The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) condemns unreservedly the manner in which the government seems to be handling a thorny issue of national significance as in resolving pension grievances involving retired members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).

According to the UDC, they provide support and encouragement to retired soldiers in their demands and quest for payment of their appropriate pensions, a matter dating as far back as 1998 which is currently before the courts.

There is a legal dispute led by former Commander of the BDF Gaolathe Galebotswe, contesting the government's decision to move the pension plan of BDF members who enlisted prior to 1st April 2001 to the Botswana Public

Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF). Last year the court classified the case as a ‘class action’. The BDF and the Ministry of Defence has since approached the Court of Appeal to stop the 2000 plus soldiers from instituting legal proceedings as a group in a class action.

The class action, which was greenlighted by Justice Michael Leburu at the High Court on August 2, 2023, has become a focal point of contention between the two parties. Justice Leburu based his decision to allow the case to proceed as a class action on a myriad of reasons, emphasising the significance of the matter and the commonality of the issues raised by the former soldiers.

The UDC secretariat pointed out that they understand and appreciate that the retired soldiers are querying among others, the illegal and unlawful migration of their pensions as provided for in the BDF Act to the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund, of which the latter’s conditions of investment fell far short to benefit the military retirees.

“This has resulted with the retired soldiers failing to generate enough investment that will enabled them to buy an annuity such that they can afford to earn a decent monthly pension. Thus, condemning them to economic hardships and therefore candidates for employment in IPELEGENG type programmes post military service," the UDC said. According to the coalition, soldiers are men and women who provide security, safety to this country and had served with sacrifice, distinction and honour, therefore, deserve to be treated with respect and appreciation.

The UDC argues that it is regrettable that faced with such a straight forward matter, Government continues to fight retired soldiers through the courts on a matter that could be solved amicably and expeditiously. “The Parliament and the nation by now should have been taken into confidence regarding the nature and the modalities of the settlement. We therefore implore the government commit to its obligations to resolve this matter in a transparent manner and spirit that the president Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi has always articulated while addressing the nation in different fora and as he informed the Parliament that, 'we will settle’," the UDC said.