It is now the ninth month since the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) suspended volunteer or reserve soldiers and there are no signs that they will be recalled any time soon.
Colonel Paul Sharp, BDF’s Director of Protocol and Public Affairs, said, “Volunteer and reserve soldiers programme was not called off; it can be resumed anytime, should there be an operational requirement.”
Sharp said the last group of the volunteer force ended in December 2010, adding that there they were about 150 volunteer soldiers that were recruited.
He said the reason why volunteer soldiers were recruited was to augment operational imperatives, especially along the borders, and they can also be used for any demand of duty.
He, however, denied allegations that they were ill treated.
“This is not true, they were all treated as soldiers,” he said.
Meanwhile, some of the volunteer soldiers, who refused to be named, told the Telegraph that they were “very disappointed by the way the BDF treated us, especially when we were told that the recruitment had been call off indefinitely”.
They questioned why Botswana Police Service has not called off Special Constables while the BDF, which has a serious shortage of manpower, did so and added that they were deployed along the borders where they contributed to fight cross-border crime, especially pouching as well as Foot and Mouth disease.
They argue that since they were called off, elephant poaching has increased, adding that even outbreaks of foot and mouth disease are being reported.
“Mokgware treated us with dignity as compared to others who we shall not name,” they said and appealed to BDF to revisit its decision and recall them to assist in national duties that need serious attention.