Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)’s deputy commissioner-general (DCG) Innocent Matibiri has had his powers clipped.
Matibiri, who is former president Robert Mugabe’s nephew, has been moved from the powerful post of being in charge of operations to human resources.
Following his reassignment, Levy Sibanda who was in charge of human resources, has been assigned to take his place as ZRP DCG in charge of operations.
Before Mugabe’s resignation on November 21, his nephew was among top police officers who were tipped to succeed police commissioner-general, Augustine Chihuri.
The post of DCG (operations) allowed Matibiri to sit on the Joint Operations Command or Joc — the supreme organ for the coordination of State security in Zimbabwe.
Continuous efforts to get a comment from police spokesperson, Charity Charamba, hit a brick wall yesterday as she continually told the Daily News that “I am in a meeting.”
By the time of going to print, Charamba had not responded to questions sent to her mobile phone.
Security sources at the Police General Headquarters, however, told the Daily News yesterday that Matibiri’s re-assignment must be viewed within the context of recent developments in the country.
“He was moved when the military intervention took place. This has been advised internally, although strangely there has been no memo or radio (communication) sent out to stations to advise of the latest development,” said a ZRP insider.
This comes amid indications that there could be a major shake-up in the ZRP amid heightened pressure on Chihuri to resign.
Chihuri, who was appointed police commissioner in 2008, is not popular with the majority of Zimbabweans.
He is accused of presiding over a corrupt police force that protects criminals, is complicit in human rights abuses and suffers from political bias.
Signs that Chihuri’s star could be waning were on public display on Friday last week when thousands of people who had gathered at the National Sports Stadium in Harare for the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa booed the commissioner-general as he was taking his oath of office and pledging his allegiance to the new Zanu PF leader.
Unlike Chihuri, the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), Constantino Chiwenga, received an overwhelming ovation.
Chihuri may have put himself in an invidious position with the new leadership after the police tried to arrest Chiwenga when he arrived from China — a few days after Mnangagwa had been dismissed from government and Zanu PF.
It is believed that Chihuri and Matibiri had gathered a squad of police details and intelligence agents to wait for the arrival of Chiwenga with the intention to ambush and arrest him. However, the plot leaked and Chiwenga pulled together a counter-team that thwarted the police raid and ensured his safe arrival before the ZDF commander went on to lead the military intervention that forced Mugabe to resign after 37 years at the helm.
Chiwenga had been targeted for arrest due to his alleged links with Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa, who made a stunning comeback in Zanu PF and government after his dismissal, was viewed as a threat to Mugabe’s plan to elevate his wife, Grace, to the presidium.