Police bosses in tight spot

Source: Police bosses in tight spot – DailyNews Live

Andrew Kunambura      4 May 2018

HARARE – The police’s conduct during the ruling party’s primary elections
has once again lifted the lid on the inappropriate relationship that
exists between Zanu PF and the law enforcement agency, heightening calls
for the reformation of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) beyond cosmetic
changes introduced in the past five months, the Daily News can report.

To his credit, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has promised to deliver
free and fair polls around July/August this year and has been ringing
changes in the ZRP since assuming the reins of power last November, has
reacted angrily to the brazen conflation between the police and some
politicians in his governing party, witnessed during the just-ended Zanu
PF primary elections.

After some tongue-lashing from Mnangagwa, the Daily News can report that
police bosses panicked, and yesterday they commenced a workshop to train
their personnel on how the force should conduct itself before, during and
after the general elections to avoid falling afoul of the law and
discrediting the ballot.

In the past, Zanu PF rivals have complained bitterly about the partisan
role of the police and other State security agents in the ruling party’s
electoral campaigns and general management of the elections.

This week, Zanu PF officials turned on each other after police officers
were implicated in electoral malpractices alleged during the party’s
primaries, in violation of their constitutional mandate.

While the police are meant to be apolitical, reports indicate that members
of the ZRP, Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the Air Force of
Zimbabwe were deployed by their bosses to manage the distribution of
ballot boxes and papers during Zanu PF primaries.

In some cases, police officers assumed the role of polling officers,
checking cell registers and overseeing the voting process.

Civic rights group and Zanu PF opponents have rightly expressed their
disgust at the abuse of state resources on ruling party business and
expressed fears that the continued conflation between State actors and
their rivals may not produce a free and fair electoral outcome.

On Wednesday, Mnangagwa issued a statement acknowledging the use of State
security agents and police officers in Zanu PF’s internal polls and
strongly condemned the practice.

“Any such instances, which might have occurred in the just-ended party
primary elections would amount to a breach of Zanu PF policy and certainly
a flagrant violation of the laws of the land which must be roundly
condemned and stopped forthwith,” he said.

“Let it be known that conflation of party and State institutions as might
have happened in the past will not be allowed under the new dispensation
where the electoral playing field must be seen to be fair and even,”
Mnangagwa added.

Yesterday, while addressing a train the trainer workshop convened by the
ZRP in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) in the
wake of the fallout in Zanu PF, the chairperson of the electoral
management body, Priscilla Chigumba, said their respective institutions
were significant in shaping perceptions of fairness and ultimately the
credibility of the polls.

“There are reports from previous elections where the relationship between
the electoral and police officers could be best described as acrimonious
as the former felt as if the latter was there to oversee the running of
the election. There are also reports of police officers who were openly
demanding electoral statistics from polling officers then radio them in
the full glare of the public and observers,” said Chigumba.

“We do not know where these statistics were being channelled to but we
know they were not being sent through the Zec structure. Such behaviour
has thus created an impression that the Zec and ZRP are devious players in
the electoral field. It is not surprising that one of the electoral
reforms that has been brought before Parliament intends to redefine the
role of police officers at the polling stations. We cannot afford to have
this happen during the 2018 harmonised elections because it sends the
wrong signal to the observers as it undermines the independence of Zec”.

The workshop, according to Chigumba, marked the beginning of a journey
between Zec and the ZRP, in creating an environment for delivering a
credible election.

Addressing the same workshop, ZRP commissioner-general Godwin Matanga said
the force was acutely aware of its obligations and its contribution to the
holding of free, fair and credible elections.

“To this end, the impartial enforcement of all the laws is fundamental to
contributing to such an envisaged environment. Dealing decisively with all
forms of violence will impact positively on the outcome of the impending
elections,” he said.

Yesterday, the circus in Zanu PF spawning from the heavily contested
primaries continued, with angry party supporters besieging the ruling
party national headquarters in Harare yesterday.

They made it clear that they will vote for the opposition if the
contentious primary elections, which were marred by several irregularities
were not reversed.

The supporters, some coming from as far as Mt Darwin, waved placards –
insisting their preferred candidates should be given a second bite of the
cherry lest they will vote against Zanu PF.

The ruckus has seen the Zanu PF commissariat department burning the
midnight oil to contain the fallout.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 1
  • comment-avatar
    Mixed Race 4 years ago

    It was a terrible mistake for the new president to inherit the unchanged police force,hoping that the removal of the Commissioner would make these well brainwashed officers would self transform their our twisted mindsets overnight.He should have dismissed all assistant commissioners plus their deputes and promote the ones fourth in ranks to the Police Commissioner to clean up the embedded corrupt managers.
    The zanu-pf primaries have just exposed their hidden political agenda they still have the very corrupt agendas in their daily duties in enforcing the councils’ by-laws eg Noise related ones.These officers-in-charge of police station collude with the owners of these bottle stores and nightclubs to break the existing by-laws.One of them is Queens Park West in Bulawayo told me that these nightclubs and bottle stores are licensed to make the noise as they want.I told him that he is lying and he is corrupt because these by-laws have not been amended to authorize the free for all attitudes in urban areas.Our country is heading for disaster with such a police force in control God bless our poor country and give our new president to rain on these corrupt officers.They can try to threaten us but we shall not bend down to their notorious behaviour without a fight.