Opposition leaders and ordinary citizens received with joy news that Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner general Augustine Chihuri started his leave on the 15th of December pending his retirement from the service.
News of his retirement went viral on social media with many saying it was “long overdue” and “good riddance” to a man who turned the once respected police force into a corrupt, brutal and feared unit.
Chihuri was also accused of being part of a section of security service chiefs who defended former president Robert Mugabe’s hegemony.
His officers were also known to use brute force and for extortionist tendencies at various road blocks but failing to maintain peace and order in the country.
Announcing the news Monday, chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, said Chihuri’s deputy Godwin Matanga had been appointed acting Commissioner General.
Sibanda also announced that Commander of the Defence Forces (CDF) Constantino Chiwenga who led the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe last month is set to retire pending redeployment with Lt General Phillip Valerio Sibanda being promoted to the rank of a full General and assuming the post of Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
Before Sibanda’s latest promotion and appointment he was Commander of the National Army and Monday announced the return to barracks of the military and the end of Operation Restore Legacy at a press briefing at Tongogara Barracks in Harare.
But it is the retirement of Chihuri that went viral on social media with most saying it was “good riddance”.
Elton Mangoma, Coalition of Democrats 2018 presidential candidate, said it was good news that Chihuri was leaving ZRP.
“Hopefully a better face who will be more professional and not take their job to support Zanu PF will come in,” Mangoma said.
He added, “The police must serve all Zimbabweans and we hope that when the new face has been appointed they will look after all Zimbabweans not with what we have seen with the outgoing Chihuri.”
Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngaruvhume also welcomed Chihuri’s departure.
“It’s time for him to retire and eat what he has looted, Zimbabwe needs change and the only way to change is to elect a new government in 2018,” he said.
People’s Democratic Party national spokesperson Jacob Mafume said: “He shall not be remembered fondly, he is an example of what not to do when you get a post in government,” he said.
“People who got fantastically rich on taxpayers money, how does one have millionaires for police chief; we do not like Chihuri at all.
Others said Chihuri must not go alone but all the ZRP top brass must be “retired” and warned Mnangagwa not to welcome him into full time politics.
Chihuri was recently booed by thousands of Zimbabweans during the inauguration ceremony of President Emerson Mnangagwa when he pledged his allegiance, a clear sign that he was no longer wanted.
A war veteran, Chihuri was notably absent on the day when the then commander general of the ZDF Chiwenga threatened a coup.
The outgoing Commissioner General’s contract was renewed 13 times since the 1990s by Mugabe but information said their relationship went sour after Chihuri was accused of being a member of Mujuru faction (former vice president) with unconfirmed reports saying that he once tendered his resignation letter in 2014.
Within the police force, Chihuri was accused of fraud by officers, promoting his relatives and friends despite not sitting for the mandatory promotional examinations and integrating Zanu PF militias into the force.
He was also accused, together with his wife Isabel, of forcing junior officers to buy his book and anything that she [wife] was selling through the Kuyedza Womens’ Club.
At the height of the land invasions, Chihuri refused to send officers to arrest war veterans and openly declared that he was a Zanu PF member.