By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
28 April 2014
Police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri has transferred about 1,000 officers, in a major shake-up aimed at minimizing corruption within the force.
According to a police internal communiqué, the transfers have been approved and are with immediate effect. A report in the Standard newspaper said the move saw junior and senior officers from the minerals unit moved from urban to remote areas and vice versa around the country.
The shake-up follows allegations that some senior officers were working hand in glove with criminal rings in the gold and diamond mining sector. Last month the head of the mineral unit, assistant commissioner Silence Pondo, told Parliament that the police were not obliged to hand over gold recovered from criminal scenes. It is suspected that police officers are taking advantage of the loophole to enrich themselves by selling the recovered minerals in the informal sector.
But observers see the move to transfer officers as an ineffective way to stamp out corruption within the police force. Questions are being asked why the corrupt officers have not been fired and brought before the courts.
The Combined Harare Residents Association spokesman Simbarashe Moyo said ‘Chihuri’s latest move is just a joke.’ Moyo said the affected officers will simply be inconvenienced but not deterred from indulging in corruption. He said: ‘Corruption within the police force has reached levels where it cannot be properly dealt with by the government.’ He said it was an ‘open secret’ in the country that corruption is ‘a way of life’ for most police officers.
Moyo added: ‘Corruption has become so rampant that the police now punish those who resist it. For example, if you own a commuter omnibus and you don’t bribe the police officers they will punish you severely and you will never make any profit.’
A few years ago the Anti-corruption Trust of Southern Africa found that Zimbabwean traffic cops were the most corrupt in the region. Last year Afrobarometer, a research project which measures public attitudes on socio-economic issues, found that Zimbabwe was the third most corrupt African country after joint leaders Nigeria and Egypt.
Reports of police recklessness have also increased of late. According to the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition traffic cops have caused three deaths this year in separate incidents during police chases in Harare. In 2013 one person died, while an elderly woman was knocked down. That’s same year 16 people were injured when a commuter omnibus overturned in Bulawayo under similar circumstances.