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Soldiering on in the dark

Soldiering on in the dark
LIFE IN THE LIGHT: Soldiers at Donga Camp

BDF Donga camp’s week of darkness

There’s no urgency because all senior officers are powered by the only working standby generator in the camp, even their canteen has light and the drinks are cold

At the time of going to print on Wednesday night, soldiers stationed at Donga Camp in Francistown were hankering down for a sixth straight night without power.

According to concerned officers, they experienced what they thought was a normal power-cut in the early hours of Friday morning.

However, Sir Seretse Khama Day passed in a powerless blur, the holidays and then the weekend coming and going; still the motlakase remained AWOL.

“It was around 2am on Friday morning, and today, six days later, power is still yet to return,” griped an officer on Wednesday afternoon, adding he was on his way to his cousin’s place in China Town to fetch relish he has been keeping there since the power cut.

“I’ve taken all my meats and vegetables to my cousin’s house. I consider myself lucky because others have nowhere to go, they were forced to cook a month’s ration in just five days!” he said.

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The Voice has been informed there is an electric fault that needs attending to, but the BDF has been dragging their feet to address the situation.

“What we’ve learnt is that, only Botswana Power Corporation has the equipment needed to address the fault, but BPC has no means to transport the machine from Gaborone,” he said.

“The BDF has everything needed to transport such a machine. There’s no urgency because all senior officers are powered by the only working standby generator in the camp, even their canteen has light and the drinks are cold,” grumbled the junior officer.

Efforts were made to contact the BDF, who were yet to respond to a questionnaire sent to them at the time of going to print.

The Voice ran a similar story in October 2019 (Army in Darkness), which saw soldiers going for two days without power, and having to spend Independence Day in the dark after an explosion of an underground cable.

At the time, a well-placed source told The Voice that the military camp’s entrance, clinic, administration block, canteen and the armoury were all affected. This publication was also reliably informed that only one of the seven standby generators was in a working condition.

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In his response, Director of Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Tebo Kacho Dikole insisted that provision of electricity within the camp is not based on rank. Dikole said a private company was engaged to work on the maintenance of all standby generators.

“Furthermore the BDF wishes to state that the unavailability of electricity in any of its camps does not compromise its operations in anyway, since the Defence Force is capable of operating under any condition,” was Dikole’s parting shot nearly three years ago.

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