HARARE – On Monday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the appointment of Godwin Matanga as the substantive commissioner-general of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Before his appointment, Matanga was the acting commissioner-general, a position he found himself in after Augustine Chihuri was sent on leave, pending his retirement last December.
Matanga has seen it all in the police force.
He was attested into the ZRP as a patrol officer in 1982 and rose through the ranks to become deputy commissioner-general in 1992.
Under the unpopular regime of former president Robert Mugabe, indications were that despite his long years in service, Matanga was not a favourite to succeed Chihuri, with all fingers pointing towards Innocent Matibiri as the next police chief.
Lady luck has therefore smiled on him under the new dispensation. While we congratulate Matanga on his elevation, we do not envy his position.
Matanga is inheriting a force with a tattered image despite its vaunted vision “to be a leading police service provider in the world by the year 2020”.
The ZRP needs to be overhauled in terms of its culture, work ethic, and staff to enable it to achieve its vision of “maintaining law and order, protect and secure the lives and property of the people and to institute dynamic policing practices that engender effective prevention, investigation and detection of crime.”
Matanga takes the reins when crime is on the increase and morale in the force has hit rock-bottom. Motorists are also throwing caution to the wind, with their recklessness contributing to the carnage on our roads.
To win the war against crime, Matanga does not need to be a pushover or Mr Nice Guy.
He needs to be firm but fair.
He needs to apply the law as it is and be blind to anything that might sway him from the course of justice.
Matanga has already shown signs that he could be the change agent that Zimbabweans were looking for.
Unlike in the past when the police had become a law unto themselves, we have seen the ZRP observing the law and refusing to get entangled in issues that do not concern them.
On two occasions, the ZRP has declined invitations to suppress demonstrations by workers at Air Zimbabwe and Hwange Colliery Company Limited, insisting they could only do so if there is a court order to that effect.
Matanga has also drastically reduced the number of roadblocks on the country’s roads, which were bordering on the insane.
To succeed, he however, needs every citizen to play their part.