Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu says government would bring more changes in the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) as it seeks to reform the force.
The police minister, who torched a storm after refusing to cooperate with a Parliamentary portfolio committee recently, told the Senate on Thursday to expect more changes in the ZRP.
“We are trying to re-sensitise them (police) and we will deploy them in different areas. We want to start from their leadership and try to re-assign them. We are doing that exercise up to the lower ranks. We want people to see different police officers and we are also asking from you (senators) to assist us in this exercise that we are doing,” he said.
Mpofu said it has become critical to move bodies around in the police force as some of the law enforcement agents had overstayed in their stations.
He said: “Some of them have stayed for long and have built relations with the chiefs and the community members and when we try to redeploy them, some of them will negotiate with you so that you can understand them because they now have homes or other things that they have acquired in those areas”.
Mpofu said the police were unprofessional and were harassing people.
He said police officers were no longer doing what they were trained to do.
“The police officers in the past days or months were showing a sign of not having much zeal in their work …,” he said.
“The work is still ongoing… However, for you to change someone’s mind, you have to train that person. Sometimes even if someone is trained, you need to re-sensitise that person because some of us tend to forget,” he said.
“I was talking to them last week; there are certain police officers who have stayed for a long period in one district. Sometimes when you befriend people for a long time, it becomes difficult to arrest them. We are trying to reshuffle them to change that mindset.”
He admitted, the reforms were no stroll in the park.
It is a very difficult operation that we are doing but what I know is, it is achievable,” said Mpofu.
“The president has emphasised on restructuring the police force. It is a huge task that we are doing. You will realise that you are no longer seeing them on the streets, especially on the roadblocks, which was one of the major activities that they seemed to enjoy doing.”
One of the major achievements of Operation Restore Legacy, which cost former president Robert Mugabe’s job has been the marked reduction in police roadblocks.
Despite a deafening public outcry for the ZRP to scale down its roadblock, the force could not back down, hindering the smooth flow of tourist traffic and spoiling the tourism experience.
The roadblocks only disappeared after the army stepped in mid November last year, to deal with “criminals” around Mugabe.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who swept to power on the back of the military intervention, has so far made a number of changes in the ZRP, with long-serving commissioner-general, Augustine Chihuri, being retired.
Chihuri, who received his military training at Mgagao in Tanzania and had been the longest-serving police chief after he assumed the helm of the force in 1993, had served the ZRP for 24 years.
He took over the reins as acting commissioner in 1991 replacing Henry Mukurazhizha.
Two years later he eventually became substantive police commissioner in 1993.
In 2008, he was appointed to commissioner-general when the post was created to replace that of commissioner.
Hard on the heels of Chihuri’s retirement, Mnangagwa followed that up with the retirement of 11 members of the police service namely commissioners Grace Nomsa Ndebele and Mekia Tanyanyiwa; senior assistant commissioners Godfrey Munyonga, Justice Chifunye Chengeta, Douglas Jabulani Nyakutsikwa, Robert Tendero Masukusa, Erasmus Makodza, Prudence Chakanyuka, Eve Mlilo, Grace Maenzanise and Munyori Taedzerwa.
And just recently, several senior officers in the Police Protection Unit who were providing security to Mugabe were redeployed.
And on February 12, Mnangagwa announced the appointed of Godwin Matanga substantive commissioner-general of the ZRP, effectively taking over from Chihuri who retired last December.
In a statement, the chairperson of the Public Service commission, Mariyawanda Nzuwah, said the appointment was in terms of section 22 (1) and 2 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment number 20 as read with section 340 (1).