Chihuri: Commissioner for 16th time

President Robert Mugabe’s unilateral decision to reappoint discredited Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri as the police chief is not in the public interest as it violates the constitution and the law, say legal analysts.

Augustine Chihuri
Augustine Chihuri

A report by the Research and Advocacy Unit points out that the term of officer of the Commissioner of Police is stipulated as four years maximum. This may be renewed annually for no more than 12 months at a time “if the President believes this to be in the public interest”. Chihuri has held the post since 1991 – so the President must have deemed his re-appointment to be “in the public interest” on 16 occasions.

“The President’s obligation to gain the Prime Minister’s consent is not merely an undertaking in terms of the GPA. It is a constitutional requirement. The legislature also has provisions that deal with the appointment of the commissioner under the Police Act. This prohibits all officers from participating in politics,” said Rau’s director Tony Reeler

Chihuri has publicly declared his support for Zanu (PF). “I would like to make it public that I support ZANU (PF) because it is the ruling party. If any other party comes to power, I will resign and let those who support it take over,” he is on record as saying.

“This requirement of the Police Act seems to have escaped the current Commissioner-General and in itself indicates that his reappointment cannot be in the public interest. Many believe that that the Commissioner-General’s conduct has been entirely consistent with this declaration of partisanship,” said Reeler.

Under Chihuri the MDC-T has witnessed the closing up of political space by the police who are largely viewed as partisan.

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