Police incompetence exposed

HARARE - The mayhem caused by touts, popularly known as Madimbadimba, exposed the incompetency of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the failing leadership of police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri.

We do not celebrate the belated arrests of the touts because this action was not only late but prompted by the intervention of soldiers, not the desire by the police to restore law and order.

The touts and their handlers caused chaos at city commuter bus ranks demanding payments for protection and other unsolicited and illegal services from commuter bus operators.

The same touts boasted of their close links to Zanu PF and how they were above the law. On numerous occasions, commuter omnibus drivers and commuters were harassed and beaten up by these malcontents.
On numerous occasions reports were made to the police on this violence and there was a deafening silence and inaction by the police. In some instances the former police spokesperson for Harare, James Sabau, professed ignorance when asked on the violence and in some instances he asked those harassed, the hundreds if not thousands of commuters and commuter bus drivers, to come and report such cases.

Visible policing that the police charter talks of has been thrown to the bin and we are supposed to visit the police stations.

Reports indicate that the touts and their handlers collected thousands of dollars every day and some drove the latest vehicles and live in posh houses.

All this was from criminal activities committed right under the nose of Chihuri.

The safety of citizens of Zimbabwe appear not to be on the agenda of Chihuri, who has demonstrated failure to deal with a simple matter of bringing peace at commuter terminals, let alone peace when it comes to politically-motivated violence.

The police cannot argue and convince us that their resources are stretched as they have shown capacity to mount roadblocks 100 metres apart.

The roadblocks serve no purpose other than to collect cash from hapless motorists. The political views of Chihuri are known.

The problem with Chihuri is that he has turned the whole police force into a political machinery to serve the party of his choice.

In that regard simple matters of protecting civilians from harassment by thugs in the city centre and everywhere has fallen to the end of his agenda.

In other words we are seeing a collusion of the national police force with criminal elements, for failure to protect civilians from known criminal gangs is “acceptance” of such chaos and behaviours.

The same goes for Chihuri’s failure to rein in the notorious Chipangano gang based in Mbare, which the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says the police are now sub contracting the torture of political opponents.

In the same vein, we have seen the police almost spending hours guarding the Africa Unity square in anticipation of demonstrations and marches against the Government of National Unity or for other issues and causes.

Despite his political views, Chihuri must know that his performance is not judged by how many political opponents the police arrests and beat up, but by how the police protect civilians.

 There are many professional and committed police officers, who would, under good leadership perform their duties professionally. These are however, let down by a politicised leadership that only sees its role in terms of supporting Zanu PF and destabilising and harassing the MDCs and civil society.
It is for this reason that Chihuri is the worst of police commissioners Zimbabwe has ever had.

For it is under his leadership that our lives are under threat, not only from the police but also from criminal gangs who are allowed to demand money in broad daylight from citizens for no service.

Zimbabwean cities are ruled by a mafia and thugs while the police set up road blocks and chase demonstrators and MDC supporters all over the place.

If Chihuri has a conscience, he should have resigned, rather than transfer a few officers to gloss over his failure.

His party, Zanu PF, would certainly benefit from him contesting one of the vacant parliamentary seats. He needs to remove that honourable police uniform and put on a Zanu PF T-shirt and bandana and let those interested in protecting lives and property take over.  - David Mutomba

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