BY KHONANI ONTEBETSE
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has rescinded a controversial 2012 directive issued by former President Ian Khama which resulted in salary scales of some junior officers of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) shooting up.
The delinking exercise 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.
At the time it was introduced, a good number of diploma holders, mainly from the year 2004, moved many notches higher, while their counterparts in middle management remained stuck in the same positions and same salary scales, a move that divided the army.
Sunday Standard has learnt that when addressing soldiers at the BDF headquarters recently, Commander Placid Segokgo informed them that a new salary structure has been approved by the BDF Defence Council.
He said the new salary structure will results in all junior officers from colonel to the rank of private shooting up regardless of their specialization or qualifications. He said that he and other senior officers won’t benefit much from the new structure.
Segokgo also assured soldiers that while they were not unionized, they would also benefit from the public service salary increment that is scheduled to start from April this year. The result is that soldiers would benefit from the new salary structure and government’s decision to increase public servants salaries by 10 percent for A and B scales, six percent for C and D and 4 percent for other top bands.
Responding to Sunday Standard questions, BDF Director, Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Tebo Dikole confirmed that the new pay structure has resulted in the delinking exercise being rescinded.
“Ordinarily the BDF would not discuss internal administrative matters and processes with the media, but not withstanding that the BDF can confirm that salary increment for its members has been approved effective 1st April 2019,” he said.
He added: “Currently, the BDF is implementing the Unitary Pay Structure (alignment of salary scales with the military pay structure) which was approved through the Public Service Management Directive No 11 of 2003,” he said.
Dikole further stated that the effective date of the implementation could have been 1st April 2004 but owing to lack of funds, the unitary pay structure could not be implemented fully.
However, he said it was partially implemented through a de-linking exercise of 2012 which targeted only a few professions with the Defence Force.
It is against this background, Dikole said, that the Defence Council approved this realignment with the Unitary Pay Structure to effect 1st April 2019.
“The implementation of the Unitary Pay Structure will however, terminate delinking of pay from rank and rescind the Presidential Directive CAB 15(B)/2011 which implemented the delinking exercise,” he said.
He explained that those members who were delinked to salary scales above the envisaged entry point are going to be awarded a personal right whilst those who were de-linked to salary scales below the Unitary Pay Structure entry points will be adjusted accordingly.
“The implementation of the unitary Pay Structure will have no negative effects on members’ allowances. In its effort to improve members’ conditions of service holistically to include their remunerations, the BDF has in the past engaged various experts and institutions including Tsabadiri Consultancy,” he said.
It is understood that the BDF intends to use funds from development budget to finance the deficit created by the new salary structure.
The new structure is expected to cost the army an extra P584 million which will be sourced from the development budget.
Dikole said “it is worth noting that in pursuit of improving BDF members’ conditions of service or those of the public service for that matter, there will always be trade-offs which have a bearing on other equally important projects.”