HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsPolice force needs leadership overhaul

Police force needs leadership overhaul

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We could not agree more with Justice Rita Makarau — Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson — when she said the police force needs rebranding.

She was speaking at a police pass-out parade in Ntabazinduna yesterday.

Justice Makarau cited the major ills inherent in the police system — violence against civilians, corruption and the brutalisation of suspects.

What is worrisome is that members of the police force indulge in these nefarious activities in broad daylight. Suspects have died in police custody and postmortem results have confirmed that brutality was the cause.

In Shamva members of the police force are accused of murdering a member of the public in broad daylight. Cops have been seen smashing vehicle without rebuke. In fact, the police have become a law unto themselves and the victims are the very people they are supposed to protect. Some officers now carry knobkerries — not baton sticks — with the aim of intimidating ordinary folk.

With political backing, the cops are now arresting to investigate and not vice-versa. And they target non-Zanu PF citizens. Senseless roadblocks are a common sight on the country’s roads whose purpose is to raise money to oil the corruption machinery within the police force. It is no secret that the cops have the blessing of their superiors who have come out guns blazing in supporting the corrupt and partisan system. What we need is not just rebranding, but a complete overhaul of the police leadership.

As long as the police force is under the current unrepentant, corrupt and partisan leadership, there is no hope that we can talk of a professional police force in this country. We have a type of police leadership that enjoys holding the nation at ransom, a leadership that believes its mandate is to demonise and not to protect citizens for personal and political gain.

The cops are now making a killing by converting freedom into a commodity, deciding who should be free and who should be incarcerated.

Justice Makarau aptly observed: “Freedom for guilty accused persons and convicted criminals should not be a commodity that our officers can offer on sale, sometimes even to the lowest bidder.”

Unfortunately, this has become the norm within our police system; those with money are assured of freedom. Gone are the days when the public had confidence in the police. Cops now behave as the criminals as they indiscriminately assault anyone, demand bribes and indulge in political thuggery.

Zimbabweans will only get relief when there is a complete overhaul of the current police leadership.

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