The Botswana Defence Force has denied that it has promoted a number of junior army officers as a way to appease dissidents in the junior ranks of the army, adding that the promotions were not prompted by an article that appeared in local media in which junior army officers bitterly complained about being ignored.
In an interview with The Sunday Standard, Colonel Mogorosi Baatweng, BDF’s Director of Protocol & Public Affairs said, in total, there were 58 Captains promoted to Major, 77 Lieutenants promoted to Captain, 51 Warrant Officer Class II to Warrant Officer Class I, 75 Staff Sergeants promoted to Warrant Officer Class II, 128 Sergeants elevated to Staff Sergeants, 292 Corporals to Sergeants and 1021 Privates to Lance Corporals, all of which with effect from June 1st 2009.
On the front page of its June 14, 2009 edition, The Sunday Standard published a story titled: BDF privates tired of salary review promises, in which some disgruntled BDF privates had approached the media to complain about meager salaries, lack of accommodation and other injustices they alleged were being perpetrated on them by the BDF.
After publication of the story, the same junior officers called the paper, saying they wanted to thank the paper for bringing their plight out in the open and confirming that many amongst them had finally been promoted.
“Should any of your sources purport to have been promoted because he thinks he had coerced the BDF leadership (into promoting them), you should dismiss his/her statement as absolutely false,” emphatically stated.
Baatweng, saying that promotions are done on the availability of vacancies and that there are legal procedures to be followed in promoting employees of the BDF.
Baatweng further stated that promotions of Senior Officers are done every year in May, while those of Junior Officers are undertaken in June.
“I wish to assure you that there are laid out rules and regulations and a proper procedure that guide the Commander to appoint junior ranks. For example, the Commander approves promotions of junior ranking officers as a result of recommendations by the Commanding Officers to the Formation Commanders who, in-turn, forward their recommendations to the Promotions Board. The Board will also carefully scrutinize the recommendations to ensure that the right procedures, as clearly stated in the policy document, were followed.”
Baatweng emphasized that the promotions were neither prompted by the approaching the media by the soldiers nor was it a BDF’s attempt to appease the soldiers, further stating that promotions are done on a yearly bases whenever vacancies are available.
The process of continuous assessment of legible candidates for promotions, he said, makes the process impracticable to be done overnight as exceptional performance of the candidates and other qualities have to be looked at.
However, our sources claim that after the article was published, their seniors called them and assured them that no one would be sleeping in lecture rooms anymore and that the accommodation problem was being given the highest attention.
“With or without the article, there were still going to be promotions,” said Baatweng, adding that the article in question neither caused nor prompted promotion of the junior officers.