‘Chihuri out of job’
HARARE – Police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri’s term of office expired yesterday, with coalition government partners immediately saying the Zanu PF-alligned police boss is staying onto the post illegitimately with effect from today.
To compound matters, the Police Service Commission (PSC) that handles his contract is also out of work after its term ended last December.
Coalition government partners are yet to agree on a new PSC board.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, which is against Chihuri’s continued stay in office, says this means Zimbabwe effectively has no police commissioner-general as from midnight yesterday.
Chihuri, the party says, should stay at home forthwith.
Another coalition partner Welshman Ncube says Chihuri is holding onto the office illegally.
Ncube quickly warned that President Robert Mugabe was unlikely to dump Chihuri as demanded by other coalition partners.
Chihuri together with army commanders, are the real force behind Mugabe’s power, making them untouchable, Ncube said.
Mugabe is required to make any such appointments in consultation with his coalition partners as agreed under the power sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA), according to Ncube and Tsvangirai.
But Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba has in the past said Tsvangirai and Ncube will not be allowed to have a say in the election of security chiefs such as Chihuri, a move likely to set off a bitter war within the fragile
Tsvangirai’s spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka said: “As far as we are concerned this country does not have a police commissioner as from midnight today (yesterday) because Chihuri’s term of office is expiring.”
“As far as the prime minister is concerned, Chihuri is no longer the police commissioner because his term expires tonight (yesterday). This simply means that we will wait for Mugabe to consult the PM for a replacement,” said Tamborinyoka.
Tamborinyoka said there were “so many people” within the force who could lead the country’s police force with distinction.
“We have so many people with experience and good reputation to replace Chihuri,” said Tamborinyoka.
Ncube expressed doubt over Mugabe’s willingness to respect the GPA. He said Mugabe might opt to unilaterally reappoint Chihuri, adding his MDC party would take the fight to Mugabe’s doorstep in defence of the power sharing GPA guaranteed by Sadc and African Union.
Ncube was already preparing for the worst when contacted by the Daily News yesterday, saying it was highly unlikely for Mugabe to consult other principals in the coalition government as Chihuri and other security sector commanders were set to come in handy during forthcoming elections.
“It is unexpected for Mugabe to consult. He has not consulted us for the past three years, he has been appointing permanent secretaries and ambassadors without the input of other principals,” said Ncube.
“The best way for this country is not to pin hopes on any one but bravely go for an election and vote this party out of power so that we have democratic people leading such institutions,” Ncube said.
According to Section 6 of the Police Act, the Commissioner-General’s term of office expires at the end of four years. Thereafter, the Commissioner-General may be re-appointed by extending his period of service for 12 months at the end of which in the absence of the letter of appointment extending his services, he ceases to be Commissioner-General of police.”
Chihuri’s term of office expires as the PSC’s term office came to an end last December.
This, according to Ncube, means that it will be difficult for Mugabe to reappoint or make a fresh appointment without constituting the commission.
“There has to be a commission first and then an appointment of the commissioner, this simply means that there is no employer for the police,” Ncube said.
“Legally, the way Zanu PF treats these issues is unconstitutional and against the spirit of GPA,” Ncube said.
Chihuri became the country’s top cop in 1991. Since then he has been at loggerheads with civil society players and MDC officials who accuse him of discharging his duties in a partisan manner.
Tsvangirai has in the past accused security sector commanders of plotting a silent coup after they consistently blocked his political rallies and vowed never to salute him even if he was elected president of the country.
Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka refused to comment.
But Charamba told the Daily News recently that the call by the two MDC formations to have Chihuri out of office was a ploy for security sector reform.
Charamba said Mugabe would go even outside his mandate to protect Chihuri so that any attempts at security sector reform were thwarted.
“The defence forces are not subject to inter-party negotiations,” said Charamba.
“There is nowhere in the GPA or any clause of the constitution where it says the re-appointment of security commanders is going to be the outcome of the inter-party negotiations. This is the prerogative of the commander-in-chief,” said Charamba.
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