Saturday, August 13, 2022

Contributions to Police Commissioner’s retiring fund not entirely voluntary

It turns out that the official version that it is voluntary for serving police officers to contribute towards the retirement fund for a police commissioner is not correct, after all.

The often posited version by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) Public Relations Office is that serving police officers are neither forced nor coerced to contribute when an incumbent commissioner retires.

BPS spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Christopher Mbulawa, has always maintained that the officers are not forced to contribute while some within the police service have maintained that the existence of a systemic and undue influence directed at the officers to make the contributions which run into thousands of Pula.

Some junior police officers have gone to the extent of accusing their superiors of forcing them to make the so-called ‘voluntary contributions’.

In some cases, they lamented threats of losing out on promotions in the event of refusal to submit to making the contributions.

While the official version is that the contributions are a voluntary exercise, the stringent record keeping of the exercise points to the contrary.

When former police commissioner Thebeyame Tsimako retired, a savingram from Officer Commanding No.1 District, signed by one B. Motshwane dated September 11, 2012 and addressed to newly appointed Commissioner Keabetswe Makgophe, pointed to a systemic coercion exercise as it outlined in the district’s entire staff compliment, including their ranks as well as the amount expected to be raised in the collection exercise.

No.1 District, which comprises of the police stations of Tatitown, Matsiloje, Tonota, Gerald Estates and Kutlwano, was expected to raise P53 895. Instead only P20 400 has been received while in the official document leaked to Sunday Standard, P33 495 is still outstanding.

It remains to be seen how the Officer Commanding will go about collecting the outstanding amount and some officers are apprehensive that since a comprehensive report of those who have contributed is available, it will be easy for the defaulters to be chased around and made to pay.

The schedule of the contributions from No.1 District shows that the police district has one Senior Superintendent who was to part with P200 as well as 12 superintendents who were to contribute P2 400. At these two categories all 13 contributed.

At the rank of Assistant Superintendent, 14 officers out of the 15 contributed while only 22 contributed at the inspector rank, which boasts a compliment of 32. Only 16 sub-inspectors contributed out of 34 while at the sergeant rank, 48 are listed as having contributed, with 49 listed as outstanding.

Sixty constables contributed out of a compliment of 323 while industrial class employees contributed with 17 registered as outstanding.

From 209 special constables, only 49 contributed as well as the secretaries for the district.
Sources within the police say a comprehensive list of those who have contributed and those who have not contributed has been compiled so as to deal with those who have not.

“If there is no systemic coercion, why was such a comprehensive record compiled? Apart from its compilation being a laborious exercise, what was the importance of compiling it if it was not meant to subject us into submission? Obviously some of us who have not contributed are going to be punished one way or the other? This is a clear sign that while our superiors maintain that this is a voluntary contribution, it is not”, said a concerned officer who has not contributed.

He added that not in to the distant future, he suspects that any of those officers who have not contributed will be punished one way or the other.

“Some immediately submitted to making the contributions so as to gain favour with their superiors as they will be viewed as being loyal while some of us will be labelled dissidents,” said the concerned officer.

As he officially retired from the police after 40 years service, among the many gifts Tsimako got is a tractor that is understood to have been bought with the money raised from the contributions.
Mbulawa could not be reached for comment on the total amount raised at the time of going to press.

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