YESTERDAY, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) admitted that they have, in the past, been used as a paramilitary force for the Zanu PF elite.
But the law enforcement agents begged Zimbabweans to give them a clean slate to reform and serve citizens of this great nation selflessly and professionally from now on.
What is telling about the police’s confession during a Press conference in Harare that they had conducted themselves unprofessionally in executing their duties under former President Robert Mugabe’s government was a frank, but welcome act of compunction.
It is our hope that the police conduct during that dark era in our history, in which anti-police public sentiment had grown to unprecedented levels, will remain in the past and never again recur.
There is no doubt that the public had long lost trust in the police, with motorists viewing them as “bribe collectors” on the roads rather than a security arm meant to protect the citizens.
It is clear that rebuilding public confidence will not be an overnight miracle, but the police’s decision to come clean and admit their past wrongs is the first step in the right direction.
Elections, in particular, had become an area of serious contention, with accusations that the police merely protected ruling Zanu PF elements and ignored the harm inflicted on opposition supporters during electoral violence.
Zimbabweans would hope that given the police have now committed themselves to dispensing their duties professionally during the forthcoming elections without fear or favour, this would cascade to all players across the country.
The elections will be a litmus test that will demonstrate whether or not the police are, indeed, sincere in their promise to be a professional and credible organisation once again.
The citizens will be watching to see if, indeed, all reported cases will be investigated thoroughly regardless of the party to which the perpetrators and victims belong.
Policing is one of the hotspots that will be used to measure President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s success, and that instils hope that the police have turned a new leaf and will do all it takes to become a professional outfit once again.
It would be a shame if the police relapse into their old mode after setting up a new unit specifically to deal with cases of political violence.
Over the years, many people have refrained from participating in elections and voting for fear of harassment by ruling party supporters, who were, as it were, immune to arrest and prosecution.
We believe professionalism within the police force shows the country’s commitment to international standards of policing. The police must stop partisanship, it’s smelly!