Botswana Defence Force faces potential mutiny by soldiers who earn next to zero every month because of a blunder committed by the army when it erroneously adopted the delinking of salary scales which resulted in junior officers shooting up, information passed to the Sunday Standard has revealed.
Minister of Defence Justice and Security Dikgakgamatso Seretse recently found himself at the receiving end of angry soldiers when addressing the army on the fallout of the de-linking blunder.
Sources inside the BDF reveal that the army high command has been mooting meting disciplinary action against soldiers who were rowdy during the minister’s adr4ess. It is understood that the attempt to discipline the errant soldiers is being frustrated by some members of the army command.
The new army salary structure was introduced to ensure that selected professionals and specialists in the military with similar qualifications with their civilian counterparts in the Public Service are not disadvantaged when it comes to basic salary. But the BDF committed a blunder by making it apply to all its employees.
The result is that the reversal of this exercise has reduced earnings of a considerable number of officers next to nothing on monthly basis because they had to reimburse the army and personal debts. Observers have raised serious questions as to what is being done to address the blunder and are concerned that this poses a security threat.
Responding to Sunday Standard queries, BDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Charles Oye conformed that some officers were affected by delinking.
“Some people were affected by delinking but this is a confidential matter which cannot be disclosed to a third party,” said Oye. The army also declined to shed light on how it is addressing the issue of their officers “pocketing almost nothing month end.”
It has since emerged that the bank account from which money was used to pay officers when delinking was implemented has attracted the attention of the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS).
However, Sunday Standard was unable to establish what the bank account was for and how BURS got involved in lunching the investigations. But sources claim that BURS unearthed millions of Pula from the bank account in question which the BDF failed to account for. Oye said BDF was not aware of the bank account.
For her part, BURS Principal Communication Officer Matshediso Pule said they were bound by the confidentiality clause not to divulge information to a third party.
“As BURS we are bound by the confidentiality clause in our revenue laws not to disclose information on taxpayers to third parties, therefore we cannot comment or react to your statement,” she said.
The delinking of salaries at the BDF last year in October saw all certificates, diploma and degree holders progressing to higher notches in the past month. The soldiers’ progression had been backdated to April 2012, resulting in some soldiers pocketing P60, 000 in back pay.
The adoption of the delinking exercise saw a BDF private with a certificate now earning as high as P9, 237 while a BDF private with a diploma can earn as high as P16, 326. Sources say, with the new adopted pay system, it was possible that a soldier in the rank of private or lance corporal earned more than their boss if they have a higher qualification.
At a meeting was convened towards the festive season last year, some soldiers were told that the upgrading on the salary structure was erroneously adopted. It is understood that soldiers were informed at the meeting that those who were not eligible for the new structure could be forced to reimburse, a move that is said to have angered the officers.
The announcement that those who benefitted from the new structure while they were not eligible for it should reimburse the army is reported to have not gone down well with a considerable number of soldiers. The affected soldiers intend to petition the Defence Council, which had approved a new pay structure for the BDF.
BDF referred this publication to the Defence Council for further details. The Chairman of the Council, who is also the Minister for Defence and Justice Security Ramadeluka Seretse could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone rang unanswered.