Top cop breaches resign-to-run policy

HARARE - A serving senior police spokesperson is campaigning to run for Member of Parliament for Buhera South on President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF ticket, in apparent breach of the law enforcement agency’s resign-to-run rule.

Deputy national police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka, who is one of the longest serving officers on the Zimbabwe Republic Police force, is cranking up a campaign in Buhera South, wooing villagers with racy messages showing that he is streetwise.

One of the campaign slogans for Mandipaka, who has attained the rank of chief superintendent, says “chakachaya” or (its game on).

Under police injunctions, he faces dismissal because staying in office while actively campaigning is a breach of the law on integrity, and their political neutrality as public officials would be called into question.

Mandipaka has been distributing fliers in Buhera, in which he is pictured in Zanu PF regalia.

He confirmed to the Daily News that he has remained in the police force even though the law requires police officers aspiring to political leadership to choose between the civil service and politics.

Asked if he was still serving in the police force given his campaign on a Zanu PF ticket, Mandipaka retorted: “Yes, what deters me from running.”

Asked further if he was going to quit given that his actions were apparently in breach of the Police Act, he said:  “There is life after the police force. Munhu haafire muchipurisa. (I can leave the force, it’s not like I will die a cop.)”

Zimbabwe’s police force, established and governed by the Constitution of Zimbabwe and Police Act, bans police officers from actively participating in politics.

All officers are enjoined to maintain a clear division between their duties as police officers and political affiliations and sympathies.

A member is regarded as in breach of this injunction “if he or she joins or associates himself or herself with a political organisation; canvasses any person in support of, or otherwise actively assists, a political organisation; displays or wears political regalia; attends a political meeting or assembly when wearing the uniform of the Police Force or any part of such uniform likely to identify him or her as a regular force member unless as part of his or her duties; asks questions from the floor at a political meeting; publishes views of a political character or causes them to be published in any manner or media; or does any other act whereby the public or any member thereof might reasonably be induced to identify him or her with a political organisation.”

This requirement of the Police Act seems to have escaped Mandipaka when he distributed the fliers, showing him striking a pose, with one hand thrust into his pocket.

“Yaaa! Chakachaya. Ndiwo machinda ekuisa kuParamende aya (Its game on, this is the kind of gentleman to elect to Parliament),” the flier says.

Mandipaka said his roots and background in law enforcement will serve him well if elected.

The otherwise affable cop is running what amounts to a populist campaign, backed by men and women who work hard and expect their leaders to work just as hard, and above all else, be honest and have personal integrity. - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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