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Zimbabwe Politics In Police Uniform

In Zimbabwe, it is part of the constitution that police officers are to be apolitical. This is covered by the Police Act, and includes all police officer – not just those that choose to do their own thing. But the police chief, Augustine Chihuri, has chosen to ignore this requirement and has hitched his star to ZANU PF’s wagon.

He has threatened to dismiss any police officer found to be sympathetic to the MDC. And he expects every officer to be a ZANU PF supporter.

Obviously, this is unacceptable to us who live in the free world, but in Zimbabwe, ZANU PF affiliation is really the only way to be able to live from one day to the next. I am glad that I left the Zimbabwe Republic Police when I did.

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Two senior police officers and an ex-policeman have been arrested, with the serving officers being summarily transferred to remote police stations outside Harare, after they were accused of allegedly leaking police information to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Police sources have revealed that Senior Assistant Commissioner Justice Chengeta last week ordered the arrest of Superintendents Casper Nhepera and another one identified only as Madiko for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act.

Chengeta had walked into an office which was being used by the two at the Police General Headquarters to find them entertaining one Macmillan Mukombachoto, whom Chengeta accused of being a secret MDC agent.

Chengeta, who has a declared incorrigible dislike for the MDC, was further agitated by the fact that Mukombachoto had produced a computer flash disk from which his former colleagues took delight in downloading music.

Justice Chengeta – now there is a name that I haven’t heard for a very long while. He was in my squad (9/81) in training in 1981 and won the Best Recruit award. I think I even have a picture in an old “The Outpost” magazine of him receiving the award.

I don’t doubt for one second that Chengeta has an attitude against the MDC – as I dimly recall, he was a man who kept to himself and when he did speak, it was with adverse comments.

That is 29 years serve that Chengeta has pulled and to rise from a lowly Patrol Officer to Senior Assistant Commissioner is not a bad achievement – but we must remember that his political affiliations would never have hurt his progress. (Please note that the rank of Patrol Officer and Section Officer have been removed from the rank structure.)

Chengeta immediately ordered their arrest,” said a source. They spent the weekend detained at Harare Central Police Station.”

As they were languishing in custody, their transfer papers were being processed.

Nhepera was transferred to Nkayi in Matabeleland North Province while Madiko was moved to Nyanga in Manicaland.

Mukombachoto is a former police officer who worked for over 20 years as a lower ranking policeman. For most of his service he worked as a photographer for Outpost, the monthly magazine of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

The Zimbabwe Times could not readily establish when the accused are likely to go on trial for the alleged offence.

Chengeta who is regarded with awe in the police force is among Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri’s top lieutenants. He has been at the forefront of “cleansing” Zimbabwe’s heavily politicized police force of both known and suspected MDC sympathizers.

I do question as to what crime these two officers are meant to have committed as, if supporting a political party is an offence, then Chihuri and Chengeta should also be charged with the same offence.

Robb WJ Ellis
The Bearded Man

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