- Most say they want to protect their pensions
- Many fear being labelled ‘Khama loyalists’
The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Botswana Police Service (BPS) are undergoing their most difficult periods following a sudden avalanche of early retirement notices from a host of their high ranking officers.
The officers say they are leaving in order to protect their pensions which they believe are under risk of depletion because of a likelihood of markets collapsing in the advent of COVID-19. However, some say mistrust is reigning supreme in the upper reaches of the public service and that they are quitting because they have grown tired of being tagged Khama loyalists.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the global economy and exposed the fragility of public pension systems worldwide. Sudden job losses, shuttered commerce and collapse of stock markets have exacerbated the solvency crisis of many pension systems, according to experts. Some senior officers in the disciplined forces left with three or so years to retire have been advised by financial experts to quit now and cash in what they have so far accumulated.
The Botswana Gazette has established that as a result, the human resource offices of Botswana’s disciplined forces are inundated with notices to quit from high ranking officers. Several such army officers have confirmed, to this publication, that they have opted for early retirement while many senior police officers say they foresee a serious fight over progression because of the emergence of a tendency of pointing to some officers as being pro-Khama.
Several police officers are reportedly unhappy that differences of opinion over operations have earned them the tag of ‘enemy of the state’ when they try to render genuine advice. These officers say tensions between ex-president Ian Khama and President Mokgweetsi Masisi have sown serious divisions in law enforcement circles to a point where many have resorted to agreeing with everything proposed by those deemed to be ‘the President’s Men’ to avoid being regarded with suspicion.
So serious is the rift that these loyalty issues have not spared the highest ranks in Commander Placid Segokgo and Commissioner Keabetswe Makgophe. But when these allegations first surfaced at the BDF, the army responded strongly, saying its members, including the High Command, are professionally bound to serve the government of the day and not individuals. “It is therefore misleading to make claims that the BDF leadership is loyal to individuals,” the BDF said.
Early in the course of these divisions, security agencies were rocked by disputes over investigations into former Khama enforcer Isaac Kgosi where the Botswana Police Service was accused of dragging its feet in securing a new warrant for a joint operation with DISS, DCEC and BURS. It soon became clear that the discord was spreading to other law enforcement agencies.