The appointment on a two-year term of Lieutenant General Placid Segokgo as the sixth commander of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) has left the question of successor hanging. Usually commanders are appointed for five-year terms. Who then will be the army’s long term commander? Information gathered by this publication has shown that General Segokgo is only left with two years before he reaches the statutory retirement age of 55. His contract will come to an end in September 2018, four months after President Ian Khama has retired from office. Those close to the echelons of power have revealed that this was President Khama's plan to have the next President choose his own commander after he retires in 2018. Another challenge was that had Khama appointed anyone outside the top two senior Generals, it was going to cause tension within the army.
"Though the two Generals – Segokgo and Morake – are about to reach their statutory retirement ages it will be disrespect to bring someone junior to command them at the end of their careers," revealed the army source. A military source has revealed that by not stating any new development in his inaugural speech except improvement of conditions of service is a clear indication that he won’t stay long at the helm of the 39-year-old army. “Thus my focus as Commander of the BDF shall be in the five key areas of capability, improvement of our conditions of service, finalisation of the BDF Act Review, the provision of ready trained forces all underpinned by our values,” he said, adding that he will implement the roadmap outlined by his predecessors. One of the reasons that are said to have convinced President Khama to appoint Segokgo as commander was his ability to boost the morale of army officers which is said to be at its all-time low.
He is regarded as a charismatic leader and can connect easily with the lower rank and is an original thinker. His deputy Major General Morake is also on his last lap as the army officer as he is also near retirement as they are both of the same class. Sources at SSKB have revealed that General Morake might retire first to allow the smooth transition from Segokgo to his successor in 2018. This has wide opened the succession plan at BDF with three names being mentioned frequently in the corridors of SSKB.
Major General Mpho Mophuting
The current Director Support Services General Mophuting is one of the favourite to take over as the new commander of the BDF in 2018 and has recently returned from some courses in USA. Mophuting is one of the Generals who were promoted recently and one of the officers who are said to have good leadership qualities. "He was groomed by President Khama while he was the commander of the BDF and was destined for military leadership," revealed a source at SSKB. Among his qualifications Mophuting hold three masters degrees - Master of Business Administration (MBA), Supply Chain Management, Master of Science (MS), National Resource Strategy at National Defense University, Washington DC, USA and Master of Arts, International Security Studies & Civil Military Relations Naval Postgraduate School, California, USA.He recently completed Certificate, Senior Leadership Course at Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (Washington, DC) and Certificate, Developing Effective Policy: Analysis and Use of Evidence at Royal Institute of Public Administration. He has previously held the position of Director, Policy, Strategy and Plans.
Major General Molefi Seikano
He is currently the commander of the Ground Forces and going by history of BDF succession he is the most favourite to take over. Most of the former army commanders have previously headed the Ground Forces Command. He has previously commanded second Infantry Brigade – the largest in the army – thus giving him the much needed experience as the army commander. General Seikano is viewed in the army as a humble leader but very tough when it comes to discipline as dictated by his special forces training.
Major General Seleka Innocent Phatshwane
General Phatshwane is viewed as one of the cream deli crème of the new BDF leadership. Commander of the Air Arm Wing, General Phatshwane's promotion has been phenomenal having been promoted from Colonel to Brigadier in 2011 and appointed deputy commander, Air Arm in 2012. In 2015 together with General Seikano they were promoted to the rank of Major General and he was appointed Commander of the Air Arm command.