FORMER President Robert Mugabe’s nephew and Deputy Police Commissioner-General (administration) Innocent Matibiri and hordes of other top police commanders were yesterday fired from the force.
More officers were set to be shown the exit door as President Emmerson Mnangagwa moves to weed out top police officers who allegedly presided over the rot in the force alongside ousted former Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri.
The purges – disguised as retirements – have so far affected commissioners and senior assistant commissioners who are unlikely to be replaced as the police service moves to a leaner and more effective command element.
A highly-placed government source said the ongoing realignment of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) was a continuation of Operation Restore Legacy started on November 15 by the military.
“This is part of Operation Restore Legacy which will see nearly all the top brass who allegedly helped Chihuri preside over the rot in the police force being forced out. Their posts are not going to be filled except crucial areas. More than 200 bosses will leave office in the next few months,” the source said.
The sources told NewsDay that Matibiri was fired along with Commissioner Grace Ndebele (training and human resources), Senior Assistant Commissioners Douglas Nyakutsikwa (Mashonaland East), Eve Mlilo (legal) Wiklef Makamache (finance), Erasmus Makodza (anti-stock-theft), Prudence Chakanyuka (printers) and Justice Chengeta (human resources), among others.
The retirement of senior assistant commissioners and commissioners follows the decision to retire Chihuri, who was a perceived sympathiser of the G40 faction in Zanu PF which was reportedly opposed to Mnangagwa’s ascendancy.
According to a letter written to one of the commissioners, Ndebele, by ZRP Acting Police Commissioner-General, Godwin Matanga, the top officers are set to be paid three months’ salary in lieu of three months’ notice of termination.
“This letter serves to advise you on your retirement from the Zimbabwe Republic Police in terms of section 22 subsection (3) of the Police Act (Chapter 11;10) effective from midnight of the 19th of January 2018,” part of Matanga’s letter read.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she was unaware of the dismissals as she was not in office.
But sources said Charamba was part of the team that was in the firing line.
“I am not at the office, I don’t know, talk to the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Police Service Commission,” Charamba said.
Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu refused to comment, referring all questions to the Mariyawanda Nzuwah-led Police Service Commission.
“That is an operational issue, talk to the Police Service Commission, they will give you the actual position,” Mpofu said
Nzuwah could not be reached for comment.
Others who were said to have fallen by the sword include Commissioner Olga Bungu (former aide to former First Lady Grace Mugabe), Angeline Guvamombe (Support Unit), Mekia Tanyanyiwa (Support Unit), Godfrey Munyonga (Criminal Investigation Department) and Robert Masukusa (transport).
The dismissals are, however, in contrast with what is happening in the military where a number of officers have been promoted while others have been retired and redeployed to government departments. So far, Mnangagwa has promoted officers in the military, raising speculation that the move was meant to reward those who participated in Operation Restore Legacy which forced Mugabe’s resignation.
The police force together with the State intelligence were said to have been working against a Zanu PF faction loyal to Mnangagwa dubbed Lacoste.
Since Operation Restore Legacy, the police have been forced to take a back seat with some of their duties such as highway patrols being stopped.
According to insiders, the retirements were also aimed at weeding out those linked to Chihuri, whose reign had been characterised by corruption and brutality.
Posts that were likely to be rendered redundant were those of staff officer, chief of staff and commissioner operations, which roles would be rationalised and taken over by other members of the service.
“Provinces will also be affected because there are redundant posts which were created just to loot. These will be thinned in due course, while in-house training to refocus the police service is pursued,” the source said.
All top police officers who have reached the age of 50 are being forced out, while those below 50, but have served for more than 20 years, are also being shown the exit.
Others were kicked out for dabbling in the fallen G40 factional politics.
The source said this was also in line with Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s budget statement which proposed the retirement of all government employees who have reached pensionable age.
From the police, insiders said the purge would move to the Central Intelligence Organisation.