Police poll demands outrageous, mindless

Just what on earth do the police mean by demanding close to $200 million for covering the referendum and elections?

Report by Tangai Chipangura

The country requires $205 million to run the whole electoral process, yet the police alone want to claim almost a similar amount, ostensibly to provide security during the voting period.

Without going through the math, it is clearly preposterous and outright silly for any one government department — which already exists for the purposes of providing national security — to make such ridiculous requests.

It is perhaps the reason why Deputy Commissioner of Police Innocent Matibiri, who appeared before a Parliamentary Committee on behalf of his boss Augustine Chihuri yesterday, could not bring himself to mention this outlandish figure — $193 million. He claimed he had not brought the figures with him to Parliament. How could he have stood up to justify that monstrosity?

He, however, gave an indication of what police planned to do with some of that loot. He said the existing 40 000-strong police force was too inadequate to deal with the coming voting exercise and that the force would need to recruit an extra 10 000 for the job!

This is in a country where the health delivery system is crippled because of a dire shortage of nurses — even as the country has over 2 000 highly qualified nurses sitting at home because the country says it does not have money to pay them. Even as the recruitment demands by the police would justifiably sound nonsensical given national priorities, one would be tempted to want to defend the police’s absurd request given the political volatility that has become synonymous with Zimbabwean elections. One would wish to believe police need to make a heavy presence to maintain peace and order and ensure a free and fair election. But then the manner in which our police have presented themselves on the ground during election has left citizens of this country without faith in this national security arm, disillusioned and without hope.

Only yesterday, we reported in this paper the gruesome murder of a 12-year-old boy who was burnt to ashes in a politically motivated case of arson. Christpowers Simbarashe Maisiri, a Grade Four pupil at Ruura Primary School in Headlands, was burnt to death in a house in which he and his three brothers were sleeping on Saturday night.

Christpowers’ father, Sherpherd Maisiri, an MDC-T official who is vying for a Parliamentary seat in the coming elections, told reporters he believed Zanu PF activists in the area petrol-bombed the house.

Maisiri said his homestead had been set on fire eight times since 2000, by the same characters who had recently openly told him they would visit again. This time they told him they wanted to avenge the incarceration of their leader, Lovemore Manenji, a known Zanu PF terror commander in the area who is serving 52 years in jail for political violence — including the rape of Maisiri’s close family member. Maisiri said a brother of his was also stabbed to death by Zanu PF functionaries who had mistaken the brother for him.

Every election time, Maisiri said he fled his home with his family to live in the mountains because of the marauding Zanu PF thugs. He has lost two children due to cold after being forced out of his home.

Curiously however, the police said on Sunday night that they were not aware of the incident.

What makes the issue of security in Zimbabwe worrisome is the fact that the men that command our national security have clearly made their political affiliation known. They have declared unfettered allegiance to Zanu PF.

Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri said not so long back: “There is absolutely nothing partisan about a Zimbabwean police officer loving his country and being prepared to sacrifice and die for it. There should not be any apology for this disposition.”

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party has in the past called on Chihuri to resign for openly saying Zanu PF would not give in even if it lost elections. Chihuri had said Zanu PF would not hand over power through the pen.

“This country came through blood and the barrel of the gun and it can never be recolonised through a simple pen (the ballot), which costs as little as five cents,” Chihuri said in November 2010.

The MDC-T responded: “No police officer anywhere in the world would survive a day longer in public office if they displayed such an openly partisan, discriminatory and biased view of the society he is employed to serve.

“Chihuri must simply resign and leave Zimbabweans with a professional and uncontaminated force that guarantees the people peace and security while executing their constitutional mandate.”

The point here is that the police force and the army should be professional. Partisanship is the reason why the MDC parties have insisted on reforms of the security sector. But, needless to say, Zanu PF has resisted this with maximum vigour — and often sickening arrogance.

tchipangura@newsday.co.zw

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