Police should draw lessons from last week’s disturbances which claimed two lives in Harare and implement acceptable ways of handling difficult situations, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Dr Obert Mpofu has said.
Addressing senior police officers in Harare yesterday, Dr Mpofu said political parties which thrive on chaos would have no room for mischief during the forthcoming harmonised elections.
He said Government would continue monitoring the police’s actions to see if they were responsive to the aspirations of the people.
Yesterday’s meeting was meant to review policing initiatives and progress registered in the last two months.
“Regardless of the circumstances, there should be a better and acceptable way of handling even the most difficult situations,” Dr Mpofu said.
“I urge you to draw life lessons from that regrettable incident. When you engage the public bear in mind the legal doctrine that says ‘It is better that 10 guilty persons escape than one innocent person suffers.”
He added: “The police derives its mandate from the people. The police comes from the society, from society you belong and you shall return. Never, therefore, should your deeds be at cross purposes with the laws, values and aspirations of the society. When called upon to investigate crime, make sure you investigate crime not people.”
Dr Mpofu said in enforcing the law, there should be “greater accountability on the part of the police”.
“While society expects law enforcement agents to match criminals blow for blow, in the same measure they also assume they will be protected from excesses of the police as they execute their routine duties,” he said.
Dr Mpofu said the police would not stand by while misguided elements inconvenienced the citizenry.
“Some leaders or political parties have survived on an environment that is not peaceful,” he said. “The position of maintaining peace that the President has pronounced may not be favourable to them and they will do everything within their power to create chaos and confusion so that they continue benefiting.
“If our police officers intervene it becomes an issue of lack of peace and stability. We will do everything to ensure such things won’t happen. I have assured stakeholders including diplomats, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country representative Mr Bishow Pajuli that elections will proceed freely and peacefully.”
Dr Mpofu gave separatist group Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) as an example of organisations trying to foment chaos in the country.
The group this week disrupted a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) in Lupane.
“It is surprising that meetings have been disrupted by an organised group which was calling for that Commission to be in place,” said Dr Mpofu.
He warned politicians against interfering with police operations.
Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga said some police stations were being downsized, while other functions would be merged.
“The recent massive transfers from depots are examples to fulfil this desire,” he said. “The Zimbabwe Republic Police shall, as an ongoing initiative, analyse current establishments within its structure to identify redundant stations and sections or those whose functions are operationally duplicative of others.
“Soon, we shall be launching the Zimbabwe Republic Police patrol unit in Harare Central and Chitungwiza districts. The purpose of the patrol unit is to ensure there are police officers deployed round the clock on crime prevention duties. The patrol unit will be rolled out to all urban areas and cities.”
Dr Mpofu said the police would heighten intelligence-led policing mechanisms to ensure peace before, during and after the elections.