Chief of the armed forces, President Ian Khama, has extended the contract of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commander, Lieutenant General Tebogo Masire, military sources say.
Masire took over from Lieutenant General Matshwenyego Fisher in 2006. He would have retired this year, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 55. Senior army officers are required to retire at 55.
The previous commanders retired at that age except for Khama who retired at 45 in 1998.
However, according to sources, Khama has extended Masire's contract by two years.
Masire became one of the BDF's initial officer cadets in the late 70's, soon after the army was formed.
Masire's contract was extended just after his former deputy, Major General Pius Mokgware, was retired this year under strange circumstances.
It was initially expected that Mokgware was to become the next BDF commander but there were other developments that led to his retirement.
Mokgware, who was also the commander of the ground forces, did not leave the BDF a happy man telling one of the local newspapers that he was offered two options; to go and head the Botswana Police Service or the Botswana Institute of Administration and Commerce (BIAC). He turned the offers down.
Tiroyamodimo, who was Mokgware's junior, was elevated to
Masire is the BDF's fourth commander since the army was formed in 1977. Former BDF commanders include Khama and Vice-President, Mompati Merafhe, who was the first. When Merafhe retired in 1989 there was a smooth handover to Khama.
Khama also handed over to Fisher when he retired in 1998 to join politics. Masire is the only BDF commander who had his contract extended.
Khama's spokesman, Sipho Madisa confirmed that Masire's contract has been renewed. However, Madisa said he could not get information on how long the contract has been extended for because he was not in his office. The BDF public relations office declined to comment.
This is not the first time Khama has extended the contracted of a senior official of the disciplinary forces who was supposed to retire. The president has also extended the contract of the Commissioner of Police, Thebeyame Tsimako. Tsimako was supposed to retire this year after reaching the retirement age of 60 years but Khama renewed his contract for two more years. Police officers are retired at 60.