It makes one wonder how many such cops does Zimbabwe still have? The Latin motto, “Pro Lege, Pro Patria, Pro Populo” on the Zimbabwe Republic Police badge means “For the Law, For the Nation, and For the People”.
Yet under the command of Augustine Chihuri since 2000, the ZRP has drastically shifted from being the pride of the nation to a bunch of hooligans working only for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF).
In the current context, one would think that “the Law” in the emblem only refers to the repressive legislation coined to keep Zanu (PF) in power, “the Nation” can only be one that will be permanently ruled by Mugabe and “the People” can only be Zanu (PF) supporters.
Chihuri’s public declaration that he supports the octogenarian leader’s party, terror campaigns by the Law and Order section, widespread corruption and trumped-up charges against political opponents, journalists, student leaders, civil rights groups and worker movements are a clear sign the ZRP has abandoned its constitutional role to become an armed political wing.
So, what kind of “outstanding” police officers was Muderedzwa referring to? Surely, not the ones who trip over wanted criminals like Joseph Mwale on their way to arresting a goat thief and quickly submit their names to be considered for the Cop of the Month award.
Outstanding cops cannot be those who abduct and torture villagers for exercising their right to vote; those who beat up women for distributing flowers on Valentines’ Day or those who abduct a female human rights defender and hold her hostage for days.
Outstanding cops are those like former Constable Tafadzwa Gambiza who in 2005 was brave enough to arrest Emmerson Mngangagwa and his election agent, July Moyo, for contravening section 146 of the Electoral Act and in 2008 refused to be forced to vote for Mugabe in the June Presidential re-run. If even half the men working in the ZRP could be that brave, Chihuri and his war veteran cronies would not be having a free rein today.
It seems foolish of Muderedzwa to talk of rewarding “outstanding” police officers when Amnesty International and other non-governmental organisations are criticizing the ZRP for its political bias and Transparency International has condemned it for massive corruption.
“Some policemen are opportunists, who know that their leaders are blatantly partisan towards Zanu (PF). So, to please their masters in the hope of favours, patronage and promotion, they rush to abuse the law and persecute MDC and human rights defenders,” says human rights lawyer, Dewa Mavhinga, the regional coordinator for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
“One police officer who once harassed me claimed he would be promoted for that.”
Blessing Vava of the National Constitution Assembly says ignorance of the law cannot be the reason behind this lack of professionalism.
“They know how the law operates because a part of their training curriculum is about law and the constitution, which they must enforce. They have stopped doing things by the book to dabble in politics,” says Vava. Political commentator, Pedzisayi Ruhanya, suggests that the ZRP has bowed to politicians’ demands at the expense of citizens.
“The problem is not lack of appreciation of the law by the police, but disrespect of the law by the security apparatus and their political superiors in Zanu (PF).
It’s about a culture of impunity and lawlessness that is the DNA of Zanu (PF) rule. Using the law to persecute people is part of the Zanu (PF) grand political agenda,” says Ruhanya.
“The politicians are largely the problem, the police know what is right like any other citizen but their job is made difficult by the political cabal in Zanu (PF).”
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