Police corruption: letter to Commissioner Augustine Chihuri

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Dear Commissioner Chihuri
I am a loyal and very committed supporter of Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe and the ideals of the liberation struggle. I am perpetually grateful to those who sacrificed and put their lives on hold to liberate this country, yourself Commissioner Chihuri included in that list of gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe. I will defend those ideals and guiding principles as they define my country Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe, meaning a house built of stone, solid and impenetrable to any breaches. I am writing to you Commissioner Chihuri because those stone walls have been breached by an unworthy enemy called corruption and corruption has made the Great Enclosure its permanent home.
It is that springy Zimbabwean spirit that has elevated and sustained this country from the profundity of despondency to the peak of expectancy. The recent Zanu PF victory reaffirmed the spirit of the triumphant war of liberation that lifted the people of Zimbabwe from the dark hole of colonialism and apartheid to the revered pedestal of liberty and anticipation. The elections have been and won and we now have a stable government in place. The euphoria and anxiety following the recent Zanu PF win distinctly emphasises the weight on government of a sanction-ravaged, poverty-stricken people’s prevision and the challenges ahead for the government.
Our focus now must be on rebuilding and rebranding, reshaping and revamping Zimbabwe to create a solid economy, a home-grown economy and a people-orientated economy. The government has an obligation to create an economy with definite and specific objectives to meliorate citizen’s lives and inspirit a prosperous and flourishing Zimbabwean economic biogenesis. The police force has dutiful obligation to the public they serve and they MUST be accountable for their actions.
Now my question to you Commissioner Chihuri is what are you doing to address the immoral cancer that has remained perpetually in remission on nearly our entire police force? Our police force has to deliver, must deliver and that is not an option! Our police force must nurture a commitment to accountability, quality and trust in this rebranding and redesigning process. A tough ask, but has to be done, must be done and will be done.
I am not here to lecture you Commissioner Chihuri and I will make it clear that I have utmost respect for you and the role you play in keeping Zimbabwe a safe country under the circumstances. The violence and crime in our neighbour to the south only highlight the excellent work you and the police officers do and for that am very grateful. We have heard you come out and tell the Zimbabwean public that you are committed to tackling corruption and that we welcome. However talk of commitment alone minus action and an actual consequence for the corrupt officials is not good enough. We need in place effective credible systems to investigate complaints of police corruption and misconduct.Advertisement

I am not here to criticise you and the police force, Commissioner Chihuri because I am aware of the mammoth task you have at hand. But we need effective systems in place to chemo this cancer diagnosed as corruption into oblivion.  We need a department or special unit (preferably independent of the police) to deal with public concerns and complaints against corrupt officers. This must not just be a gimmick unit but a well-staffed, well-defined, well-resourced and able to operate effectively unit! There must be robust checks in place when recruiting for such a unit and only proven officers of exceptionally good character traits must staff this unit.
Commissioner Chihuri, any anti-corruption strategy must seek to overcome mistrust, the public need to be convinced that complaints against the police will be properly investigated and that corruption will be tackled. There is need for effective internal controls such as effective supervision and investigations of complaints against the police and these must be reinforced by external and independent oversight mechanisms. The police must be accountable for their actions. Oversight systems must be independent civilian bodies and these should meet regularly with senior police management to review police performance, operational effectiveness and other relevant issues. Commissioner Chihuri, such a body will ensure police accountability, efficiency and effectiveness and such an oversight function can contribute greatly to raising police professional standards through the promotion of good practice and can contribute to developing public confidence and trust in the police once again.
What about every police officer having their identification number visible to the public they serve to ensure accountability for his or her action? What about an Anti-corruption hotline so that incidents of corruption are dealt with immediately? As a citizen, I would welcome such a hotline and I would expect action to be taken against corrupt officials. I am sure you might already have all these systems in place but it seems the cancer is still spreading. Are the systems fit-for-purpose? How often are they reviewed? After the review what action plans arise? I have so many questions Commissioner and that is because I am frustrated.
Trust and accountability are paramount and there is an urgent need to start rebuilding that relationship with the Zimbabwean public; to build that trust that seems to have been irreversibly broken. There must be an undertaking to accountability for its long term upshot and precise focus on bringing everyone on board as Zimbabwe’s revolution-coated evolutionary ascent and accretion is every Zimbabwean’s morally indelible and birth-tattooed duty. Zimbabweans must share the vision, hanker collective national goals and collective national aspirations. No saviour is going to descend from some alien lands to cure this cancer for us. We all owe it to our country.
There is an urgent need to find collaborative ways of working, harnessing the power of deliberation and negotiation. The police and the public listening to one another, understanding one another and everyone must start contributing. Misunderstandings breed suspicion and distrust fosters national retrogression and corruption will only further take root. We are the Zimbabweans and for Zimbabwe to flourish and prosper we must start by building one another and foster a sense of shared ownership. Let us all shy away from negative anticipation and a pessimistic prospect. There must be mutual respect between the police and the public. A safer and corrupt-free Zimbabwe is everyone’s responsibility and the eventual desired outcome.
Thank you for taking time to read this Commissioner Chihuri. Yours in the same struggle against neo-colonialism
Bernard Bwoni (concerned and frustrated citizen)