On November 19, the National Assembly annulled the 2019 Private Security (General) Regulations on recommendations by the House Committee on Delegated Legislation. The rules were meant for proper administration of, and giving effect to, the provisions of the 2016 Private Security Regulation Act. The annulment has dealt a blow to the cause for regulation of the private security industry.
Understandably, the action was informed by submissions made by players expressing reservations, particularly on timelines to effect the rules, the inconsistency with the law, the Constitution and other statutes, dearth of training curricula, statutory fees and inadequate engagement in the formulation of the rules. However, the action seems to have missed the counter position advanced by the regulation-making authority, which included the willingness to negotiate the compliance period with stakeholders. Though none of the main players who appeared before the committee called for annulment of the regulations, few renegades in the industry are opposed to regulation.
Enactment of the 2016 Private Security Regulation Act was largely informed by concerns raised against some players who remain averse to upholding professionalism. Such must be the kind former South African President Thabo Mbeki had in mind when he observed that “the security industry cannot be handled simply as an affair of the private sector”.
A responsible state should be concerned with the operations of private security. It is regrettable that more than three years after the enactment of the enabling Act, the status quo in the industry remains. It would be far-fetched to expect them to provide independent oversight of their members. That is the void the annulled regulations were meant to fill.
Needless to say, national security stability is likely to be undermined by poorly administered and unprofessional private security providers.
It remains the responsibility of the State to formulate an elaborate and comprehensive framework for regulation with explicit and enforceable sanctions, and to provide requisite legitimacy and entrench respectability, professionalism and accountability in the industry.
As mentioned, there are actors in the industry opposed to statutory regulation, arguing that it would force many firms out of business. Some advance the ideology of free market while others argue that regulation would increase the cost of doing business.
That is self-defeating and counter-productive as they fail to acknowledge that the bottom line of the regulation is to promote operational consistency and raise standards.
Granted, some provisions of the annulled regulations were inconsistent with the enabling Act and other laws, and the set timelines for compliance impracticable to meet. The sooner action is taken to expeditiously rectify the anomalies the better. It shall be necessary to engage key players in the industry to cultivate their concurrence, but remain minded there shall be some incorrigible few still opposed to regulation.
Regulation of this industry would not only be for the sake of security, but also for social tranquillity and stability. We need such environment.
Mr Mwangi, a law enforcement and security management consultant, is the lead partner, Edge Trainers & Consultants. [email protected]