A Bill that empowers Botswana Commissioner to peep into his juniors bedrooms has elicited mixed feeling among legislators who fear that it amounts to interfering with the officers’ private lives. Defence, Justice and Security Minister Shaw Kgathi has already brought the Police Amendment Bill for a second reading.
The Bill seeks among other things to include a provision that will compel officers to seek permission to cohabit or marry a foreign national.
The government through the ministry argues that the move is meant to deter any incident that could put the country’s security at risk as a result of those individuals who might fall in love with officers with a whole intention of siphoning information that could put the security of the country in jeopardy. Kgathi explained that the police amendment Bill which among other things compels police officers to seek permission before engaging in love affairs was aimed at improving police office working conditions.
But Francistown South Member of Parliament, Wynter Mmolotsi questioned the wisdom of the amendment Bill arguing that a number of issues such as police officers working conditions need to be addressed as opposed to bringing a motion that has nothing to do with appalling conditions of service for police officers.
He indicated that Kgathi’s plans are aimed at interfering with police officers private lives. The legislator questioned the minister why he was concerned with who slept at police officers bedrooms while no one bothers the minister on who slept at his house.
Kgathi did not take kindly to Mmolotsi’s statement and heckled him while still on the floor. He warned Mmolotsi that he was older than him and expected to be respected.
“What do you want Mma Kgathi to tell you? Culturally a youth like you has to respect an elderly man like me,” added Kgathi.
But Mmolotsi stood his ground and further indicated that it was disheartening that the minister was focusing on laws that are not improving the welfare of police officers. He said that there has never been an explanation why there was a huge salary disparity between constables and Botswana Defence force private officers.
He said the government has never taken police seriously hence they are paid lower wages than their counter parts. Meanwhile Shashe West MP Fedelis Molao wondered why there was need to regulate the social lives of officers. The legislator advised that there is a need to go back and reflect on the amended Bill which he referred to as a law that regulates sex.
In an interview Gantsi North MP Noah Salakae indicated that the law that the minister brought in parliament touched on human rights issues.
“To say this law requires an expert to interpret amounts to a joke. The law is simply illegal. No question about that. It is not only an infraction of men and women in uniform’s fundamental right to dignity and freedom of choice, it also contravenes the provision of our constitution which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, tribe, sex, place of origin, marital status, colour or creed,” added Salakae.
He argued that having a law that denies one to marry a person of their choice is an indication of clear discrimination on the basis of marital status.
He went further to explain the argument that this type of marriage and relationship is a security risk to the country as police officers may share state secrets with their partners is a fallacy and demeaning to the men in uniform.