HARARE – Under-fire police, in a bid to stamp the worsening rot within its ranks, last year suspended 357 officers over misconduct amid growing calls for the revamp of law enforcement system by the restive populace and opposition parties.
At the same time, the roadblock saga which has seen police come under heavy criticism from the motoring public and international tourists, has finally attracted the attention of the presidium.
Deputy Home Affairs minister Obedingwa Mguni on Wednesday told Parliament that they were acting on the worsening rot within the police force.
“That is a worry that we as the leaders of Home Affairs have to balance security versus quality service to our citizenry. When the police officers are trained and deployed on the ground, some are doing other things that are not according to the police policy as a force, which they need to be disciplined on.
“The disciplining mechanism which is there in the police has actually seen the suspension of more than 357 police officers last year who had been doing other things that are outside their working scope,” Mguni said.
“Therefore, it is also the duty of the public to understand what is expected from a policeman so that if that police officer commits something outside the working scope, he has to be reported so that we deal with the police office,” he added.
Mguni was responding to Kuwadzana East legislator (MDC) Nelson Chamisa who questioned the conduct of police officers after they ambushed and fired teargas at MDC officials who were conducting a voter registration campaign in Lupane last month.
Among those teargased was MDC vice president Thokozani Khupe.
“Is there going to be a revamp of how the police work looking at what happened two weeks ago when women had a meeting in the rural areas and tear gas was thrown at them.
“Even livestock were affected because of the smoke. Is there anything that is going to be done on how the police work? Looking at how they throw spikes, it is like the police are not working well with the people.
“Is there anything that is going to be done for them to work well with the people because they do not belong to any political party but to the people?” Chamisa asked Mguni.
Meanwhile, police roadblocks have finally caught the attention of President Robert Mugabe’s office with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday telling Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo to engage his Tourism counterpart Walter Mzembi to sort out the contentious issue.
“I am aware that the issue of roadblocks has been raised by a number of tourists. As government, we remain committed to the free movement of tourists and the need to ensure their safety. I therefore urge the two ministers of Home Affairs (and Tourism and Hospitality Industry to sit down together under one roof and further determine how the need for safety and movement of tourists can be guaranteed,” Mnangagwa said.
Last week, Mzembi once again complained about the numerous police roadblocks which he said were driving away tourists.
A recent survey conducted by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) revealed that nearly 10 000 tourists rated police services as “very poor”, with half of them vowing never to visit the country again after enduring endless harassment at many roadblocks.