Mathambo’s Return to BDF Causes Ripples

  • Commands salary higher than those of most of his superiors and peers
  • Retired Commander says without appropriate adjustment move could jeopardise chain of command
  • Mathambo currently on leave of absence


The return of the former head of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Joseph Mathambo, to the army is causing ripples at the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) where it is feared it could confuse the chain of command. This is because Mathambo’s salary is equal to that of the Deputy Commander of the BDF and considerably higher than the salaries of most of his superiors and peers.

He retains the F-O scale that he commanded at DCEC. At the BDF, the F-O scale is the preserve of the army’s second in command, Major General Gotsileene Morake, to whom Mathambo – a brigadier – is a distant subordinate. The Commanders of Ground Forces and Air Arm are also Major General posts.

Sources within the army say Mathambo seems misplaced at the BDF and that his superiors and peers are not sure of what to make of his return after he was redeployed by President Mokgweetsi Masisi recently. This week army spokesman Colonel Tebo Dikole confirmed that Mathambo had resumed his duties but had been granted leave of absence.

Former BDF Commander, Lieutenant General Gaolathe Galebotswe, has also told The Botswana Gazette that Mathambo’s return to the army was bound to lead to challenges. “His re-turn will cause problems if it is not already doing so as it is likely to distort the chain of command as devised by the current leadership,” he said. “The appropriate thing would have been to out-process him at DCEC because his relevance to the BDF was over the moment he was assigned to DCEC.”

According to General Galebotswe, it is “very surprising” that Mathambo should be transferred to the BDF at this stage. “It does not make sense at all,” he noted. “He should have long been removed from the BDF establishment. If this was not done, it points to poor leadership. The former Director-General of DISS, Colonel Isaac Kgosi (rtd), should serve as a case in point here. We removed him from the establishment. At his level, he would have returned to the BDF as Chief of the Defence Force (CDF). Similarly, with his salary scale, Mathambo would be more appropriate going back to the BDF on promotion as CDF or as Deputy Commander.”

General Galebotswe gave Colonel Justice Sebolao as an example of appropriate redeployment. The senior army officer was once seconded to the Department of Prisons and Rehabilitation as Commissioner. “After a couple of years, the colonel was transferred back to the BDF but was promoted to the rank of brigadier,” he explained. “However, these two cases are not anywhere close to what we see in Math-ambo’s case. Perhaps we will hear something along those lines soon enough.”

General Galebotswe said without such an adjustment, the situation could prove disastrous for both Mathambo and the BDF. “It would not be in accordance with best practices in human resource planning and development,” he emphasized.

But former Head of Finance at the BDF, Brigadier Charles Nkele, says Mathambo could be deployed to any of the several top vacancies within the army, including Commander of the Air Arm and Director Organizational Support or Strategy Management at the Ministry of Defense, Justice and Security.

Mathambo, who left the BDF as Inspector General responsible for audit, joined DCEC to replace Bruno Paledi who had himself not been long in the position. Upon being contacted, Mathambo said he was not yet in a position to comment.