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Ceremonial Guards Bring Action Against ‘Divisive’ BDF

INNOCENT SELATLHWA
BDF's Ceremonial Guard Unit are demanding Special Forces allowance PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Soldiers of the Ceremonial Guard Unit are fed up after with their employer denying them Special Forces allowance and have since instructed their attorneys to sue the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) if the matter is unresolved in 30 days.

The unit is responsible for State House Guard, Ceremonial Parade, Presidential, Escorts and VIP Security.

According to papers from their attorneys, Corporal Obert Matlhape and 70 other members of the BDF Ceremonial Guard Unit, they complain that they are being unfairly and unreasonably denied the Special Forces allowance notwithstanding the fact that government has decided through its various white papers that members of Special Forces should be duly paid.

“It would appear that though government had decided that Special Forces members be paid the allowance, the BDF high command has decided to use payment of allowance to divide and favour the Commando section of the Special Forces over the Ceremonial Guard Unit, who are also members of the Special Forces.  This in our considered view is wrongful, unlawful and highly divisive and amounts to unjustifiable discrimination of similarly circumstanced employees of the same organisation.

The conduct of the BDF High command is therefore susceptible to a legal challenge as we intend to do in the event that BDF wishes for an outright legal confrontation,” read the court papers.

The attorneys argue that their clients are entitled to the said allowance because they were trained to

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Special Forces standard in tactics, a standard near to that of the commando squadron.

They also state that from the beginning of the unit in 1988, members of the Ceremonial Guard and Commando units enjoyed the same allowance and both received special hazard allowance.

“On or about December 9, 2015, the then commander lieutenant general G Galebotswe issued a savingram to the Accountant General, main salaries, Ref C/ HQ/3/19 titled upgrading of salaries and payment of allowances in which he authorised that only members of the Commando Unit be paid Special Forces allowance,” according to attorney documents. They further state the matter has been a burning issue since then and that the clients continued to receive special hazard allowance of about P600 while Commandos get 30% of their basic salary as Special Forces allowance.

They argue that discussions over the matter have not borne fruit more than 50 months later.

They caution that if the matter is not resolved within 30 days, they would approach court seeking an order to declare their clients as eligible for the allowance and that they be paid the money dating back to when they joined the unit.



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