Senior police officers challenged on polls

Source: Senior police officers challenged on polls | The Herald

Senior police officers challenged on polls
Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga

Freeman Razemba  Crime Reporter

Police commanders must ensure that the harmonised elections next year take place in an atmosphere of peace, and generally push hard with direct supervision of their subordinates to create a crime-free society, Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga told his top ranking officers this week. 

Addressing commissioners and assistant commissioners during the 2022 ZRP Senior Officers’ Conference being held in Harare from Wednesday, Comm Gen Matanga said: “Indications on the ground suggest that political parties have already started campaigning for the 2023 harmonised elections. Isolated cases of violence have been witnessed and recorded. 

“Democratic processes that are a hallmark of a mature democracy should not be marred by violence under our watch. It is either we remain vigilant or risk losing control and being overrun by nefarious elements in our society, masquerading as political parties. 

“As commanders, I enjoin you to ensure that your intelligence officers are always scanning the environment and reporting any suspicious behaviour.” 

The conference is being attended by officers commanding provinces and their deputies, police directors and chief staff officers. 

Comm-Gen Matanga said these conferences were key in providing them with the pedestal to embolden and fortify their collective resolve to effectively discharge their constitutional mandate. 

“The conference affords us an opportunity to retrace our footsteps so we can confidently move forward,” he said. “In contemporary management. One gets to appreciate how important the rear view mirror is when travelling. 

“During the last conference you drew up resolutions and an implementation matrix to apportion responsibility for each agreed resolution. 

“It is therefore cardinal that we make a thorough and objective assessment of your performance with regard to November 2021 Senior Officers Conference Resolutions. 

“By the same measure, the resolutions that will emerge from this conference should not only have a nexus with the previous ones, but should also be considered within the context of the ZRP strategic plan. On the implementation of the resolutions, I note with disappointment that some of you have shown lethargy and lack of interest. 

“It is disturbing that while you are the architects of the said resolutions, you become marooned from them, thus severely compromising service delivery. I wish to underscore that the organisation will never be a niche for commanders whose mediocrity is palatable fodder for criminals. We will use instruments you designed yourselves If such a trend persists. Guided by the implementation matrix, a time for reckoning will certainly be upon us not in the distant future.” 

The police core function is creating a crime free society by combating crime through intensified police operations, heightened police visibility and vigilance at all times. 

“Crime in general has been on an upward trend as depicted by 301 719 cases recorded between January and September 2022 compared to 283 973 cases received during the same period in that past year, reflecting a six percent increase,” Comm-Gen Matanga said. 

“The growth of crime beyond three percent remains unacceptable. We must therefore gird our loins and curtail this trend. As I speak, violent crimes such as armed robbery and murder are also on the rise. This is instilling a sense of fear and despair among the populace. Let me therefore exhort you to do more in the face of persistent armed robberies that threaten our nation’s peace and stability.” 

Comm-Gen Matanga said he was aware that their incapacitation and lack of adequate requisite tools of the trade stifles the police ability to fight crime. 

He said the police service continued to suffer huge loses through accidents, theft and damage. 

“Sadly, some of the resources, particularly vehicular resources, are deployed to personal use while the organisational mandate suffers. This culture should die forthwith,” he said. 

Comm-Gen Matanga said traffic management remained a problem area particularly in urban areas. 

“Road carnage, which is attributed to human error, continues to rob the nation of precious lives,” he said. “During the period under review, road traffic accidents increased by 9 percent. The Constitution of Zimbabwe reposes on us as police, the responsibility to protect lives. 

“While the Government is making significant progress in rehabilitating the national road infrastructure, we need to redouble our efforts to curb carnage as well as restraining the reckless behaviour on the roads, eliminating road unworthy vehicles amongst other factors contributing to carnage.” 

Comm-Gen Matanga said he had on various closed-door forums expressed his reservation on the lack of supervision by some commanders. 

Their elevation to positions of authority meant effective supervision should punctuate their policing diary. 

“The supervision of dockets and investigations remains sloppy,” he said. “Some of the challenges that confront the organisation are an indictment on those charged with the burden of supervision. I will not continue articulating the gravity of this matter. Let the wise heed the voice of warning.” 

Comm-Gen Matanga said discipline was the fulcrum of any police organisation. 

“However, the shameful behaviour by some members as well as corruption by rogue elements within the rank and file continues to bring disdain on the image of the organisation,” he said. “May I reiterate that the organisation will not condone indiscipline of whatever form. All errant police officers, regardless of rank have been put on notice. 

“For the avoidance of doubt, we shall not falter in emboldening our zero tolerance stance on corruption. Criminals have no space in the ZRP.” 

Comm-Gen Matanga said it was disturbing to note that young people countrywide continued to fall victim to drug and dangerous substance abuse.

“I have over our past engagements lamented over this issue as it is a potent existential threat to the future of our country. I charge you therefore to come up with a very robust resolution on this matter, our children cannot perish under our watch,” he said. 

Comm-Gen Matanga said he was fully cognisant of the multitude of challenges spanning from social to economic that confront police officers each day and assured them he will continue to lobby Government to improve the conditions of service of police officers, especially the provision of decent salaries, residential accommodation and allowances.