Members of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Retired Members Association (RMA) are scheduled to converge at Madiba Senior School in Mahalapye for their Annual General Meeting tomorrow (Saturday)
The AGM is hosted by Mahalapye Branch. The meeting comes at a time when some of the retired senior officers are putting together a case against their former employer over a Report which is held by the Defence Council. The Report which is yet to be taken to cabinet talks about the former army men pensions. The former BDF officers have for long been complaining about their welfare and pension. They have argued that they are being taken for granted after having served the country for a long time. They also argue that government through Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi has promised to resolve their problems but nothing fruitful has been realised.
The BDF RMA Chairperson, Major General Bakwena Oitsile last week addressed Mahalapye regional members who aired their dissatisfaction at the way government is handling their grievances. Maj Gen Oitsile told the meeting that the matter would be discussed again this Saturday where Minister Kgathi is expected to address the members. He said his committee is working around the clock with government in an attempt to address the former officers’ welfare and pension issues.It is yet to be seen if government would move swiftly to address the matter before the officers bring their case to court. This publication has learnt that some of the senior officers have identified a lawyer who has made the first consultation with them on the case they want to bring against their former employer. The former army men have indicated that they are impoverished because of the way their pension has been handled.
Recently in Parliament Kgathi stated that he is not aware that members of the BDF retire into poverty because of inadequate pension paid to them. He was responding to a question from Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse. Keorapetse had asked the minister if he is aware that BDF soldiers retire into poverty because of inadequate pension paid to them, and that the recent amendments to the BDF Act will do little to address this problem.
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. I have amended the BDF Act and it was recently passed by this Parliament as the BDF Act, 2018.
“The effect of the amendment led to the raising of the retirement ages in the BDF except for the ranks of Private and Lance Corporal, which were retained at the age of 45 and 47 respectfully. The raising of the retirement age in the BDF was on consideration of the fact that the increase of retirement ages will consequentially lead to a longer period of defined contributions with a net effect of 10-15 per cent increase in the Net Replacement Ratio (NRR),” Kgathi told Parliament.