In a sh0cking turn of events, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Constable Henry Masimbe finds himself in hot water after attending an opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) rally in Matabeleland North. Masimbe, a nine-year veteran of the force, was arraigned in a police court on charges of contravening Police Service Chapter 10.11 sections 29 and 34, which strictly prohibit active involvement in politics.
According to the charge sheet, Masimbe allegedly attended a CCC rally at Nesigwe Growth Point last Wednesday, despite being off duty. While he claimed to have gone to the Nesigwe police camp to collect a murder docket, witnesses reported seeing Masimbe dressed in civilian clothes enthusiastically participating in the opposition rally.
Eyewitnesses observed Masimbe “following the convoy of the CCC and party leader Nelson Chamisa, chanting ‘that one, that one, the young man has arrived.'” The constable, reportedly caught up in the fervor of the event, also chanted, “The young man should enter,” referring to Chamisa, who at 45 years old is the main rival of 80-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The police charge stated that Masimbe was seen clapping hands and acknowledging Chamisa’s speech, further implicating him in active political involvement. These actions directly contravene the regulations prohibiting police officers from participating in political activities.
This incident marks the second case involving a police officer entangled in election-related violations. Assistant Inspector Chester Matsa, who had been investigating a complaint involving defaced CCC posters allegedly linked to Minister Barbara Rwodzi’s election runners, faced severe criticism from the minister herself. Rwodzi, who is also the Zanu-PF MP for Chirumhanzu South and deputy tourism minister, publicly labeled Matsa a “dog” and a “stupid idiot.”
In response to the backlash, Matsa went into hiding, fearing further intimidation. The police issued a radio dispatch last week, urging Matsa to report for work and warning that if located, he would be arrested and detained.
The ZRP’s strict stance on political neutrality among its ranks has come under scrutiny following these incidents. As the cases unfold, questions arise about the extent to which officers can exercise their democratic rights while remaining impartial in Zimbabwe’s highly charged political landscape.