Always be mindful that during election time, some misguided and politically immature people within our society may want to orchestrate violence in a desperate bid to bully people.
Recent calls by the Zimbabwe Republic Police to take a zero tolerance on political violence approach in the upcoming election processes are welcome and can not be ignored by any peace-loving Zimbabwean as we brace for yet another defining moment for the country we love most. ZRP says it will not tolerate political violence in national elections scheduled for this year and has warned perpetrators that they will face the full wrath of the law regardless of their political affiliation.
REPORT BY CLETO MANJOVA
In a space of less than three months, five high-ranking ZRP officials took turns to grab every opportunity to call for a violence-free election and specify action for would be perpetrators.
Officially opening the ZRP Support Unit senior officers’ course at Shamva battle camp in Mashonaland Central province on 10 January 2013, police Deputy Commissioner-General Innocent Matibiri said any disturbances to discredit the polls would not be tolerated. Mr Innocent Matibiri is the second in command to Mr.
Augustine Chihuri who is the police force supremo.
Chihuri warned Zimbabweans while addressing two groups of officers; some leaving and others coming back from UN peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone, East Timor and Liberia. In his address he said: “Always be mindful that during election time, some misguided and politically immature people within our society may want to orchestrate violence in a desperate bid to bully people,” these words mean a lot with respect to dealing with the culture of impunity in our country and if they are fully followed and action is taken, it has some deterrence to those who plan to organise or take charge of violence.
From the manner in which senior officers in the ZRP have taken turns to speak on how they are going to deal with perpetrators of violence, one can think that the current police force, which should be a police service, was not around when politically motivated violence started to be unleashed on a people seeking to exercise their democratic rights of choosing leaders since the dawn of the new millennium.
On the other hand, one can take these utterances as a confirmation by the police that indeed in the past and particularly in 2008, used to treat perpetrators of violence in a manner best described by them, but obviously far from the zero tolerance they are proclaiming now.
This then raises a lot of questions on the sincerity of the police on how they intend to deal with perpetrators of violence who are still swaggering and roaming the streets scot-free.
It can therefore follow that the police force waited for the coalition government to be in place for them to realise that it is important not to tolerate any form of political violence.
But can the ZRP prove that they can go beyond rhetoric and deal diligently with perpetrators?
Following the continuous call by the head of state President Robert Mugabe for Zimbabweans and his Zanu PF supporters in particular to shun political violence in the coming elections, the police, through high-ranking officials in the force, have joined in the all important call to end political intolerance.
Can this be taken to mean that the ZRP has realised that they have been doing a disservice to the people of Zimbabwe by creating sacred cows whenever the dirty game turned violent, or they are just following the bandwagon on calling for peaceful, violence free election?
Elections are coming and the police have a duty, not to be presiding officers, but to protect the electorate and implement the zero tolerance to political violence stance they are preaching and for them to fully achieve that.
Basing on the past allegations of politically motivated violence cases that were reported and still to be investigated ,the capacity of the current ZRP to implement what they are talking about remains a pipeline dream unless we are to have a “miracle police force” if there is anything of that nature.
Cleto Manjova is a programmes manager with The Heal Zimbabwe Trust. He writes in his own capacity.
The manner in which senior officers in the ZRP have taken turns to speak on how they are going to deal with perpetrators of violence, one can think that the current police force, which should be a police service, was not around when politically motivated violence started to be unleashed on a people