Ministers and their deputies will soon be under 24-hour armed guards protection. This is according to sources in the security services.
According to the sources, some government guards, who currently guard government buildings, are currently being trained in the use of arms in order to prepare them for the new duties.
That the guards are being trained in the use of firearms was confirmed by one security guard in Gaborone recently. According to him they were last year taken for a course in Mahalapye where they were taught the use of fire arms.
Asked if they were told why they were taught the use of fire arms, the guard said that they were not told anything.
“We were just asked to prepare for a trip to Mahalapye and on arrival in Mahalapye we were taught how to use guns but were not told why we were being taught that,” he said.
The guard also said that he was not aware of plans to turn some of them into ministerial body guards.
Currently, ministers and their deputies’ homes are guarded by government security guards. The move to train the guards in the use of fire arms comes after there was talk of outsourcing security in 2006.
According to the guard, in that year they were told that the government intended outsourcing their service but that it did not happen and they were not told anything about the issue for more than a year only to then be taken for a course on the use of firearms.
That there had been plans to outsource the security guards was in the past confirmed by presidential spokesperson, Jeff Ramsay, who defended the policy saying that it was in line with the government’s broader policy of outsourcing some services in order to improve service delivery. He was later not able to say what had happened to the plan after a year had elapsed with no progress being made.
Sources say that the plan to outsource the services might have been shot down at some higher level.
Two government departments in Gaborone are already being guarded by a private security company.
Some observers say that this will be a sheer waste of money because our top officials, let alone Ministers, have never been under any security threat.
”I have never heard about any top official, let alone a Minister, being attacked in the country. As such, I do not think it is necessary to provide them with bodyguards,” said the observer.
Ramsay was not available to comment on the issue as he is currently accompanying President Festus Mogae who is touring the country biding Batswana farewell as he is scheduled to leave office in March.