- Say military retirees lead lives of unimaginable destitution
- Ex-army men feel betrayed by their government and nation
- Say their noble gesture to place the nation before themselves has not been reciprocated
A retired soldiers’ movement called “A Re Itshekeng” recently made time to pay homage to their Lesoma Valley colleagues who were killed in an ambush by Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe) forces in 1978.
Led by their chairman Major General Moeng Pheto (rtd), the former servicemen said the blood of the Lesoma valley victims was meant to pave way to everlasting peace for Botswana for generations to come and bears testimony to their selfless service.
Read their statement delivered at the site in Gaborone: “Regrettably, this noble gesture of volunteerism to place our nation and its people before self have not been reciprocated by those that we looked forward to taking care of us as we embarked on this … mission to protect our republic.
“We have never imagined ourselves taking our government to court for her failure to honour her part of the contract that we entered into when we pledged our allegiance to this great nation and its people.
“How could we be so distantly wrong? Today, a military retiree lives a life of unimaginable destitution as a result of poor decisions made post 1998. Retirement is meant to be enjoyed by the senior citizens. But how is this possible when the one you have entrusted with your life failed you?”
The former soldiers said most military retirees do not earn P500 a month, which is a far cry from the old age pension allowance.
“This is despite one sacrificing everything in life, including youthful life, to serve this great nation and its people,” the statement said. “Some were following in the footsteps of our departed colleagues to avenge their demise.”
According to the former army men, “sizeable members of retired (the) military community occupy the bottom strata in our national earnings and survive on handouts or doing menial jobs like Ipelegeng, de-stumping of farmer’s fields, herd boys, etc.”
They said this is despite putting 20 or more years of arduous field work without pursuing favourable job opportunities elsewhere, loss of civil liberties and prolonged separation from their families.
“The standard of living for our military retirees has not in any way perturbed the powers that be in the Government Enclave,” the statement continued. “They have instead turned a deaf ear … to our plea.”
A Re Itshekeng is currently embroiled in a court dispute with the government over their welfare issues.