Back-pay backlash

Bame Piet
IN CHARGE: Minister Mmusi
  • Pension scheme switch left many soldiers broke
  • Govt to disburse P1.5billion to soldiers by July

The Botswana government has earmarked P1.5 billion to rectify a longstanding issue concerning pensions for approximately 10,000 ex-soldiers, alongside some serving officers.

This substantial initiative aims to correct an oversight dating back more than two decades, ensuring rightful compensation for those affected.

Minister of Defense and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, confirmed this development in an exclusive interview earlier this week.

“This matter has lingered unresolved for many years,” Mmusi stated. “We exercised caution, prioritizing informed decision-making over hasty payouts.”

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Acknowledging the complexity of the situation predating his and President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi’s political careers, Mmusi emphasized the necessity of thorough research before action.

“Our priority is fairness,” he asserted. “We’ve engaged with both retired soldiers’ associations transparently to address their concerns.”

The establishment of a Veterans Office within the ministry, Mmusi says, was a commitment to resolving myriad grievances within the military community.

From workplace injuries to contentious pension discrepancies arising from shifts between pension schemes, the Defence Minister says, the government aims to provide comprehensive support.

A fundamental dispute revolves around the transfer of some soldiers from the Botswana Defense Force pension scheme to the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund, resulting in inequities due to differing calculation methods.

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Back-pay backlash
DISGRANTLED: The A re Itshekeng leadership

The A re Itshekeng Association, pursuing legal recourse, highlights the financial hardships endured by lower-ranking soldiers.

Mmusi outlined forthcoming measures to redress these imbalances, with adjustments to pensions scheduled to commence in July. “Our objective is clear: equitable compensation for all,” he affirmed. “We urge affected individuals to register promptly and participate in our nationwide outreach efforts.”

Each case will undergo thorough review by the Veterans Affairs office to ensure equitable outcomes.

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Despite ongoing litigation led by former senior BDF personnel, Mmusi remains resolute in the government’s commitment to resolution.

In a divergence of opinion, Mmusi suggested that associations consider investing a portion of the allocated funds in sustainable ventures like mines and farms to ensure long-term financial security.

However, he said he was not aware of similar pension demands from former prison warders and police officers, assuring that any such grievances would be addressed through the Veterans Affairs office.

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