As largely expected, Godwin Matanga has been appointed the substantive Commissioner-General of the police and he faces a herculean task in cleaning the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s (ZRP) image.
Under his predecessor, Augustine Chihuri, the force strenuously denied corruption charges laid against it, but on perception levels, Zimbabweans were tired of ZRP’s antics and never missed an opportunity to voice their concerns.
It is no wonder why Zimbabweans, particularly drivers, were ecstatic when the military took over last November, because suddenly there were no roadblocks on the country’s roads, which many were of the view were meant to extort road users.
The police may defend themselves, but on a perception level, they were seen as corrupt and in need for reform.
ZRP have also in the past been accused of abuse of human rights and in one case, our reporter, Obey Manayiti was manhandled by a member of the force and to this day we have no idea what happened to that investigation.
There are many cases of activists accusing the police of being heavy-handed and using tactics that are outlawed and this should be a thing of the past.
It is not lost on us that Matanga was part of the last administration, but if he is to leave a lasting legacy then the first thing he ought to do is do away with the way things were done in the past and set on a new trajectory.
We will give him the benefit of the doubt and hope he can reform the police and change the way they do things.
The police force should be approachable and serve Zimbabweans in a professional manner.
Cases of corruption and unprofessional conduct should be dealt with ruthlessly, with the perpetrators weeded out from the force.
There should be no impunity, while every officer is expected to stick to the ZRP service charter.
This is no mean feat, but if Matanga can get the force back to doing the basics right, maybe he can win back those that have lost faith in the police.
We are not painting everyone with the same brush, as there are some officers that have excelled and continue to do well, but there are some bad apples that need to be thrown out of the cart and that is what Matanga should do first.
The police force is in need of an image change and that should be Matanga’s first priority.