Private security to get police training in Zimbabwe

A police officer shoves Mugabe's portrait into a bin. Archive Photo by Chris Mahove

Security unions welcome the government’s proposal for extra training for guards but do not trust the government enough to provide it.

Trade unions organising in the security sector in Zimbabwe are not opposed to the idea of security guards receiving the same training as the police but are opposed to it being done by the government.

The Zimbabwean government is proposing that private security guards receive police training in the wake of a spike in armed robberies in the country, a move that has been received with mixed feelings by security stakeholders. Armed robberies have been on an increase in Zimbabwe, a large number of them involving former and serving soldiers and police officers.

Minister of Information, Communication and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, said cabinet had approved changes to the current legislation in an effort to improve the capabilities of security guards in fighting crime. “Cabinet resolved to review the Private Investigators and Security Guards (Control) Act (Chapter 27:10) in order to improve the private security industry to ensure that only police-trained guards work in law enforcement,” Mutsvangwa said during a post cabinet briefing to local media in Harare.

Since private security guards complement efforts by the police to wrestle crime in the country, she noted that they need to receive formal training.

Zimbabwe Security Guards Union (Zisegu) president, Siphikile Muchini said that although cabinet had come up with a noble idea, the union feels that the training of private guards should not be done by government, and that instead, there should be a central recruitment point for security guards. “That is what we have been advocating for although we were not saying the government should carry out the task of training the guards. We are saying let us have a regulatory body or institution where security guards are trained and recruited from by all companies,” he said.

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Muchini said the current spate of armed robberies is putting their members at risk because they lack proper training as the companies currently training guards are doing it just for money. Inadequately trained private guards, he said, are no match for the more advanced armed robbers who happen to be former and serving members of the military and the police who will have received comprehensive training, including in the use of firearms.

Muchini said security legislation must also license security guards to shoot robbers, saying current statutes only license the employer and not the guards. “The guards are only weapon handlers who have no license to shoot. We would appreciate if we can have legislation that also empowers the guards to shoot robbers when they are under attack,” he said.

Training alone, however, will not be enough to address the welfare of security guards. “Their remuneration must be closely monitored; how can someone guarding millions of dollars’ worth of property be given a wage not enough to meet basic obligations such as rentals, school fees, medical expenses and transport? The government has to seriously look into that as negotiations at the NEC are led by employers who are arrogant,” Muchini said.

The president of the Zimbabwe Private Security Association (Zipsa), Tapson Madzivire, said security companies are better placed to train guards, but that government was supposed to have first consulted all stakeholders before reaching the decision. “Government can’t simply say we want to train. We are the professionals in as far as security guard training is concerned; yes they can have areas, maybe the training of alarms,  but the aspects of commercial security and physical security I am sure we have more expertise than the ministry itself. So we are just waiting to be consulted to see how that can be done,” he said.

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He said government should first revisit the Security Act before they do anything and thereafter, consult all stakeholders.

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