Vol.23 No.167

Tuesday 7 November 2006    
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No special treatment for female soldiers - Masire

Staff Writer

11/7/2006 3:13:28 PM (GMT +2)

Women who join the Botswana Defence Force will not be given any special treatment and will be subjected to the same tough training their male counterparts undergo.

"They will follow military standards and be required to walk 100km in the burning sun, with a pack on their backs, just as male soldiers do," Lieutenant General Tebogo Masire said at a press conference yesterday.

He said that BDF is waiting for the Defence Council to approve their plan but insisted that the recruitment of women soldiers will start next year. He could not reveal what the requirements for the new recruits would be.

Masire warned that in military practice soldiers of different levels cannot engage in a love affair. "If an officer is caught falling in love with a junior he is fired immediately, that is an international practice," he said.

However, the recruitment comes at a time when the force has a serious shortage of accommodation with a backlog of 4,000 housing units that need to be built. Masire said that the housing problem could only be addressed through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and would require at least three years to tackle the problem. He said that trying to address the shortage of accommodation through BDF annual budget would take more than a decade.

The army has been grappling with the accommodation problem for many years, since the days of former Commanders Lieutenant General Ian Khama and Lieutenant General Matshwenyego Fisher, he said, which resulted in the soldiers renting houses in Gaborone and villages not far from the barracks.

Even the Francistown Camp has a similar accommodation shortage.

Masire said that the BDF has good relations with the civil society and that former soldiers are not a threat to civil society. He was responding to a question, which suggested that former military officers are engaging in criminal activities at a high rate and sometimes in gangs. He said there are such incidents of former officers being involved in criminal activities but there is not much the BDF can do.

"Once a person retires from BDF we do not have control over his life," he said. Masire assured reporters that BDF would continue assisting the police in the fight against crime and the influx of illegal immigrants into the country.

He said that the BDF cannot determine what should be done about the illegal immigrants' problem and they only take instructions from the police. "If they tell us to seal the border we will do exactly that," he said.

Masire who was accompanied by BDF Public Relations Officer Mogorosi Baatweng said that the BDF would continue their lead in the fight against AIDS. He said that in the near future every soldier would be required to know his status and a campaign in the prevention of new infections would be intensified. Masire is aged 51 years old and may retire in four years time. However, he said that if the president of that time wishes to extend his contract he would accept the offer. Send us your comments about Mmegi newspaper Search For Old Newspaper Editions To advertise contact us through email

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