Police Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe has been heavily criticised by junior officers following an announcement that the Botswana Police Service (BPS) will use part of their savings to contribute towards the Covid-19 relief fund. It emerged this week that Botswana Police Service (BPS) and the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) ordered their members to contribute towards the fund, which government will use to assist mitigate the impact of Covid-19. This publication has learnt that BPS has reportedly set itself a target to contribute a total of P10 million towards the fund.
A source within the police service revealed that they were this week instructed to sign forms which authorizes for part of their individual savings to be used for contribution towards the relief fund. The source said the amount which differs according to police ranks will be deducted from their Saving and Loan Guarantee Scheme. The higher the rank the higher the deduction. Constables will reportedly contribute P550, Sergeant P1050, Sub Inspector P1500, Inspector P2000, Assistant Superintendent P2500, Superintendent P3000 and Senior Superintendent P3500. The Police Commissioner himself has reportedly pledged to contribute P6000. Aggrieved members of the police service complain that there was no proper consultation prior to the urgent requests. In one of the police stations, an officer indicated that they were only told about the request a day after Makgophe had met with their superiors. “The following morning after the commissioner had gone they brought forms for us to sign and we were told that they should be signed with immediate effect.”
“It appears this announcement comes to us when the commissioner has already decided on how we are going to contribute, they do not care if we agree or not, all they want is to give the President 10 million Pula,” a frustrated officer complained. He lamented that even though they are not in agreement with the said request there is however nothing that they can do to stop this from happening. The officers fears to be victimized should they not accede to sign the said forms. The victimization they highlight might come in terms of being denied promotions and opportunity to further studies. This is not for the first time that police officers expressed their grievances against Makgophe especially with regards to their benefits. The officers have previously complained that the commissioner ceased their housing and upkeep allowance without proper convincing reasons. ”That complain has fallen to deaf ears because its almost four years now and we are still not receiving such allowances,” one officer complained. In 2015 Makgophe wrote to his policing staff informing them that police officers across all ranks do not qualify for the said allowance by virtue of already enjoying free housing. The officers argues that the allowance was meant for all public servants with members of the police service included. “It was never said that the allowance was only for officers who are not accommodated by government. That the allowance was initially introduced as a Recession Relief Allowance and it is supposed be enjoyed by all civil servants who are below the E2 scale,” they pointed. While the officers appreciate the recent review of their salaries there are some who are still not happy that little is being done with regard to their general welfare and other concerns. This include issues such as lack of accommodation as the officers complain that they are still forced to share accommodation. BPS Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube has refused to comment on the matter noting that he cannot discuss police monetary issues with the media. “Those are internal matters so I cannot discuss them with you,” Motube said, briefly.