HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsComment: Parly mayhem: what are police waiting for?

Comment: Parly mayhem: what are police waiting for?

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Zimbabweans were shocked by the unbelievable disdain with which political hooligans treated the country’s House of Parliament on Saturday.

Scores that have managed to respond to the outrageous behaviour have called for the immediate arrest of the ruffians.

Political analysts too expressed disbelief such a thing could happen at Parliament and called for the police to act.

The police on their part say they did not deploy many police details to what they assumed would be a civilised meeting of adult Zimbabweans debating a Bill because they found no reason to suspect anything of the nature of what later obtained would happen.

There was only a handful of police details to deal with hundreds of agitated Zanu PF activists, most of whom have been seen during previous political skirmishes.

A good number of the people that invaded Parliament Building at the weekend are known Zanu PF activists who were at the forefront disrupting proceedings during the Copac outreach meetings at places like Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare.

The police explanation that they were taken by surprise, so to say, would seem to suggest that had they been prepared for the bedlam, they would have arrested the hoodlums that defiled our Parliament and taken them to court where they would have been charged with contempt of Parliament.

But, given the excellent investigation record that our police force is credited with, the perpetrators of this shameful act should have long been arrested, given the evidence provided to the police through pictures published in newspapers since the day the “criminals” invaded the august House.

The pictures that have been published are so clear the individuals involved in the beating-up of legislators and journalists cannot be mistaken.

If nothing is done, it would not be because the police do not know who to take in for questioning, but simply because they won’t do it.

But, if the police do nothing, the message would be that Zimbabweans should accept that a group of rowdy political malcontents can march up to Parliament, push aside the security there to gain entry, and then rough up Honourable Members of Parliament, dragging them out of committee rooms by their neckties, punching and kicking them.

Passersby, including a white man who happened to be a visiting pastor from South Africa, were mobbed and ordered to chant Zanu PF slogans as journalists who were unlucky to be seen either taking notes or photos were beaten up in full view of the few anti-riot police helplessly standing nearby.

The police have a duty to restore the dignity of the House of Assembly by arresting and charging Saturday’s rabble rousers with contempt of Parliament.

They have a duty to restore Zimbabweans’ confidence in the country’s police force because otherwise, citizens would live with the fear that, like political analyst Charles Mangongera said, “if Parliament is not respected and MPs are beaten up, my grandmother in Chivhu is also not safe”.

The perpetrators have their faces splashed on newspaper pages and the laws to prosecute them are there in the existing constitution. What are the police waiting for?

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