New Zimbabwe police chief admits past mistakes and pledges to work for the people

New Zimbabwe police chief admits past mistakes and pledges to work for the people

Newly appointed Police chief in Zimbabwe has embarked on an ambitious plan to restore the confidence of the public in the force. Acting Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner, General Godwin Matanga while addressing senior police officers for the first time since the retirement of former police chief Chihuri, said the police had become unpopular and anti-people under Chihuri’s leadership.

Matanga pledged reforms including acceptance of critical feedback from the public and strict adherence to the institution’s Code of Conduct and the Police Client Service Charter.

‘‘We are obliged to take heed of matters that are of concern to the public as they have a right to point out our mistakes. And, at times, do not expect them to use restraint language in doing so. Where needs be, our on-going desire should be to use the complaints as a yardstick of reforming and re-engineering our services,” he said.

During Chihuri’s time, the police had become unpopular mounting numerous roadblocks where they were charging spot fines on motorists for “silly” traffic offences and forcing people to pay bribes.

The new police chief admitted that the police had become arrogant forgetting that ‘the Zimbabwe Republic Police, like most modern police organisations, derive their legitimacy from the people’.

In a similar demonstration of reform, Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, met with representatives of media organisations and agreed on a raft of actions to secure a safe and conducive working environment for journalists.

The meeting was a follow up to one held in September 2016 when assaults of journalists during the course of their duties, confiscation of cameras and deletion of video clips by the police thereby souring relations between the two parties.

From the latest meeting, it was agreed that ‘police officers are trained on the role of journalists’ and that ‘any form of assault on journalists during the lawful performance of their duties should be reported and dealt with by the police as enshrined in their mandate’.

Journalists were also encouraged to ‘approach and introduce themselves to ground commanders whenever there are public disorder situations and in cases where they are aggrieved’.

As President Mnangagwa delivered his first state of the nation address in Harare on Wednesday, he emphasised accountability and reform as pillars of his government. The new police leadership seems to have been keenly listening.