Botswana Defence Force (BDF) officers have been promised feedback next month regarding a report from Defence Council about their pensions.
The retired officers have been up in arms with their former employer regarding the report which has been gathering dust after it was commissioned. Members of BDF Retired Members Association (RMA) gathered at Madiba Senior School in Mahalapye for their Annual General Meeting this past Saturday.
At the meeting the attendants were briefed on the issue of pensions and forfeited leave days. The meeting came at the time when some of the retired senior officers are putting together a case against BDF over the Report which is held by the Defence Council. It was revealed at the meeting that the report has been given to cabinet and is expected to be returned to the council.
Colonel Mountain from BDF Headquarters- Sir Seretse Khama Barracks told the meeting that they are waiting for the report from government. He revealed that there was a scheduled meeting of June 30th 2018 where the Report was to be discussed but the meeting did not materialise.
Colonel Mountain indicated that another meeting has been scheduled for the 13th of August 2018. Attendants made it clear that following such meeting they have to be briefed again on progress. It was argued that such important issues should not only be dealt with during the AGM which comes only once in a year. In early July Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi told Parliament that the report is yet to be forwarded to cabinet.
Kgathi stated that in 2001, the Government moved from a Defined Benefit Scheme to Defined Contribution Scheme. “Unfortunately, the Defined Benefit Scheme was modelled on a civil servant who retires at 60 years and not on soldiers; some of whom retire at the age of 45 years considerably disadvantaging members of the BDF,” he said.
Regarding forfeited leave days Colonel Molomo told the weekend meeting that the BDF has managed to pay those who are owed from 2012 to 2016. He said the next batch would be paid next month. “We would pay those owed from 2011 backwards. In August about 800 former officers would receive the dues and the other 800 would be paid in September,” said Colonel Molomo who explained that due to financial constraints they have to pay in batches.
In 2016 some retired BDF officers dismissed government’s claims that they have been paid their forfeited leave days. This was after the then Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Eric Molale on behalf of Minister Kgathi said retired and serving members of the BDF have been paid their forfeited leave days. The forfeited days were said to have not been included when the officers were paid their retirement packages.
Minister Molale told Parliament that the percentage base charged was the equivalence applicable to all public officers’ monthly income taxes. “The exercise targeted in-service members because retirees and those who were terminated were paid all outstanding leave days.
The exercise to repay forfeited leave days had no link to the sale of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation shares, but it was rather a correction of an omission and payment to those entitled,” the minister told Parliament. He said neither Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security nor the BDF went out to entice officers adding that information on BTC shares was in public domain.
Furthermore, he said the decision whether to purchase shares or not was a personal choice of individual officers. Ramotswa Member of Parliament Samuel Rantuana, had wanted the minister to state whether members of the Botswana Defence Force who were still in service had been paid their leave days that were forfeited, if so what percentage tax charge have they been charged. The MP further asked if retirees and those whose service had been terminated for various reasons including medical had been paid as well.
MP Rantuana further wanted to know if the payments were motivated by the sale of shares at Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited; and whether the officers were enticed into purchasing such shares.