HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsWe need a well-functioning, accountable police force

We need a well-functioning, accountable police force

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The drama playing out in Mbare where work at a construction site is constantly being disrupted by activists from the thuggish Chipangano is emblematic of Zimbabwes defective investment climate.

Chipangano has on a number of occasions descended on the worksite to assault workers in a bid to force them from constructing a new service station and food court.

The group wants work to be abandoned on the site because it alleges the developer of the project Alex Mashamhanda is an MDC activist.

The thugs have declared that Mbare is Zanu PF territory and, therefore, only its party members deserve to run businesses in the neighbourhood.

What makes the issue more egregious is that the setting of this unfortunate event is right next to Matapi Police Station. Activists from Chipangano are bold enough to go and commit a crime on the doorstep of the custodians of law and order.

Reports say that construction workers who had been assaulted sought refuge at the police station where statements were recorded before the injured were taken to hospital.

We have not heard of arrests of Chipangano activists, but a representative of the developer has been arrested and is being charged with threatening his assailants with death!

How ridiculous can we get as a nation? There is no greater advertisement of blatant assault on the rule of law than this Mbare story. It is a red flag to would-be investors that property rights are not guaranteed for opponents of Zanu PF.

It is a banal fact that investment thrives in an environment of trust and confidence. The treatment of local investors is a key indicator.

Zimbabwean authorities have over the years developed a penchant to fight and destabilise business. The conduct of Chipangano is driven largely by poisonous thinking by politicians who do not hesitate to drive fellow blacks off the land, grab property and equipment and reap crops they did not grow.

Known members of Chipangano have in the past evicted hostel dwellers.

They have grabbed market stalls and are known to collect levies from transport operators and informal traders. These acts are illegal and should be treated as thus by the police. Are the activities of this militant group legal?

Do police have the power to act against this lot? Police should come out clear on how they view Chipangano.

There is serious structural failure on the part of political leadership in this country to address the fundamental issues of property rights and the rule of law.

Our leaders have spoken glowingly of the one-stop shop for investors seeking to do business in the market. Our investment policies, the politicians say, are up to world standard. There is, however, a stunning disconnect between policy and reality on the ground.

Zimbabwes ranking as an investment destination has remained poor because the country has generally performed very badly on critical issues. It is worth noting that the one-stop investment office and investment policy documents cannot deal with Chipangano and other purveyors of disorder. The assault on the rule of law must be addressed.

Public confidence in the police force and judicial system has been compromised by corruption among judicial officers and general laziness of certain judges and magistrates. There is poor observance of the law by select groups with strong political ties. The tradition of law and order is fast eroding.

There is prevalence of petty crime and organised crime which have festered under the watch of corrupt policemen who actively seek bribes from lawbreakers.

It gets worse when law enforcers stand accused of siding with criminals or when certain political groups commit crimes with impunity and then appear to be immune from arrest.

We need a well-functioning and accountable police force which protects citizens and their property from crime and violence. The sad drama in Mbare should be brought to an end. It looks quite easy because it is close to a police station.

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