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No retired army officers is owed pension - Kgathi

Publishing Date : 09 July, 2018

Author : BAKANG TIRO

Defence, Justice and Security Minister Shaw Kgathi says there are no retired Botswana Defence Force (BDF) officers who are still owed their retirement pension packages as alleged by some Members of Parliament claim.


Kgathi told parliament this week that his ministry has no debts pertaining to retired army officers. Kgathi further refuted claims that BDF members retire into poverty due to inadequate pension paid to them. He said in 2001 the government moved from a Defined Benefit Scheme to the Defined Contribution Scheme as to improve pension packages.


Kgathi was in particular responding to Member of Parliament for Selebi Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse who had made numerous deliberations on issues affecting army officers and their welfare. He had asked the minister if he was aware that army personnel retire into poverty because of inadequate pension paid to them.


Keorapetse said there were still cases of soldiers not being paid their pension and wanted to know when the minister will address the issue. He added that the soldiers earn little and there is no satisfaction that the recent amendments to the Act will improve the situation. “Retired army officers’ welfare is compromised, their pension is not adequate to sustain them and there is also lack of follow up programmes on retired soldiers to asses and track their living after retirement,” charged Keorapetse.


However, Kgathi reiterated that soldiers’ are well provided for and their packages after retirement are enough to sustain them. He also pointed out that he engaged Actuarial Consultancy Services to review the BDF Pension benefits. He further said “The Consultants have recommended a ‘Defined Contribution Scheme’ with targeted benefits from privates up to Warrant Officer.”


He continued “I don’t know which BDF retired officers have retired into poverty. I only know that some politicians are the ones who find themselves in poverty upon retirement and in this house we have retired soldiers such as Pius Mokgware, Michael Molefhe and Kitso Mokaila who have not retired into poverty and are living just as other retired officers.”


Kgathi also pointed out that the recent amended Botswana Defence Force Act led to the retirement ages in the BDF being raised, save for the rank of Private and Lance Corporal which was retained at age forty five (45) and forty seven (47) years respectively.  He said the raising of the retirement ages was done in consideration of the fact that the increase of retirement ages will consequentially lead to a longer period of defined contributions with a net effect of ten to fifteen percent (10-15%) increase in the Net Replacement Ratio (NPR).


For his part, former BDF officer and Gabane–Mmankgodi lawmaker, Pius Mokgware said indeed there were soldiers who have retired and have not yet been paid their pension. He cautioned Kgathi against denying such serious matters as this one, advising that he should rather work on ensuring that the said retired officers get their pension pay-out.


Another legislator, Dr Phenyo Butale said the minister was taking lightly the welfare of army officers. “I am surprised that you say you are not aware that soldiers are owed pensions and you are also denying that there is a report showing the list of unpaid retired soldiers.”
Butale has also accused Kgathi of trying to sugar coat his ministry when addressing issues affecting the army officers welfare and said he (Kgathi) has once told parliament that the new BDF structure relating to the soldiers welfare has been given to consultants for reviewing although he now denies that.

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