OPPOSITION political parties have called for a major shake-up in the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), starting with Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, whom they accused of allegedly presiding over a corrupt force that protected criminals and arrested victims.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu yesterday called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who assumed office on Friday, to crack the whip on Chihuri and have him arrested for turning the police into a rag tag militia and corruption-infested force for nearly 23 years.
“Chihuri must be fired and arrested for corruption, failing to cause the arrest of suspected criminals even when his juniors had prepared dockets. Instead, he would cause the arrest of complainants and abuse State resources protecting the real criminals,” he said.
This came amid reports that Mnangagwa was planning to urgently realign the ZRP and the entire State security sector, to ensure adherence to the rule of law.
Sources close to Mnangagwa said the heckling that Chihuri endured at the President’s inauguration ceremony on Friday was an indication that the police boss’ days in office were numbered.
“It was incisive the boos at the stadium, the absence of police at the parade or their exclusion from providing security told you everything that you need to know, the police top brass is not trusted and is most likely to be forced out, arrests might also be effected, but the President will act,” a very close source said.
The calls come following the arrest of Finance minister Ignatius Chombo, Zanu PF youth league secretary Kudzanai Chipanga and youth league political commissar Innocent Hamandishe for crimes committed more than two years ago.
Hamandishe is accused of six counts of kidnapping and assault which occurred in 2015, which were reported to the police, but arrests were not effected because, according to Chihuri, the accused was on the run.
In an affidavit deposed in the case of Hamandishe, by Detective Inspector Lovemore Chifamba, opposing bail, the police stated, among other reasons, that the accused had been on the run since December 2015 and that they had overwhelming evidence.
“The accused has been on the run since December 2015 and if granted bail is likely to abscond . . . the accused is of ill temper who hides behind his party position and is likely to continue committing crimes of a similar nature if granted bail,” the police submitted.
But Hamandishe’s lawyer Emmanuel Samundombe dismissed the police claim that his client was a fugitive.
“That is a sick joke. How could he have been on the run when he addressed rallies and was appearing at State functions, where police were providing security. There is no evidence that they were even looking for him,” he said.
Chombo is accused of abuse of office during his tenure as Local Government minister, where he is alleged to have defrauded Harare City Council and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, in cases dating back as far as 1997.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa described Chihuri as a cartel leader who abused his office to protect the G40 cabal.
“He failed to act on (former Education minister) Jonathan Moyo when the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission had compiled a docket against him. He (Chihuri) kept criminals in the G40 cabal out of prison, but was quick to arrest war veterans for demanding that he arrests corrupt people. He should just resign,” he said.
Peoples Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume echoed similar sentiments, urging Chihuri to resign and save himself the humiliation of being fired.