Comment: Partisanship continues to taint our police force

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The MDC-T leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, claims he confronted President Robert Mugabe asking him to reconcile the gospel of peace that he preached in Parliament last week against the violent mayhem that his supporters caused outside the House.

The PM did not tell his audience how the President responded, but it would be a safe guess the Zanu PF leader denied his charges were responsible for the disturbances.

While it would be a commendable effort that Tsvangirai took in a bid to stem violence from the head, it may have been a wasted opportunity if he did so with no evidence, because the “accused” would easily deny it and that would be the end of the story.

The evidence would be in the form of police dockets supported by pictorial proof. But then, the police say they have not arrested anyone in connection with both the Parliament mayhem and the bedlam that obtained at Machipisa Shopping Centre the following day. So there is no evidence available from the police.

On both occasions, newspapers splashed pictures of perpetrators of the violence, including one particular notorious hooligan who appeared in several papers donning a red T-shirt, apparently punching a police officer and then wielding rocks outside Parliament last Tuesday.

This man’s face is clearly discernible and only a hopeless police force could claim difficulty in finding and arresting him. During the Constitutional Outreach Programme earlier in the year we had similar occurrences where perceived MDC supporters were mauled at Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare in scenes clearly captured by newspaper cameras after which, despite pictures splashed in the Press, the police still said they were investigating until everybody stopped asking.

A classic example of police reaction to violence was seen in Glen View where one of theirs was murdered by political hooligans alleged to be MDC-T members.

The suburb was combed clean and, within hours, scores of people, including women that appeared like they could hardly throw a stone, and others in the sunset side of life, were rounded up.

The latest Glen View murder accused is a 57-year-old woman who was “netted” in the ongoing police swoop.

In a picture published in this newspaper last Wednesday, a policeman is seen apparently in pain after taking a punch from a hooligan whose identity is as clear as daylight.

That person has not been arrested, according to the police – nor were any of the scores of others that ran riot at Parliament last Tuesday.

What does this action and inaction by the police portray of their professionalism?

Our police force is struggling to shake off the damaging tag associating them with a certain political party – so, to allow a situation where they would appear clearly partisan does not help matters.

Once again, we call on Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri to live up to his claims of a professional police force.

Begin by avoiding embarrassing cases of clear partisanship. The police should refuse to be used as political tools by politicians that come and go.