THE Zimbabwe Republic Police force is set to recruit 10 000 more officers to maintain law and order ahead of next month’s referendum and subsequent elections, a senior police officer announced yesterday.
The development literally flies in the face of the health sector which recently received the “green light” to recruit only 1 000 nurses, leaving an equal number unemployed. Currently the police has a staff complement of 40 000 officers.
Police deputy commissioner-general (operations), Innocent Matibiri, disclosed the looming massive recruitment when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Security, to speak on police preparedness during the forthcoming referendum and election.
He said that intelligence officers had been unleashed on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and political parties to watch over their activities before, during and after elections.
“We have a strength of about 40 000 police officers and we are looking at recruiting 10 000 more constabularies to make them 50 000 in order to be able to keep law and order during elections and the referendum,” Matibiri said.
“There is now an influx of NGOs and we have deployed intelligence personnel on the ground to monitor their day-to-day activities and those of political parties, because what we see is they are going outside their mandate and we are working with relevant offices to ensure they are deregistered.”
He said there will be 10 000 polling stations during the election period and five police officers would be attached to each police station.
Matibiri, however, could not give details of the amount of money police needed during elections, but said the figure had since been forwarded to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
MPs nevertheless believe the force requires $193 million.
The ZRP said NGOs had been purporting to distribute aid when they were campaigning for certain political parties.
Matibiri added: “99% of NGOs are Western-sponsored and it is not only radios we have confiscated.
“There are many things we have confiscated with Zimra, and why have they suddenly decided to be generous to go into rural areas to distribute radios? There is Studio Seven and it is unlawful and you expect the security forces to fold their arms.”
He said while NGOs were under the mandate of the Labour and Social Welfare ministry, police will take action on them as long as they broke the law.
The police also played down incidencies of political violence saying they were isolated and those reported had only been fuelled by the media.
“I have no evidence that police have been acting in a partisan manner. We also have no evidence that chiefs act in a partisan manner.
“Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri has set up a steering committee headed by Senior Assistant Commissioner for elections, Lee Muchemwa, and Senior Assistant Commissioner (Chief Staff officer Operations) Faustino Mazango to monitor events during elections,” he said.
He dismissed as untrue allegations that the case of Headlands MDC-T
parliamentary aspirant Shepherd Maisiri’s son Christpowers, who was burnt beyond recognition over the weekend, was politically motivated.
“Police work on evidence. In this particular case (Headlands) police have established it was not a case of arson . . .
“The fact that the media has said something might not necessitate that we act. As police we act on evidence,” Matibiri added.