Monday, July 5, 2010

H.E Lt.Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, at the official Opening Ceremony of the Botswana Police Service 39th Annual Senior Officers' Conference

source: Republic of Botswana (20/6/10) TAUTONA TIMES no 8 of 2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery"


Director of Ceremonies, Honourable Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security Commissioner of Police Deputy Commissioners of Police Senior Police and Government Officials Conference Participants Invited guests, Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I am happy to have been invited to address senior Commanders of the Botswana Police Service at this year's annual conference.

2. I am informed this gathering brings together a cross section of senior police officials across police formations countrywide to review current strategies and performance thereto as well as map the way forward. As most of you are no doubt aware, I have had the opportunity to address this conference in June 2008. During my address, I categorically highlighted some key strategic deliverables on which I expected immediate results.

3. Amongst others, I demanded substantial reduction in crime and road fatalities; the need to address the increasing indiscipline on our roads and decisively dealing with police corruption.

4. In order to ensure that Botswana continues to attract sufficient investment from the international business community, the BPS and other supporting law enforcement agencies should substantially suppress crime in all its forms. We cannot afford to be terrorised by criminals any longer; instead every Motswana including visiting foreign nationals should feel safe and secure both in the privacy of their homes and out there in the streets.

5. I am happy to note that your performance for the past year has recorded notable successes as demonstrated by some reduction in recorded crime. You were able to reduce corporate targeted offences by 7% and realised improved detection rate. This is commendable and I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to continue to do more. Crime remains a source of concern for most Batswana and this is a clear demonstration that we still have a long way to go in terms of reversing this disturbing phenomenon. I therefore challenge you to mobilise and fully commit resources at your disposal towards reducing crime.

6. Having said that, I implore you to take advantage of this gathering to interrogate in a holistic manner, your current strategies and come up with implementable solutions geared towards suppressing crime. We should always be seen to be ahead of criminals in our crime fighting strategies.

7. Road safety has been a concern to both Government and the public at large for quite some time. It is however, encouraging to note that the number of road traffic accidents per ten thousand (10 000) registered vehicles has taken a downward turn. The unfortunate phenomenon is that fatalities have gone up. You should therefore in collaboration with other stakeholders work towards ensuring significant reduction in road traffic accidents which often lead to deaths and serious injuries.

8. The amended Road Traffic Act with enhanced penalties is meant to act as a constant reminder to the road user of the legal requirement to observe road traffic laws at all times. As already alluded to, the death toll arising out of road traffic fatalities is too high and this state of affairs cannot be tolerated. In this respect, I urge you to ensure strict enforcement of this legislation. Hopefully, this will reduce fatalities on our roads.

9. My Government has taken a decision to allow the police to retain funds accruing from traffic fines. This is a bold step taken specifically to ensure that the police are adequately resourced to deal effectively with issues of general crime and road safety. I am informed a lot of ground has been covered in terms of ensuring the smooth implementation of this initiative. I in turn expect you to reciprocate by affording Batswana good value for their investment.

10. Commissioner, I appreciate your concerns that the deferring of some development projects will have far reaching implications for law enforcement in this country. But as you are all aware, we cannot wait until the situation improves. Consequently, the only viable option is to do our best with what we have or as I remind everyone from time to time, to do more with less.

11. The Botswana economy like the rest of the world has been frustrated by the global economic down turn. Despite the current financial challenges, Government will strive to ensure equitable distribution of available resources, the police included, to ensure continued and improved service delivery. Resources will also be availed for training and development in order to capacitate officers to better perform their roles.

12. The introduction of new Branches in the BPS such as Air Support, Crime Intelligence, Stock theft and Internal Affairs was meant to enhance BPS operational capability and efficiency. The establishment of the Internal Affairs Branch should especially ensure elimination of complaints and corrupt practices involving police officers.

13. It is necessary that you as the leadership of the BPS move swiftly to deal with instances among some members of this organisation to solicit for and accept bribes. A number of reports have reached my office whereby police officers were caught perpetrating criminal activities. Consequently, I expect the formation of this Branch to assist cure this counterproductive malady.

14. Furthermore, I am deeply concerned by the deteriorating levels of our cultural values as a nation. One of the causes of this unfortunate development is overindulgence in alcohol and other drugs. To respond to this potentially destructive phenomenon, Government took a decision to reduce operating hours for alcohol outlets and other associated businesses. The recently introduced additional levy on alcohol was intended to finance education campaigns against alcohol and drug abuse.

15. I am fully aware that this has not been a very popular decision amongst some of our people. But as a responsible Government, we have gone forward with this move because we believe it is bound to yield positive results. I am inclined to believe that part of the reason for a decline in overall crime is as a result of this intervention.

16. Community participation in public security issues is paramount if the police are to win the war against crime. I am happy to learn of the significant contribution made by the introduction of the concept of policing by clusters in preventing crime. Naturally, I would like to encourage you to maintain this momentum until you earn the support of all the communities. It is only when the community shows its abhorrence of crime through demonstrable action that any criminal effort will be frustrated.

17. The recently introduced volunteer programme has been extended to BPS to augment crime prevention efforts. I am informed that this initiative is currently being piloted around Gaborone. My hope is to see it rolled out to other stations soon.

18. For these volunteers to add value to your efforts, it remains every Commander's personal responsibility to ensure that they are properly deployed, supervised and adequately guided to do a good job.

19. Another initiative intended to further improve service delivery and ensure better utilization of resources is a decision to merge the Local Police Force with the Botswana Police Service. It is pleasing to note that the merger has been successfully completed and associated emerging challenges adequately addressed by the relevant stakeholders. I should however, emphasize the need for continued collaboration and support between the police and Dikgosi to ensure continuity of service to the Tribal Administration.

20. With all these resources at your disposal, you can do a lot to enhance service delivery. I therefore expect a significant reduction in the levels of crime and the associated fears. Whilst I appreciate your efforts to provide acceptable levels of service to Batswana, I believe there is still room for improvement. To achieve service excellence in the fight against crime, there is need for Law Enforcement Agencies to build partnerships and thereby promote continued cooperation and collaboration amongst themselves. This move will ensure continuous improvement in the way they do business.

21. In conclusion let me take this opportunity to thank all of you, both in your individual capacities and as an organisation, for your invaluable contribution towards the provision of safety and security to Batswana. I remain optimistic that at the end of this conference, you would have come up with achievable resolutions that will closely inform your policing agenda. On this note, I wish you a productive conference. I thank you for your attention. PULA

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