Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini and his press secretary Percy Simelane are making it up as they go along when it comes to the need for more police officers in the kingdom.
Dlamini told newspaper editors at a meeting on Thursday (28 February 2013) that there was one police officer to every 700 people in Swaziland, but the figures ‘are supposed to be’ one officer to every 200 people.
This, he said, meant that Swaziland needed to employ more police to avoid compromising security. He said Swaziland must not reduce the security budget.
But he was wrong. In fact, if Swaziland were to conform to the average for policing in Africa it would need to reduce its police force by 2,356 officers.
Last month (February 2013), Simelane told the Times of Swaziland the accepted international ratio was one officer to every 400 people (half the number the PM came up with).
The Times published figures from the 2012/2013 Establishment Register from the Ministry of Public Service that showed the kingdom had 4,329 police officers.
It also found that the Central Statistical Office for the year 2012/2013 put the population of Swaziland at 1,055,506.
Based on these figures, the ratio of police officers to people in Swaziland was one officer to 244, the newspaper concluded.
The figure supplied by the Times contradicts the Prime Minister’s claim that at present in Swaziland there is only one officer to 700 people.
The Times went on to say that based on Simelane’s claim that there needed to be one officer for every 400 people, in Swaziland the police service was overstaffed by 1,690 officers.
Now, the Prime Minister has moved the goalposts and says the ratio has to be one officer to 200 people.
But Dlamini and Simelane are both wrong. A United Nations- published report International Statistics on Crime and Justice demonstrates there is no global average ratio for police to population. However, it shows in Africa, the median average number of police officers to population is 187 officers per 100,000 people.
If that figure applied to Swaziland there should be 1,973 police officers in the kingdom, not the 4,329 there are, according to the Establishment Register. To meet the average for Africa, Swaziland would need to sack 2,356 officers.
People in Swaziland are suspicious of the PM’s motives in demanding more money be spent on security.
This week the Times, in an editorial comment, said, ‘The message being sent by government to the ordinary Swazi on the street is that the government is hiring more officers to put down dissent, paying them comparatively well to ensure their loyalty.’
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