It’s a Political Stunt

Leungo Mokgwathi

Ex-soldiers spit on BDF’s call to apply for compensation

After many years of an ignored plea for compensation of occupational conditions, selected former soldiers with the support of the Botswana Defence Force Retired Members Association (BDFRMA) have spat on BDF’s most recent call for applications for retrospective workers compensation for retired BDF members, calling it a political stunt ahead of the 2024 General Elections.

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On their end, BDFRMA has also argued that the conditions of the advert are absurd and oppressive to retired soldiers who were injured in the line of duty.

A group of retired soldiers who preferred not to be named out of fear of victimization, revealed that despite applying for the compensation on numerous accounts, none of them had been responded to, although they provided all the necessary documents.

“We are furious because it appears that the government is seriously toying with us. We’ve had engagements with them over this particular issue, but to date none of us have been assisted,” said a representative.

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“We are suffering from chronic illnesses, some are deaf, some are impotent and consequently divorced, but despite all this, our government has turned a blind eye on us. “

According to them, calls for application for compensation tend to only appear during election season.

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“They have turned us into fools! We defended and fought for our country, but now that we are hurt, some for more than 23 years now, we have been discarded and ignored, waiting to die,” they cried.

In an interview with this publication, BDFRMA Secretary General retired Brigadier Mabe Gaborone said that BDF needs to take responsibility by taking care of its own.

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Commenting on the advert, although he stated that they hadn’t met with the injured ex-soldiers yet, Mabe stressed that its conditions were likely to rub the affected members the wrong way.

“What is contentious is releasing an advert with some conditions which can be viewed as oppressive.”

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For eligibility of the compensation, separated members are required to provide proof of an occupational condition through medical documents and official statements that clearly indicate when and how the condition occurred.

Mabe deemed it unjust to require medical records from ex-soldiers, stating that most had lost them in the process of battle, multiple trips and some losses were a result of poor housing as members slept in tents on these trips.

He also blatantly mentioned that since some of the injuries occurred over 20 years ago, some of their testifiers are dead.

He called for a compromise on BDF’s part which would even the playing field.

Meanwhile a BDF representative tasked with explaining the advert to retired soldiers said that they have already started the compensation process.

According to him, the response from ex-soldiers has been a positive one, except a few disgruntled responses from those who don’t qualify.

He went on to urge the retired soldiers to maintain patience through the process.

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