Police evasive over former boss, Chihuri’s ‘criminal’ status

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By Richard Chidza

ZIMBABWEAN authorities have remained tight-lipped on whether there has been an official complaint from authorities in neighbouring Malawi regarding reports that former Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri is meddling in that country’s electoral processes.

Early this week, reports from Zimbabwe’s north-eastern neighbour indicated the opposition in Malawi had demanded that he be deported arguing the former police chief was assisting President Peter Mutharika “to rig elections.”

Contacted for comment on whether authorities in Harare had been alerted to Chihuri’s “nefarious activities in Malawi” police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi was evasive.

“If the ZRP has any inquiry concerning an individual who is outside the country, the police will work within the structures of (the International Criminal Police Organisation) Interpol and do not embrace social media claims or such other unverified sources of information,” said Nyathi.

Quizzed to categorically state whether Chihuri was a fugitive from justice in Zimbabwe, Nyathi was skittish.

“We are part of the global community of police and those are the structures we use,” said the police spokesperson.

Nyathi however said as far as police were concerned, there had not been a formal complaint from Malawi as regards Chihuri.

Malawi Vice President and opposition leader Saulos Chilima claimed Chihuri was giving orders to police.

“Some of the concerns that we have noted as we prepare for elections on the 21st of May, number one, there is a gentleman by the name of Augustine Chihuri, who is a former Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Police.

“He is a fugitive on the run and he is responsible for deploying police uniform…we demand that he leaves this country immediately,” Chilima told a press briefing.

Chihuri was swept out of office at the same time as former President Robert Mugabe by the military coup that brought President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power in November 2017.

Chihuri was reportedly a key figure in a faction of Zanu PF known as G40 that was bitterly opposed to Mnangagwa’s then bid to succeed Mugabe.

The then police chief at the time of the coup reportedly tried to come up with a counter-measure to reverse the military’s move using the police before the army took full control.

Following Mnangagwa’s rise to power, Chihuri was sent on leave pending retirement before he was succeeded by Godwin Matanga.

By then the former police boss had left the country and reportedly sought sanctuary in Malawi where his wife hails from.

Chihuri at some point was wanted by authorities in Harare to testify before a Parliamentary inquiry into Mugabe’s claims that some US$15 billion in diamond revenue disappeared from state coffers. Mugabe was later to admit this was a thumb-suck figure.