Thursday, October 22, 2020

BDF reverses new salary increase

The recent adoption of the delinking of salary scales by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), which resulted in junior officers shooting up, was an error, The Telegraph can reveal.

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.

But The Telegraph has learnt that a meeting was convened towards the festive season last year at which 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.

While he denied that the delinking system has not been reversed, the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, Civil Military Cooperation, Colonel Tebo Dikole confirmed that the new salary structure was under review.

“The delinking of pay from rank has never been reversed. It is ongoing and under review to cater for all eligible professionals and specialist cadres. It aims at achieving parity between members of the Defence Force and their counterparts in the Public Service,” he said.

According to Dikole, 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.

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.

Meanwhile, the BDF has flexed its muscles against officers who are facing drink and driving charges; the offences were committed while the officers were off duty. At least 38 out of the 40 officers facing drink and driving charges have been interdicted and suspended from duty.

“You may wish to note that according to the Road Traffic Act, road traffic offences are criminal in nature, and the BDF Act Section 117 (1) categorically states that “Where a person subject to this Act is under investigation, with a view to the institution of criminal proceedings against him, either before a civil court or a court martial, the Commander, or any officer so authorised by the Commander, may suspend such person from the performance of his duties pending the outcome of such investigation, or the outcome of the proceedings arising there from,” said Dikole on being asked to comment on the issue.

But officers accuse the BDF of double standards, saying senior officers facing similar charges have not been interdicted in the past.

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