- Govt introduces new security minimum qualification

- Security 'guard' nomenclature to be replaced by 'officer'

Private security employees are worried that the development of the minimum training standard for private security officers by the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security will result in loss of jobs.

The ministry is in the process of developing the minimum training standards in collaboration with stakeholders including representatives from private security companies and Business Botswana. The sector has for years operated without any guiding instrument, which led to security companies operating without any stipulated entry level thereby employing personnel with no suitable qualifications, low wages and bad working conditions, among others.

Chairman of the Security Officers Association of Botswana (SOAB), Bakanani Morapelo told The Midweek Sun that since the beginning of the consultative fora between the ministry and stakeholders across the country regarding the private security minimum training standards, their members have expressed concern that they may eventually lose their jobs.

Others are worried that they may not be able to fund further studies. Morapelo, who is part of the Private Securities Service Licensing Board that has been empowered by the new Private Securities Act of 2015 to set minimum training standards, assured security officers that the intention is not for them to lose their jobs. Instead he said the training standards will ensure that the sector does not lag behind but operates professionally as many security company employees have not been trained to a level where they are professional.

"There is no need to worry, because 'prior learning' will be considered for many of those who have worked in this industry for years. “Employers will also have do their part to take their employees for further studies and later on claim from the training levy," Morapelo said. The new Private Securities Act of 2015 that was enacted in 2020 established the Private Securities Service Licensing Board that has been tasked with setting minimum training standards that will eventually be accredited and registered in the National Credit and Qualification Framework by the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA).

The Board, which is responsible for licensing, supervision, training, monitoring to improve the private security sector has since February this year been engaging players across the country in areas including Kang, Jwaneng, Gantsi, Maun, Palapye, Selibe Phikwe, Francistown and Kasane, with the last consultative forum held in Gaborone.

“We need your views to help complete areas of competence for the industry as stipulated in the Act,” Chief Inspectorate Licensing Officer in the Ministry of Defence, Ross Sanoto told private security players at the Gaborone consultative forum recently, adding that part of what they should do as a requirement is to consult players before submitting to BQA for approval at the end of this month.

Sanoto said the ministry has put together a Minimum Training Standards Committee (MTSC) comprising of experts drawn from sectors of education, security and administration, both from public and private sectors. Sanoto added that through the consultations, they wanted to hear views from consumers including government, councils and individuals on what they expect from the training. “We want to know what form and nature of security services you need, as this will guide the process of coming up with training requirements,” he said.

They also wanted to gather views of private security companies on the type of training they need in order to execute their services well. “Officers need to tell us how they need to be capacitated to serve,” he said, adding that after the process is complete, there will be a standardised minimum qualification for security officers that will be at par with others in the region and internationally. Member of the Minimum Training Standards Committee, also from the Teacher Training and Tech Education sector, Mainole Monametsi also assured officers that the process was not meant for them to lose their jobs or to embarrass those that have not reached certain levels of education. He said it was meant to improve quality and relevance, as well as professionalise the sector.

At the end of the process, he said posts of security ‘guards’ will be done away with and replaced with ‘officers.’ This, in his view, will go a long way in improving the country’s competitiveness in terms of labour. According to Monametsi, the training will also ensure implementation of security operations in the work place. Monametsi added that qualified officers will need to know how to operate security equipment and systems to respond to security hazards in the work place. “Most professions nowadays are implementing the use of technology and this is to ensure that the security profession is not left behind.”

He said that the formulation of the minimum training standard for security officers is critical now more than ever, as it aligns to Vision 2036 Pillar Four of Governance, Peace and Security that speaks to Botswana being a peaceful country with low levels of crime. The Private Securities Act stipulates that a licensee shall not employ or engage any person as a security guard unless he fulfils the minimum requirements and qualifications.