A number of Botswana Defence Force soldiers are threatening to take the government to court in protest against what they term unfair working conditions.
The soldiers who have been working for the BDF since 2001 on ten-year contracts have already instructed attorney Duma Boko of Duma Boko and Company to caution the army commander Major General Tebogo Masire that, “we shall proceed to place the Attorney General’s chambers on notice in terms of the relevant legislation so that in the event this matter is not satisfactorily resolved, we may proceed to seek redress from the courts without any delay”.
In a letter to the army commander, Boko states that the soldiers who, according to the terms of their employment, have a choice to either part ways with the BDF or apply for re-enlistment either on the same terms or on a permanent and pensionable basis, complain that “they are being pressured to re-enlist, thus renewing their contract with the BDF”.
States the letter: “Nothing has been or is being said regarding their contract gratuities or severance benefits. Throughout their period of service, they have been paid only half their committed allowances, and the explanation for this was that the rest of their allowance is being applied to the acquisition of tents, equipment and equipment for their use while on trips. This has been carried out on all of them irrespective of whether they did go on any trips or the regularity of their trips”.
This is in spite of the fact that according to their employment contracts, the aggrieved soldiers are “entitled to all the rights accruing to every soldier of their rank and station, including the right to be provided with such equipment and machinery as shall conduce to the performance of their duties”. Boko further states that, “despite the fact that they have been working 24 hours a day, they have only been remunerated for only 8 hours of a 22 hour monthly cycle.
This is, in reality, inconsistent with the reality of their working conditions and is unlawful, unfair and improper; it would appear that they are being treated, in respect of any terminal benefits they are entitled to, as if they were employed on permanent and pensionable terms with the fact of their own non renewal of contracts, being regarded as an unlawful termination by them. This is most irregular and unlawful.”