Chihuri orders police force to ensure ZANU PF wins elections
By Tichaona Sibanda
At the end of last year Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri once
again ignited controversy by telling senior cops if they are not going to
support ZANU PF in this year’s elections, ‘they’re not fit to wear the
uniform and its decorated medals.’
Chihuri, a fiercely loyal Robert Mugabe supporter, also ordered the force to
ensure that ZANU PF wins the next elections.
He was speaking to senior officers, from the rank of Assistant Commissioner
to Deputy Commissioner, gathered at a retreat in the Vumba in the Eastern
Highlands, last December.
He told them: ‘The time to leave is now, if you are not going to toe the
line,’ according to a report carried by South Africa’s Mail and Guardian
Chihuri’s address to the police was a major topic of discussion in cabinet
this week where a copy of his speech was read out verbatim for ministers.
Mugabe chaired the meeting but did not contribute anything to the debate.
The release of Chihuri’s speech during Cabinet proceedings was designed to
emphasise how partisan the police force is.
According to the Mail and Guardian the four-day meeting, convened to
strategise for the referendum and elections, ended up as an indoctrination
exercise. Instead of dealing with policy issues, the cops spent most of the
time being told how to deal with political opponents not aligned to ZANU PF.
During the retreat the police officers discussed tactical strategies to
subdue political opponents, disrupt rallies or meetings and target
influential individuals in rural areas. They also discussed how to target
non-governmental organisations as ways to ‘safeguard the revolution.’
Some of the senior officers, who spoke to the paper on condition of
anonymity, said Chihuri issued veiled threats to them, that ‘anyone seen to
be aiding and supporting the enemy should ship out of the force.’
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director, McDonald Lewanika, told SW Radio
Africa’s Election Watch program on Friday that the latest police crackdown
on civil society is a result of ZANU PF’s resolutions passed during their
Gweru conference in December.
‘Chihuri, being a well known ZANU PF supporter, is simply implementing what
came out of the resolutions in Gweru,’ Lewanika said.
In one of the recent crackdowns on civic groups police targeted Radio
Dialogue, a community radio project in Bulawayo. They briefly detained its
director and confiscated a number of wind up radios.
Lewanika said that one of the resolutions at the end of the ZANU PF
conference was against what the party calls the ‘pirate’ radio stations
broadcasting into Zimbabwe. The resolution said the party was, ‘dismayed by
the continuing violation of international law which has undermined the GPA
through the sponsorship of pirate radio stations by the British, American
and Dutch governments that respectively sponsor SW Africa, Studio Seven and
The former ruling party also resolved to ‘condemn the EU and white
Commonwealth countries for supplying ICT gadgets, such as cellphone,
decoders, radios to communities to create conditions for the broadcast and
spread of falsehoods.
On Friday, Jestina Mukoko from the Zimbabwe Peace Project was charged with
taking part in the running of an unregistered organisation, and possessing
smuggled radios and cellphones.
Lewanika added: ‘You can see that what the police are doing came from the
ZANU PF conference. They’re now criminalising and disrupting CSO’s and NGO’s
and stopping them from doing their work.’ He added that he was certain the
police will attempt to shut down some of these organisations.
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