Parliament has been informed that President Ian Khama has refused to pardon 19 soldiers who are currently enlisted in the British army who tried to apply for retrospective approval of their enlistment and Presidential pardon. Answering a question from the MP for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse, Acting Minister of Justice, Defence and Security Eric Molale said there are 29 Batswana who are currently enlisted in the British army.
According to Section 3 (1) (Cap 26.01) of 1980of the Foreign Enlistment Act, it is mandatory for any Motswana who wants to enlist in foreign army to apply to the president. Molale said that all the 29 Batswana who are enlisted in the British army did not apply to the president to seek permission. He said should they try to come to Botswana they will be prosecuted. In 2012 a Motswana serving in the British army Sapper Poloko Hiri faced deportation to Botswana after he was charged with over speeding offence.
His case caused furore in Britain as some accused the British government of betrayal after he served the country well as they felt that should he be deported he will face jail term in Botswana for enlisting in the foreign army without seeking permission from the president. Hiri said he joined the British army after he realised that he was too old to be accepted by Botswana Defence Force.
One of the few people to have been granted permission to serve in foreign army is President Khama’s nephew Marcus Patrick Khama ter Haar. He was trained, like Khama, at the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in Britain and served in the British army for 10 years, rising to the rank of major. He has said that he was granted permission by the then President Sir Ketumile Masire to serve in the British army. Currently he is working as the Deputy Managing Director of Okavango Diamond Company, a government owned company dealing with marketing of rough diamonds. He oversees the Security, IT and Communications Departments.