Verbal attack on Ncube uncalled for

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The verbal attack on MDC leader and Industry and Commerce minister, Welshman Ncube, by Officer Commanding Police Matabeleland North province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai, made sad reading.

Veterai launched the tirade in response to an outcry over the manner in which National Healing co-minister Moses Mzila-Ndlovu and Roman Catholic priest, Father Marko Mnkandla, were dragged to court in Hwange on Tuesday in leg irons and handcuffed together to answer charges of holding a public meeting without police clearance.

The police action, according to Veterai, was prompted by information that Ncube and his delegation had reportedly hatched a plot to “spring out” their MDC colleague from Lupane Police Station on Independence Day.

That is where the statement should probably have ended, but the police chief seized the opportunity to fire a salvo at Ncube accusing him of being unpatriotic by boycotting Independence celebrations to visit a party colleague and fellow minister at the police station.

The word, patriotism, now seems to have different meanings to different people; a despot may label those who oppose him or her a sell-out or unpatriotic individual.

We wonder if Veterai has the moral authority to climb an imagined Mount Sinai and start bellowing commands to politicians as he did to Ncube when he said: “While President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were in Harare marking Independence Day, Ncube was provoking bloodshed. He must be taught on how to be Zimbabwean. He has to respect national holidays.”

We believe these comments from the provincial police commander are unfortunate and set a dangerous trend where securocrats now want to dabble in politics with reckless abandon.

It is instructive to note that police are expected to be apolitical in their day-to-day operations to enable them to dispense their duties in an impartial manner.

As a senior police officer, Veterai should know better, but then this is not the first time he has made a public declaration of his political position.

We take this opportunity to deliver wise counsel for free that as a senior police officer he should keep his political views to himself unless he intends to launch a political career: in which case he should do the honourable thing, resign and jump into the murky world of politics.

It is such diatribes from senior police officers that taint the image of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and have led to the international community and politicians in the shaky coalition government to conclude the police is partisan.

Veterai should be reminded that security sector reform is one of the dictates of the Global Political Agreement and with such repugnant remarks from the likes of him there is no doubt that it is definitely one of the outstanding issues in the implementation of the GPA.

The stance adopted by Veterai has the effect of lessening public confidence in the police force and once the general populace loses faith in the police, the country is likely to slide into lawlessness.

The rule of the jungle is something that no sane and peace-loving Zimbabwean would want to witness.
In a nutshell, Veterai cannot eat his cake and have it too.

He has to choose between being a policeman and a politician. He simply cannot be both. If he wants to continue as a policeman, then he should not dabble in politics.