The Botswana Defence Force has noted with regret that some political figures are using the photographs of the members of Botswana Defence Force on their political campaigns particularly in social media. The case in point is the posts circulating in social media depicting BDF members on Mr Dithapelo Keorapetse’s UDC online campaign posts. This trend does not only discredit the BDF as an apolitical organization, but also creates a false perception associating the BDF with such political parties, which is against the laws of Botswana. As members of the BDF, the BDF Act prohibits partisan politics; hence we cannot be associated with an individual organization or movement of a political character as clearly spelt out in the BDF Act, Section 150 (1), A person subject to this Act shall not – (a) become a member of a political party or be associated with an organisation or movement of a political character.
The BDF cannot deny any political figure to reference it in their campaigns; however, images of soldiers and officers cannot be used in campaign materials without due consideration. Using any member’s photo may be construed or misconstrued to associate such individual or individuals with such political party hence contravening the BDF Act.
It is on this account that the BDF wishes to inform the concerned political parties and individuals to act responsibly by desisting from using photographs depicting any BDF activity, equipment, personnel in uniform or any other things that may be deemed to be associated with the BDF for political gain or for anything that is likely to create the impression that it was for political gain. Additionally, using the
photographs of members of the BDF, especially clad in uniform without their personal consent constitute a violation of their personal rights and may compromise their status as apolitical members of BDF hence contravening the BDF Act. It also goes without saying that the involvement of BDF members in their uniform can be prejudicial to the individuals concerned by contravening Section 272 of the BDF Act which reads “A person who- (a) without authority, uses or wears any service decoration, uniform or any badge, insignia of rank, wound stripe or emblem supplied or authorized by the President or the Defence Council, commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.”
The BDF wishes to inform the public that it remains an apolitical organization and consequently hopes that pictures of BDF troops/officers and equipment will be removed from political campaign material of the afore mentioned. The integrity of Botswana’s public institutions including that of the BDF should be kept sacrosanct and it is the BDF’s hope that other political candidates will not engage in such activities.
Tebo Kacho Dikole
DIRECTOR, PROTOCOL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
BOTSWANA DEFENCE FORCE HEADQUARTERS