POLICE Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri collapsed in front of President Robert Mugabe causing panic among several Cabinet ministers, aides and thousands of people present at a police graduation parade at Morris Deport in Harare yesterday.
Chihuri, a close Mugabe ally, collapsed immediately after Mugabe’s 15-minute speech, forcing aides and other senior police officials standing at the VIP tent into action before the police chief was stretchered off to a nearby waiting room for medical attention.
Chihuri was resuscitated by medical practitioner and Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora and he had to apologise to Mugabe for the “mishap” soon after his return to the VIP tent.
Immediately after his collapse, Chihuri’s deputy Godwin Matanga took over his seat next to Mugabe, while his boss was receiving first aid as several people jostled to try and catch a glimpse of what was taking place.
The Police Commissioner-General only re-appeared more than 30 minutes later and accompanied Mugabe for a group photo with the graduands.
The police boss, who arrived with his wife, had accompanied Mugabe while inspecting the parade for more than 30 minutes and stood while the officers were marching and showcasing different skills.
Chihuri was appointed police commissioner in an acting capacity in 1991 and became substantive Commissioner in 1993.
The Police Commissioner-General has been rewarded with a contract renewal over 13 times since 1997 becoming the longest police chief with 23 years to his credit at the helm of the force.
In his speech, Mugabe warned those threatening to stage demonstrations that the “full wrath of the law” would catch up with them.
Mugabe, making his second public appearance after his recent trip to Singapore for medical attention, appeared fit and calm, telling the police graduates that they should ensure people live in harmony and thwart all forms of violence.
“We want to see our people living in harmony, regardless of their varied social or political inclinations. Of course, we may hold varying views on a number of issues, be they social or political,” the President said. “We may even differ in opinion, but that should never make us resort to the use of violence to settle our differences.”
In apparent reference to threats by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his opposition party to stage demonstrations in protest against allegedZanu PF misrule, Mugabe said the police would deal with them if they dared incite or engage in protests.
“I, therefore, warn all those who perpetrate violence, incite or engage in illegal protests that they should be prepared to face the full wrath of the law,” he said.
Tsvangirai, on several occasions, told his supporters not to be afraid, but to take to the streets against the failure by the Zanu PF government to provide solutions to the country’s deepening economic crisis.
Mugabe warned senior government officials, parastatal bosses and local authority chiefs against engaging in corruption.
“It is sad to note that corruption continues to rear its ugly head among service institutions in the country, thereby militating against our country’s economic and social development,” he said.
“Our people are denied timely quality services in government ministries, parastatals, State enterprises and local authorities where corruption and other underhand dealings have become endemic.”
To this end, Mugabe said Cabinet ministers have been assigned to take full responsibility of parastatals and State enterprises which fall under their portfolios to ensure that those fingered in corrupt activities were brought to book.
He said the police had an “onerous task of plucking out undesirable elements including, if not beginning with those within their rank and file, that are inclined to criminal propensities”.
Several Zanu PF ministers, among them Senior minister of State in the President’s office Simon Khaya Moyo and Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, attended the pass out-parade of 651 recruits who underwent a six-month training session.