Budget speech fails to address key issues on crime and security

Experts on defence and security have condemned yesterday’s proposed budget to the National Assembly, saying it has failed  to address fundamental challenges such as crime and police officers’ welfare.

University of Botswana Lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, Dr Gladys Mokhawa said various surveys undertaken coupled with anecdotal evidence of the level of crime in Botswana are clearly demonstrating disturbing trends of serious crimes with significant increase in armed robberies.  She said the character and intensity of these crimes demands a robust, resourced and effective public safety framework, and so the budget allocated to those responsible for ensuring public safety is far from enough. “Even though, there is a welcomed allocation of P771.61 million of allowances to security personnel, P204.65 million for vehicle replacement requirements for BDF, Police and Prison Services, it falls short of what is required. It has been pointed out that the operational effectiveness of the Police can be limited by shortages of resources. So more allocation should have been given to Police and Prison Services as they are predominantly at the helm of public safety,” she argued.

Former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander of Ground Forces and also Member of Parliament for Gabane-Mankgodi, Major General Pius Mokgware said the bulk of the Defense and security budget has been allocated to defence, leaving much less for major problematic areas such as crime, which he said should have been one of the priority areas. “I don’t think they are doing enough for crime and police officers. These people are suffering on a daily basis, they work under unconducive environments that many would not want to work under and yet results are expected from them. They have shortage of vehicles, manpower and most of their offices need a lot of renovations, so government should come up with a strategy to address such issues that affect the morale of our officers.”

He said there should be a policy that will guide the police per population ratio because there are areas that still rely on neighbouring towns and village for policing due to lack of infrastructure and manpower. This according to the Major General, results in late responses and police officers being overworked without any encouraging remuneration.

He said, “We need to boost morale of our police officers by giving them decent remuneration. They work under a lot of stress without any incentive and the same thing applies to our military officers. Training for special cases is also needed because there are cases they can’t deal with because of lack of training but the budget did not cater for such issues.” He further noted that there should also be an appropriate system of promoting military and police constables because as it stands, there is no progression in their line of duty, saying an officer can serve as a constable for up to 19 years without any progression.