Some members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) have taken their Commander to court over the reduction of their salaries and unpaid benefits. The 14 employees, lead by Thatayaone Seboko, accuse the BDF Commander, Placid Segokgo of arbitrarily cutting their salaries and failing to pay their benefits without any prior consultation.
The suit is a result of a de-linking exercise that was carried out by the BDF in April 2012 where the applicants enjoyed the benefits that came with the exercise until December 2012.
Before then, applicants enjoyed increased salaries, entitlement to housing, scare skills and professional allowances owing to their respective qualifications in Diploma in Accounting and Business Studies.
According to the court papers, the applicants want the decision of the Commander reviewed and set aside on grounds that it was unlawful, discriminatory, unfair and did not accord them equal treatment.
“We are not paid in terms of the de-linking exercise whereas the other employees of the BDF are paid, yet we have similar positions,” read the papers before court.
The applicants argue that the Commander breached the rules of natural justice in failing to afford them a hearing on the issue as they had legitimate expectations that they would continue benefitting from the de-linking exercise.
The soldiers argue that they believed that they would continue with the adjusted or increased salary and allowances.
“The applicants had a legitimate expectation that they would continue benefitting from the de-linking exercise in the sense of the increased salaries and the allowances that came with it.
“It accordingly came as a shock and disappointment when these were abruptly stopped
The applicants said whatever the reason the Commander had to reduce their salaries and allowances, it would have been more appropriate for him to meaningfully engage with them on the issues with a view of fully communicating its contemplated decision and the reasons thereof as well as appreciating and addressing the concerns raised.
The employees reckon that if such had been done, the Commander and the authorities would most probably have realised the exercise’s errors at an earlier stage and the dispute amicably resolved without need for the current proceedings.
“The Commander, instead opted for the unfair unilateral decision, which undermined the possibility of a dialogue.
We are holders of the same qualifications as those de-linked and we cannot be excluded, and not benefit from the de-linking exercise,” further argues.
The employees also submitted that there was no lawful justification to treat them differently from their counterparts who have been de-linked as such conduct is a clear violation of the right to be fairly treated, or the right to equal protection.
Attorney, Patrick Sepego acts for the army men while the Attorney General represents Segokgo. The matter is before Justice Godfrey Radijeng.