The Botswana Defence Force has read with interest the lead story that was carried by your Newspaper, Sunday Standard dated 18-24, 2010.
As much as we appreciate and recognise the role played by the media, especially on matters of security and democracy, it is on this matter that this organisation needs to highlight, particularly in relation to the retired Major General Pius Mokgware’s retirement and some sentiments he shared with you.
It is not in our interest as the BDF and that of Batswana in general for us to respond to matters concerning individuals singularly those who separated, but we are prompted to act in such a manner if the said person in his capacity continues to bring the name of this organisation into disrepute.
Of course, prior to his retirement, he was part of the defence force’s High Command, privy to the many activities in the military. But that does not in any length and breadth suggest his utterances are the sole truth.
We acknowledge that this is a public interest news article, but there are six factors we would gladly like to clarify and set the record straight.
Firstly, it is very unfortunate that the retired Major General does not share with you the same opinion he shared with the BDF High Command via a telephonic conversation with Col.Mogorosi Baatweng, Director of Protocol and Public Affairs, upon inquiring about his chosen date for the proposed farewell.
The BDF has adopted the normal practice of making voluntary contributions towards his retirement, and the response was overwhelming and positive. The only remaining item for the farewell preparations was the date from him. His telephonic communication on that day prompted the High Command to reimburse the contributors because he did not appear to be cooperative and willing to attend. Notably, the telephone conversation totally varies with what he told Sunday Standard.
Secondly, though Major General Mokgware is fairly read, he is by far not the most educated soldier even in his retirement today. For the record, BDF had a PhD holder, who retired last year and many officers with more than one Masters Degree in the field of business, strategic management, and law engineering and information technology. Some officers are currently reading for a PhD.
Thirdly, the award of medals to members of the BDF has no bearing on promotions. As a result, being bestowed the Duty Code Order at the rank of Colonel did not suggest he would always be ahead of the pack or have it easy during promotions.
Fourthly, welfare issues have and will always top the list of our priorities. Welfare schemes were started while Major General Mokgware was still a junior officer in the BDF.That is why currently BDF employees have the best welfare among the civil servants.Therefore, the military High Command considers the issue as a continuous process which cannot be achieved overnight as this has been made even worse challenging by the global economic stagnation that affected business and institutions alike of recent.
Last but not the least, in relation to the insinuations alleging that most BDF Officers rose up the army command with BDP cards in their pockets, the statement is not only misleading but unfortunate because the Botswana Defence Force Act forbids active participation in politics as outlined in regulation (75) (1) which states that: no Officer shall commit any act which is prescribed by this regulation as being an act constituting active participation in politics;
a) Joining or being associated with an organisation or movement of a political character
b) Canvassing any person in support of or otherwise actively assisting an organisation or movement of a political character
c) Displaying or wearing rosettes, favour, symbols, posters, and placards or likely articles having a political significance.
d) Attending a political meeting or assembly when wearing a defence force uniform or any part thereof likely to identify him with defence force
e) Asking question from the floor at a political meeting
f)Publishing views of a political character or causing them to be published in speeches,broadcasts,letters to the press,articles,leaflets,posters,placards,books or otherwise; and
g) Any other act or conduct whatever of an officer whereby the public might reasonably be induced to associate or identify him with any organisation or movement of a political character.
For the above reasons they is no member of the BDF, the Commander and the deputy Commander included, who is a card carrying member of any political party, including the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Lastly, this defence force is not aware of any mutiny or mutinous acts by its members, maybe the retired Major General is much informed and better placed to notify us.
Colonel Mogorosi Baatweng
Director, Protocol and Public Affairs
Botswana Defence Force