REPORTS that officers of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) are not happy with their salaries and working conditions should be treated with utmost urgency and sensitivity as this could pose a threat to our national security.
Any industrial action by the police, whether legal or illegal, would have devastating consequences for the rule of law and the maintenance of law and order.
It is precisely for this reason that we think the government must act with speed to deal with the long-standing grievances of our police who provide a key service to the nation.
We all know that an unhappy police could pose a serious threat to our national security.
It is important therefore that we keep our police happy by rewarding their hard work.
The police’s grievances largely centre on the issue of poor salaries and working conditions.
It would be tempting to dismiss the police officers’ grievances as the rumblings of an unpatriotic lot that remains ungrateful of what the government is doing for them.
But that would be a mistake.
We have thousands of loyal men and women of integrity within the LMPS who have served their country over the years with distinction.
We cannot understand why such men and women should be asked to live on virtual starvation wages after such long, distinguished service.
It is clear that the government must address these discrepancies and not hide behind the façade that “it is doing something” about their grievances.
Seven years is too long.
The lowest paid police officer is said to be earning a gross salary of M3 600 a month.
Those who have served in the police force for a decade are not earning much either.
No wonder morale is said to have hit rock bottom.
A delegation that met the home affairs principal secretary and the acting police commissioner last week asked the government to review salaries as well as the meagre risk allowances for police officers.
They want the government to review their poor working conditions and the transfer policy that often rips families apart.
They also want the government to deal with the issue of dilapidated accommodation facilities in rural posts.
They want the government to provide basic equipment that allows them to carry out their duties with a modicum of respectability.
On the face of it these grievances appear quite justified.
It is only a government that is hopelessly out of touch with the needs of its own people that will fail to respond to this genuine cry for attention.
The government must look into the salaries of police officers and improve their conditions of service because they offer a key service to the community.
The police, like other key security agents, must be rewarded with a living wage to deter them from engaging in nefarious acts.
Of course no amount of money will ever be enough.
Indeed poor pay should be no justification for engaging in corrupt activities.
But the bottom line is that the government must reward police officers with decent wages so that they are not too poor to be desperately scrounging for petty bribes during the middle of the month.