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The amendment of the NPS Act needs redrafting

04 June 2013, 14:05 Paul Orodi

The National Police Service was re-established under the constitution to be headed by an Inspector General and two deputies to head the Regular and Administration Police units. This was seen as a move to cut down the heavy and to some extent absolute powers of the chief of police which were actually being used to the negative end.

With the scaling down of the police chief’s powers, there came a new body tasked with overseeing the recruitment, promotion, transfer and disciplining of the police service personnel. This is in accordance with article 246 of the constitution that outlines duties of the National Police Service Commission.

On the other hand, the Inspector General was left with the task of commandeering the National Police Service. However under article 245 (4) (b), the IG is not to be directed by anyone on how to conduct employment, assignment, promotion, suspension or dismissal of any member of the National Police service. This aspect of the IG’s office causes a struggle between the IG of Police and the National Police Service Commission.

However, with the recent amendment drafted to effect changes to the National Police Service Act, the IG of Police will be handed all the powers and responsibilities of recruiting, assigning, promoting and disciplining any member of the National Police Service.

From the corridors of the civil societies to the open streets of the common mwananchi, this has caused uproar over how powerful the IG might end up being to the extent of even slowing down reforms intended to change the whole police service into a disciplined and service-oriented body.

Some arguments for the proposed amendments make sense as well as those against. How then do you approach such a scenario? How do you calm the storm when you realize that both arguments are favouring some positive outcome? Which side do you lean on if you are the Commander in Chief or Secretary in charge of security apparels?

Based on what I have read and analysed, it is only fair to merge the two offices of IG and Chair of the NPSC, not literally but rather hypothetically. It will be vital to allow for the two offices to consult at length on issues regarding human resources since the IG knows who fits where best while the Chairperson of the commission has the access to at least two retired senior officers and a person suited to be a judge.

Through the advice of the three experts on law and enforcement, the chairperson can be able to consult and come to an amicable solution with the IG.

It will not be proper to have all powers vested in one office since this might create a power cloud that can be used very negatively in the journey of reforms.

To have the IG tasked with the responsibility of managing human resources without having checks and balances from an independent body, he or she might end up creating his own empire in terms of re-assigning, promoting, recruiting and even disciplining of the policemen and women.

There is a reason why the office of IG has a maximum tenure of only four years; it is so that the IG may not be able to consolidate power in his office to the extent that when he leaves office he still has some control of cronies.

On the other hand, to have the NPSC dealing with all the human resource work on its own is a risky affair. This is because they do not know the real challenges facing the police service. The commission also has no clue of who is best where and why simply because different areas have different risks and threats and therefore only qualified personnel currently serving in the police service can be able to identify suitable personnel to challenge certain risks and threats.

Therefore it is only fair that the human resource task be split between the two offices namely; the IG and the chair of the NPSC so as to create some kind of stability and continued reform process.   

With this kind of scenario, the police service might be able to operate smoothly since the excesses will be under check and any discrepancies or inefficiencies will be addressed impartially.

Personally I think it is only fair to water down the amendment in order to accommodate the two offices which are tasked with overseeing the police service namely; office of the IG and office of the Chair of the National Police Service Commission.

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