The man who has been Botswana Police Commissioner for the past three years, Edwin J. Batshu, has officially retired from office.
Although he had been at the helm for a comparatively short spell (three years), Batshu had been inside the Police Service for close to forty years, making him undoubtedly one of the longest serving officers in the country.
In Batshu’s place, President Festus Mogae has appointed Thebeyame Tsimako, again one of the longest serving and, we may add, loyal hands in the Service.
We welcome Tsimako in this very important national position, and wish him all the best. It is not an easy position to occupy. There are many interests and expectations to meet.
We have since learned that because of age, like Batshu, Tsimako will also retire in three years.
We, however, want to implore Tsimako to bring to the police a kind of leadership, passion and zeal that were so much a character of his immediate predecessor.
We observe that although he did not stay for much longer, Batshu was determined to leave behind a strong and lasting legacy.
His determination was to inculcate a code of professionalism and erode the growing culture of corruption in the service.
Of course, Batshu was blessed in that he inherited strong foundation from Norman Moleboge, a career police officer who had, during his tenure, insisted that the Police had, to be transformed from a kind of Para military force, feared and shunned by the public into an approachable community service personnel that looked and perceived the community as clients who had to be served and respected.
That said, Tsimako comes at a time when, like the rest of the sub-region, Botswana is grappling with a rise in sophisticated and well organised crime.
The deteriorating political and economic situation in neighbouring Zimbabwe is certainly not making the situation any better.
Batswana are also now much more discerning and, as a result, increasingly demanding.
Nowadays Batswana scrutinize the public service and Tsimako will find that his office is no exception.
Because of these reasons, his challenges are much higher than those of his predecessors.
As a result, to fare well in his job, Tsimako will have to be much more imaginative and proactive than his predecessors.
He could even find himself demanded to come up and make new and more creative recommendations to his principals in government on how to deal with the illegal immigrants from that country as it has become clear that hoarding them into trucks everyday and delivering them at the Plumtree border post simply does not work.
The current measures are putting a strain on Botswana’s financial resources, which, we want to emphasise, are not infinite.
While building on the legacy of his predecessors, Mr. Tsimako has to come up with a totally new raft of measures that will appropriately deal with the difficult situation.
We can only hope that while indeed the man has been an integral and very senior figure of the current way of doing things inside the Police Service, Commissioner Tsimako would also be able to stem violent forms of crime like robbery and rape, which are also on the rise in Botswana.
That is a very big challenge for Mr. Tsimako and his charges.
We note with assurance that the Service is working round the clock to form an Air wing.
That is long overdue.
Only increased presence in the streets and around commercial and business areas is likely to deter what seems to be increasingly determined and more violent criminals.
Of course policing, however well resourced and efficient, is bound to fail unless it is accompanied by other measures and reforms including political and economic as a way of addressing the underlying causes of crime in our society.
We could go on and on stating the challenges facing Mr. Tsimako as he ascends to this very important and one of the country’s most senior public offices.
But an experienced police officer he is, he knows better what the responsibilities entail.
We can only hope that he appreciates the growing frustrations and helplessness of Batswana in the face of what is by all means growing difficulties brought about by hitherto unknown forms of violent crimes and wayward behavior, not least a result of deteriorating political situation in the region.
While we all work towards a political settlement in Zimbabwe, we cannot, in the meantime, fold our arms, do nothing and hope that Robert Mugabe, the source of the region’s many troubles, will one day die and everything get back to normal.
We count on people holding influential offices like Mr. Tsimako to do whatever is possible to mitigate the negative effects on our lives in the meantime.