Ex-soldiers accuse govt of using propaganda to discredit court case

Bame Piet
ADDRESSING MEDIA: A Re Itshekeng (ARI) Social Club

There is no settlement – ex-soldiers

Agrieved former soldiers who launched a legal action against the Government have accused the State of spreading propaganda against them, labeling them hypocrites and opposition activists.

They also say that the government claims that the matter has been settled whilst the truth is that the case is still pending before the courts.

Addressing journalists on Tuesday afternoon in Gaborone, the retired soldies said as far as they know, the Government has not engaged them or their attorneys and therefore no settlement has been reached.

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“The A Re Itshekeng (ARI) Social Club would like to take this opportunity to place it on record that, the legal process dating as far back as 2019 arising from a protracted matter that started some 26 years ago seems to be far from over. This is especially true given the fact that owing to the delaying tactics by the government, the matter is still before the courts,” said a statement read by Brigadier Gaseikanngwe Peke.

They said their two contentious issues that remain unresolved are the application of the inappropriate denominator in the calculations of the pension benefits for members of the BDF, and the unlawful migration of military personnel from their rightful pension as provided for in the BDF Act, to Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), a pension regime primarily designed for the Civil Service, not for military personnel.

They further indicated that government unilaterally came up with a system or formula to compensate them without their input.

The soldiers also argued that the way things stand, only the court process will achieve the restoration of the retirees to their original and rightful pension as provided for in the BDF Act Cap 21:05 of 1977, coupled with appropriate adjustment of the denominator to suit the peculiar circumstances under which military personnel operate.

“In a nutshell, military retirees are therefore seeking appropriate pension factors that will allow all of them to buy an annuity enabling them to receive a monthly pension in order to afford them decent life post retirement. Our understanding and expectations are that any form of efforts to resolve this matter must directly address these two critical factors together with their inherent variables”.

“His Excellency the President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, took the lead in making empty promises by leading Batswana to believe that our quest for justice was politically motivated since 2019”.

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Ntlole salary increment, the oldiers have argued was implemented to mislead the serving soldiers, and to isolate the retirees.

They further lamented that the President and Minister of Defence have used various platforms including political rallies, official engagements, and Parliament to spread untruths about the current situation of the Pensions dispute.

“We have noted with concern, the recent statement by the President at a political rally in Good Hope, that P1.5 Billion has been set aside for settling the dues of the military retirees. This again is an unfortunate position by His Excellency to erroneously tell the nation and unsuspecting military retirees to think that the money is solely for the latter’s upkeep. Saddening enough, it appears that the current dispensation to “settle” the pensions matter has come to be reduced to what appears to be a campaign tool on the eve of the general elections, a trend being repeated from 2019”.

The unilateral decision on the part of the government to provide a partial solution addressing the adjustment of the denominator remains one of the thorny issues.

As parties to the dispute, ARI was left out of the discussion.

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Instead, the Minister chose to engage with Associations of retirees, which in this particular case are not litigating.

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