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Ministry of Defence Justice and Security(MDJS)
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER IN RESPONSE TO UTTERANCES MADE BY ...
05/02/15
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER IN RESPONSE TO UTTERANCES MADE BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION REGARDING PARTICIPATION BY MEMBERS OF THE BDF IN POLITICS AND ALIGNMENT TO POLITICAL PARTIES

 

STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER IN RESPONSE TO UTTERANCES MADE BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION REGARDING PARTICIPATION BY MEMBERS OF THE BDF IN POLITICS AND ALIGNMENT TO POLITICAL PARTIES

 

Madam Speaker,

                  

1.           I thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a statement on a matter of national and public interest.

 

2.           I am making this statement in response to utterances attributed to the Leader of the Opposition and Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington North, Honourable Duma Boko, that appeared on the Telegraph newspaper dated 28th January 2015 titled “BDF Soldiers support UDC” and the Echo newspaper dated 29th January 2015 titled, “Soldiers are no longer Khama’s pets.”

 

3.     Honourable Boko is quoted as having said that his party, the UDC, has attracted a considerable number of high ranking Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Officers who have vowed to support him and his party. He is further quoted claiming that a group of some high ranking BDF fighter pilots have approached him and assured him of their support for his party.  The truth of the matter is that soldiers who are alleged to be pledging their support to the UDC are very agitated by these incitement tendencies and have asked me to publicly refute these allegations. I have not seen or heard of any rebuttal of these allegations which then may imply that his interview with these papers has taken place.

 

 

4.     If then this is the state of affairs, such statements have the potential to permanently damage the reputation and professionalism of the BDF as well as erode the code of discipline and allegiance to the Constitution among the ranks. Furthermore, comments of this nature when uttered by public figures such as legislators, particularly implicating service members on infringement of laws and regulations governing their employment and conduct, have the potential to cause anxiety among the BDF members and mislead the public.  

                                                             

 

Madam Speaker,

 

5.     As leaders we are charged with the responsibility, among other things, to ensure that there is peace, law and order in the country. We are custodians of the laws and regulations passed by this Honourable House including those regarding the establishment and operations of the BDF.  I am therefore, surprised by the Honourable Member to be quoted to have been openly encouraging members of the BDF to be active in politics and thus violate the law.

 

6.     Such unfortunate utterances which are attributed to legislator may be interpreted to be intended to deliberately undermine discipline and command of the BDF.

 

 

7.     My Ministry and the Botswana Defence Force have on numerous occasions, before and prior to the 2014 General Elections, pronounced the BDF position as an apolitical organisation as stated in our laws and policies. Once again we reiterate that BDF members are prohibited from active participation in politics.

 

8.     This principle is guided by the provisions of regulations 62 and 75 of the Botswana Defence Force (Regular Force) (Other Ranks) Regulations and Botswana Defence Force (Regular Force) (Officers) Regulations respectively, which expressly prohibit active participation by BDF members in politics. The regulations define active participation in politics as any actual or passive association with political parties in the country. Any conduct that may be construed by the public as amounting to such actual or passive association is prohibited and punishable under the BDF Act (CAP 21:05).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        Madam Speaker,

 

9.     I therefore, stand here to assure Batswana that the BDF remains an apolitical institution that has high regard for the Constitution of Botswana and laws governing its existence. It will thus, at all times, ensure that their actions support and respect  the Constitution of Botswana and all the institutions  established under the provisions of the Constitution of Botswana i.e. the  Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.

 

        I thank you, Madam Speaker

 

 

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