Gaborone — Botswana Defence Force has made history by admitting 382 females of lower ranks to the army. In the intake, 657 males graduated.
Speaking at a pass out parade for basic military training course intake 68 and 69 on Friday (September 11), BDF Commander, Lt Gen. Gaolathe Galebotswe said the milestone came with its own challenges such as provision of appropriate amenities as well as management of relationships as female soldiers now presented a sizeable number across the ranks. Lt Gen. Galebotswe said they were still faced with accommodation challenges for both garrison operational requirements.
However, he said it was their endeavour to re-arrange their limited resources to navigate the challenges they faced.
He told the graduates that soldering was not just a job, but a commitment to serve the nation. He said they should bear in mind that they had chosen a career which an ordinary civilian would not consider.
“You have answered the calling to hardship and personal sacrifices. In this endeavour, you have entered into a covenant with the people of this country, and that they can rely on you for their security and well-being,” he said.
He also told them that they had chosen to forgo some of their privileges such as the right to unionise and indulge in political activities. He said their daily duties included guard duties on military operations such as aid to the civil authority and anti-poaching.
“Remember when you are on duty, you are the eyes and ears of that particular unit or formation, therefore a rhino or an elephant killed by a poacher is not just an elephant or rhino, look at it as a free education, free house services, and infrastructure development for the citizens of this country, hence each one of you must have the sprit of service and patriotism,” he said.
Lt. Gen Galebotswe emphasised that as a developing defence force, issues of fraternisation remained in the leadership radar, and that they shall not be tolerated hence it was prohibited across the ranks.
He said any member who engaged in any warranted behaviour would have earned themselves a ticket out of the defence force, irrespective of their stature.
He added that the BDF policy on fraternisation related to personal relations that contravened customary bounds of acceptable senior subordinate interaction. Meanwhile, nine graduates were given special awards and the best graduate in drill, Phenyo Mmegwa said she was happy to have been recognised as the best in that category.
She said she was the only female recruit private to be given the award and that she would forever cherish and treasure it. She said even though training was difficult, she enjoyed it and had learnt to adapt in the bush.