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MANZINI – There is uproar within the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) as some officers are aggrieved over their pay for working during the 2023 General Elections’ registration.

The aggrieved police officers said on Tuesday, their superiors in the various police stations, informed them that no officer should file a claim exceeding 27 days, yet some of them worked throughout the registration exercise - which meant that they provided security for 40 days. In the Kingdom of Eswatini, the general elections for Members of Parliament (MPs), constituency headmen (tindvuna tetinkhundla) and chiefdom councillors (bucopho), are conducted by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC). During the various stages of the elections; registration, validation of voters roll, nomination exercise, primary and secondary elections, the commission engages members of the State security organs, mainly the police and His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) to provide security and protect lives and property.The registration exercise, started on May 10, 2023 and was extended on June 15, 2023 (when it was supposed to end) to June 18, 2023 (40 days). In terms of payment, a source close to the matter said it was agreed that they would not be paid less than E250 per day, which was an amount they received during the 2018 General Elections.


The source said it was not clear how much exactly the officers would be paid per day, but mentioned that it could be above the E250. The source also said it was worth mentioning that not all the officers worked 40 days, as some of them were rotated within the police stations. As such, he said some of them worked as little as 12 days. He said some of those who worked 40 days, came from departments like Intelligence Bureau (IB), while others were from police stations which were located in areas that had many registration centres. The source said on Tuesday, they learnt that the superiors from the various police stations in the country were in a virtual meeting with the top brass from the headquarters. Afterwards, he said the superiors at the various police stations, allegedly relayed an order to the officers that no one should claim more than 27 days for working during the registration exercise of the general elections.
In terms of calculations, this publication got hold of a communiqué which was sent to all police regional headquarters, branches and station, including Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU), and it suggested that per day, the officers would be paid E287.50, which was above the E250 per day which they got during the 2018 General Elections.mTherefore, the source said police officers who worked for 40 days were supposed to be paid E11 500, while for the 27 days, which they should claim, they would get E7 762.50. “This means that their pay will be less by E3 737.50 from what they are supposed to be paid,” the source said.


He said the officers viewed this as daylight robbery, supposedly by the administration of the police service. He said some of them contacted their sources within the EBC and enquired about the matter. “They said their sources within the commission said it was not aware of the limit on the number of days to be claimed, instead they believed officers would be paid for the work they had done,” the source said. In that regard, he said some of the aggrieved officers were threatening to boycott the upcoming stages of the elections or engage in go-slow. He said they knew how much the EBC and government needed them in this exercise, but they would do what they have to in order to get what was due to them. He added that the officers pointed out that the cost of living in the country and world at large had gone up rapidly recently, thus they would not work for nothing. He said according to their understanding, EBC paid the money in full. Therefore, he said the officers were convinced that some individuals within the organisation wanted to benefit from the pay forwarded by EBC, yet they did not work, thus they cut the number of days to be claimed.Some of the aggrieved officers said they considered boycotting the next stages of the general elections because they believed this exercise was budgeted for and there was no reason the days they worked were cut. “Loku labakwentako sebafuna kushisa lelive (What they are doing will cause trouble for the country),” said some of the affected officers.

They argued that they were saying this because they believed that the people who were behind the setting of the days knew that the country did not want the elections to be disturbed.
Again, they said when taking this decision, they knew that there were people out there who were threatening not only to boycott, but also to disrupt the elections. “The division that this decision will create among us, is something that the country does not need,” they added.On the other hand, officers from HMCS, who were contacted about their payments, said so far, nothing had been communicated to them. However, they highlighted that even in the department, the number of days they worked as officer during the registration exercise varied. They said there were those who worked almost throughout the registration exercise.


The Royal Eswatini Police Staff Association (REPOSA) Secretary General, Dumisile Khumalo, said they had been told about the matter. She said they would take it up with EBC, because even after the last general elections, they faced an almost similar challenge and they were assisted by the commission. Meanwhile, EBC Communications Officer Mbonisi Bhembe said he could not comment about the matter because it was between the employer and employee. However, he said his advice to the aggrieved officers was that they should approach their supervisors with their concerns. He urged them to be open as nothing should be hidden in this exercise. Also, he asked the supervisors to be open to the officers about the agreements they reached during their engagements as stakeholders. He said before the officers were engaged on this assignment, relevant stakeholders had discussions and there were some agreements that were made. “We need each other and there is no need to play hide and seek,” Bhembe said.