A Botswana Defence Force (BDF) members contributory fund, with contributions amounting to P165 million, has been frozen pending investigations of misappropriation of funds by army officials tasked with its administration.
Scores of soldiers applying for loans are being turned down despite the fact that money continues to be withdrawn from their accounts as subscription to the fund. This was confirmed to parliament by Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Dikgakgamatso Seretse.
Seretse was answering a question from Francistown South legislator Wynter Mmolotsi midweek on the purpose of the fund and whether or not it is still operating. Seretse’s response has also been confirmed by BDF’s Director of Protocol and Public Affairs, Colonel Kacho Tebo Dikole.
The fund was set up in 1991 from BDF officers’ contributions as in a bid to encourage a culture of saving within the army. In 2007 the Welfare fund was registered as a trust fund to assist soldiers who make monthly contributions.
“Currently there is an ongoing audit of our financial statements for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 by our external auditors to conform to the requirements of establishing a trust. The fund has not been suspended, but rather what has been suspended is the processing of new loan applications pending investigations into allegations of fraud. Subscriptions to the fund and repayments of the loans to the same are ongoing,” said Dikole in a written response to the Sunday Standard.
Despite confirming the fraud investigation, Dikole denied allegations of mismanagement on the fund. He told this paper that at this stage it was not yet clear as to when the processing of loans will commence suggesting that soldiers will have to wait for a while until investigations are complete.
From the fund, soldiers are able to borrow up to P20 000 payable in three years at 10 percent interest. In the meantime, however, Dikole says that since BDF has a scheme arrangement with at least three local banks, BDF officers should get soft loan assistance from the said commercial banks.
Dikole also disclosed that the army had appointed Alexander Forbes as the administrators and the army had for instance been able to invest in companies like Stanlib, Investec and Afina.