via Police anti-graft purge questioned | SW Radio Africa by Nomalanga Moyo on Friday, October 18, 2013
Nineteen senior police officers are set to be retired amid widespread speculation that those targeted may have fallen out of favour with top cop Augustine Chihuri.
Police commissioner-general Chihuri said those being released had reached retirement age, and “had not committed any crime”.
This followed a week awash with press reports that the ‘retirements’ and transfers had more to do with allegations of corruption than the ages of the affected officers.
On Friday, the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper claimed those facing the chop had angered Chihuri, either by allegedly leaking information to the country’s ‘enemies’, or supporting calls for security sector reforms.
The Daily News says the retirements are part of a purge to rid the force of corruption, after most of the targeted retirees were fingered in scandals.
On Tuesday, the paper also revealed that superintendent Joel Tenderere had been reassigned to Nkayi after he tried to seize a property from a Harare couple. His co-accused Oliver Chibage, was reportedly forced to resign.
Some of the officers were accused of using Chihuri’s name for extortion while others had been conscripted into criminal syndicates.
The Daily News has commended Chihuri “for taking a deservedly strong stance towards the allegations of serious graft within the upper echelons of the force”.
But some observers, including the paper’s readers, have questioned the so-called corruption probe.
In a Tuesday comment one reader, Tino, wrote: “Why are you missing the point that when a top police officer is implicated in serious corrupt activities, they should be suspended pending investigation and if found guilty should be expelled?
“Since when did we start to accept that reassignment to Nkayi or wherever else as punishment, in other words we are now saying going to Nkayi is a terrible thing, so what does that mean for the people of that region?
“It just goes to show the perverse culture of corruption and impunity in the Zimbabwean police force, Chihuri’s hands are bloody as is his conscience.”
Harare-based Simon Muchemwa said there was no punishment in transferring or retiring officers accused of corruption.
Muchemwa said: “Fighting corruption should involve taking punitive measures against those found guilty. A genuine process would involve a proper investigation, and where necessary, calling in the Anti-Corruption Commission.
“But the Zimbabwean police cannot do this because the rot cascades right from Chihuri himself down to the lowest ranked officer. It is no wonder that some of the officers are alleged to have been using Chihuri’s name for extortion, they wouldn’t just do this if he has not allowed it in the past.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these officers are being punished for operating their own syndicates, outside those sanctioned by their bosses,” Muchemwa added.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police, which Chihuri presides over, was last year singled out by anti-graft body Transparency International as the most corrupt arm of government, and also in the region.
Earlier this year, a Transparency report detailed how police bosses have been involved in the looting of the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
The report further revealed how the police force, which has a 20% diamond mining stake in Chiadzwa, has also formed syndicates with senior politicians, to engage in illegal gold panning.
In the past, junior police officers have accused top officer Chihuri of looting police resources, partly through an intricate web of ghost officers and direct control of revenue collected through traffic fines.
A strong Mugabe ally, Chihuri was one of many ZANU PF officials who looted the ‘War Victims’ Fund in 1997 after he claimed to be 100% disabled. He is yet to be prosecuted.