Nothing more succinctly illustrates the way members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police have been compromised than a picture of hundreds of constables waving their fists at the Harare Agricultural Show on Friday.
Waving flags, the uniformed young men and women stood shoulder to shoulder with members of the Zanu PF women’s league at a function officiated by President Robert Mugabe.
Although a police spokesperson said yesterday there was nothing untoward about that, the officers’ actions are symptomatic of what has gone wrong with Zimbabwe’s police. The force, which should be non-partisan, is associated with Zanu PF, making it difficult for a line to be drawn separating their work as officers on one hand and as party activists on the other.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri is a known Zanu PF supporter. During the run up to the hotly disputed July 31 elections, Chihuri urged members of ZRP to support Zanu PF. Assistant Commissioner Oliver Mandipaka led a campaign for Mugabe in Buhera where he is now the member of parliament-elect.
This brazen involvement in politics by officers is unprofessional and cannot be allowed to continue, especially after Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution that outlaws such conduct.
Section 208 of the charter clearly spells out that the police should not have a political bias, and must uphold highest professional standards. It says the force should also be guided by a code that binds those in uniform to serve the interests of the generality of Zimbabweans, and not to be at the beck and call of any political party.
Police conduct should be in sync with the provisions of the constitution. Zimbabweans overwhelmingly endorsed the charter and they want to see the police force shunning partisan policing.
The force should turn a new leaf by beginning to protect the people’s rights, abandoning torture and other inhuman treatment of prisoners and fully respecting the rule of law.
The new parliament, once it gets to work, should kick-start this process by amending the Police Act in order to align it with the new constitution.