To Our Beloved Police Commissioner General, Dr Augustine Chihuri
By Hilary Mare
Images purporting to portray South African Police members as being active participants in looting and other related forms of criminality during the recent violent riots in Tshwane have been revolted by Brigadier Mashadi Selepe in South Africa, but those same images have spiked our thoughts with a reality that is unfolding in our own backyard- Zimbabwe!
We feel the dithering and lack of composure has to be put in the shade and we need to pour our hearts out to you as the only man who can arguably put us out of the misery we have faced from your subordinates particularly on national roads countrywide.
Your systematic poise and incision in picking out both credible and despicable practices in the Police Force may have been the sole reason why we had 33 traffic officers transferred from their stations to other bases after being found guilty of soliciting bribes in 2014 and had least 300 traffic police officers sacked for corruption in the same year among a host of other interventions that have in the past taken place to rid the public from the unrepentant officers hand.
Commissioner! Zimbabwe’s Achilles heel since our economic down turn has been cops preying on the pockets of civilians not to withstand the numerous road blocks that characterise all roads- some only 100m apart!
For this, the general perception among many Zimbabweans of the ZRP now is one of mistrust and apprehension. Your Force has had its image heavily dented after many unbecoming instances where the law enforcer has found itself in unintended ridicule over its conduct of affairs it is constitutionally mandated to do.
You may recall that just this past Monday in Uganda during the trial of 32 suspects behind last year’s killings of Muslim clerics, the suspects’ lawyers raised a preliminary issue in court accusing the police boss Kale Kayihura of bribing and intimating their clients.
That Gen Kayihura masterminded a plan to convince some suspects to pin their colleagues. Such acts, if proved, do not allay fears of Ugandans who think police is not up to its task – We are no different!
One of the key roles of police is to prevent and detect crime in the society. But now it seems police is abetting crime it is supposed to curtail. A litany of incidents have presented themselves where policemen have been involved or indicted for crimes that they are mandated to stop.
Without coming clean and showing sincere regret over their past mistakes, the police force will never re-establish itself as an upright law enforcer in the eyes of the citizens. They will forever be looked down as `cari makan’ cops when they are seen performing their duties.
Sadly, as we have repeatedly seen over the years, the exploitation of resources and government corruption are inextricably linked, and the absence of accountability allows corruption to flourish. It is under this this assertion that high profile cases in which the matrix of accountability is key have collapsed under the watch of the police and our confidence has dwindled.
We should always heed the fact that just as citizens rely on governments, they trust the Police to manage public crime and provide essential services in today’s complex societies.
This means providing quality services, of ensuring honest and prudent management of issue that affect citizens than strain their lives and squeeze them out of their hard earned monies through forced bribes. It means providing these services in a safe way, in a fair, honest and professional manner. And, at the end of the day, it means demonstrating full accountability to the people.
The numerous and unnecessary roadblocks have had our very own police force tiptoeing at edge of the abyss. The image of the force has gone to the dogs and as citizen we look upon you to rescue the situation that has made us alien to our native country.
Please act and act now Commissioner
Hilary Mare is a freelance journalist in the Pretoria metro area.