Proposed amendments to the Police Act, largely to bring that statute into line with the Constitution, were gazetted yesterday.
Along with minor amendments, such as retitling the Commissioner as the Commissioner General and renaming the Police Force as the Police Service, the Bill proposes a number of more significant changes.
When the Bill passes into law the Commissioner General is to be appointed by the President, after consultation with the minister responsible for the Police Service, at present the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, for a fixed term of five years, and the appointment can be renewed only once, again for five years.
This gives the Commissioner General significant independence, since the holder of the post can only be dismissed for wrongdoing, but prevents any service after 10 years in the post.
The responsible minister will be allowed to give in writing a policy directive to the Commissioner General. The Police Service Commission will have to formulate standing orders on the advice of the Commissioner General and with the minister’s approval in respect of discipline, regulation and orderly conduct of the service.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, both bodies set up under the Constitution, will be able to give directives to the Commissioner General, which must be complied with.
On disciplinary matters, the Police Service Commission will assume certain powers of dismissal, or will have to approve of the Commissioner General’s wish to dismiss, and will hear appeals from Police Service members who have faced disciplinary proceedings.
The right of some members of the service to opt for a hearing before a magistrate rather than a bench of officers will be abolished.