Khama BDFRMA Patron

| April 27, 2015

President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama has accepted Botswana Defence Force Retired Members Association’s (BDFRMA) request to be their patron.

President Khama announced his decision when addressing BDFRMA’s annual general meeting in Palapye on April 24. This was in response to the request made by the association’s chairman, Major General Bakwena Oitsile.

The President said he saluted the retired soldiers in that they sacrificed a lot with vigour, enthusiasm and courage to defend and honour Botswana. He said more often than not, people did not know the day to day activities involved in the defence of this country and it was assumed that soldiers just stayed put in the barracks.

He said Batswana should appreciate that BDF had been and was standing guard day and night providing the security blanket that ensured that countrymen slept peacefully at night.

“It is often said that we should always remember that serving one’s country is the ultimate expression of love for family, friends, neighbours and general citizens in Botswana,” he said.

President Khama gave an example regarding patriotism about a soldier who joined the BDF during the days when Botswana was up against the rebel regime in Rhodesia today Zimbabwe. He said when the soldier was given his salary aice slip, he (the soldier) asked his seniors what the paper was for and did not understand what the numbers on it meant.

“His seniors told him that it was his salary and what he was going to be paid. The soldier responded by saying that he did not know that they were going to be paid but rather they were going to be provided with food and fight the regime to protect the country,” he said.

He explained that the soldier joined the force knowing in his mind that he was fighting for his country not expecting anything. He said like most of the retired soldiers who joined the force during that time and are part of the BDFRMA, they too were patriotic and have to be commended and recognised.

“During that time, we did not have sufficient equipment, weapons, vehicles and flying machines, but you came forward to sacrifice your lives against an enemy which was much better equipped and resourced than us and that was the kind of sacrifice we are talking about,” he said.

President Khama said he hoped that all Batswana appreciate what it was that the soldiers were prepared to do during those very difficult times and they deserve recognition because it was something worthy of consideration.

“When you walk around you should keep your heads high for what you have done for your country,” he said.

The President explained that the BDF did not only perform such duties but also engaged on duties such as during disasters whereby members of the BDF were called upon to come and rescue members of the society.

He said soldiers also assisted the police in combating crime, department Wildlife and National Parks in combating poaching as well as actively participating in combating pandemics like HIVAIDS and the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease among other things.

President Khama thanked the soldiers for their professional disposition not only nationally but also during international peacekeeping missions such as in Somalia and Mozambique amongst others. He said the BDF flew Botswana’s flag very high and made the nation proud.

“I also remember during that time that some of the officers in other armies that we were serving alongside with us used to come to me and say that should they ever be asked to choose another army that they would like to serve next to in international missions, it would be the BDF because of their perfections,” he said adding that these were words from armies from very developed countries.

President Khama also said he remembered when the BDF was in Mozambique, the special representative of the United Nations Secretary General by the name of ‘Ayello’ said that if he was ever called upon to lead a peace keeping mission in any country, the first country he would ask its army to come and serve would be Botswana.

The President cautioned the soldiers to take the time to remember their colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice and passed on during all these assignments.

He commended the retired soldiers for setting up the BDFRMA. He said he gly believed that in pursuance of their mandate, they would involve in conducting seminars and workshops to prepare those currently serving for civilian life.

“Share your experiences with them so that they can avoid some of the hurdles that you had to go through. Underscore to them that ‘Espirit de Corp’ should be continuous in the barracks and post active service,” he said.

For his part, Major General Oitsile explained that BDFRMA was initiated in 2008 by retired soldiers with the intension to address welfare of retired soldiers. He said his organisation partnered with Liberty Insurance Company for funeral cover and other life insurance benefits.

He called on other officers still in their service and retired to join the association for their own benefit and the benefit of the association.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Governance

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