THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Monday admitted that it had turned partisan and failed to professionally execute its duties during former President Robert Mugabe’s reign, but had now turned a new leaf.
National police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba told journalists in Harare that they were now geared to carry out their mandate without fear or favour and stem political violence in the run-up to this year’s general elections.
“The police are no longer doing business as before, but in this new trajectory, police officers have given guidelines. Some of them were not doing their work properly and they are now doing it properly and they will definitely ensure that all cases (of political violence) that have been reported will be investigated accordingly,” she said.
“I am saying this time around, the leadership has made it very clear that it is no longer business as usual and all police commanders were addressed and people are working towards achieving results – to show that police will be conducting their business in a different way and I am sure you have not seen this before – it shows we are doing our business in a different way.”
Opposition political parties have in the past accused the police of being partisan, arresting violence victims and allowing Zanu PF torture bases in rural areas to thrive, especially in 2008 with alleged Zanu PF perpetrators of violence going scot free.
Charamba said all criminal cases will now be dealt with without discrimination or bias to any political party unlike in the past.
“When I say all cases, I mean all cases irrespective of your political party, skin colour or whether you are female of male; these cases are going to be dealt with and believe me you are going to be seeing this you cannot compare right now … give us time and you will see how we will act,” she said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza, who heads a new unit dealing with cases of political violence said: “Any form of violence, threats of harassment of voters or rival contenders will certainly be dealt with in terms of the country’s law. Adequate security provisions have been put in place by the police to ensure primary and harmonised elections are held in a peaceful environment.”
Makodza added that special courts would be set up to ensure the speedy prosecution of politically-motivated crimes with convicts facing a mandatory 10-year jail sentence.
“The following intimidatory practices which are prohibited under the Electoral Act will not be tolerated, inflicting or threatening bodily injury upon a person, withholding or threatening to withhold from a person or persons assistance or benefit to which that person is legally entitled to,” he said.