Come to think of it the ZANU PF Police and apostolic sect JOKE is not EVEN funny!

3 Jun

I have laughed at these jokes of the Zimbabwean police being beaten by the apostolic sect members all weekend. But come to think of it, IT’S NOT even FUNNY – this is a sad national development. For one moment I thought yes, the police have met their match. But then to what end? For verily verily “violence begets violence”. This has come to pass and the score is now 2 -1 in favor of the Zimbabwe Republic Force but at what cost to the country? Violence and more violence and the ZANU PF leadership is dead silent! For God,s sake, they should show leadership and rise to take control of the nation that is sinking into a cesspool of politically motivated veiled as private citizens differences.

Huge sections of the population in Zimbabwe and abroad are celebrating the incident as a victory against the police. But this tells a bigger story of a nation that is angry; disappointed with its government (security services) and could easily slide to violent ways to resolve deep seated governance and political problems.

First things first! Violence from any quarters should be condemned and punished with the might it deserves. The state through its coercive arms such as the police, army or intelligence organizations should not be allowed to use violence. On the other hand, citizens cannot be allowed to use violence against each other and or against the police. The members of the apostolic church were wrong and committed criminal offences by assaulting the police officers – period. They must be FAIRLY charged and reined before the courts of the law for taking the law into their own hands.

The celebrations from within and outside Zimbabwe reveal a population that is frustrated with the way the police have run affairs in Zimbabwe thus far. The police force is well known for its corrupt tendencies and serious violence perpetrated on dissenting voices to the ruling ZANU PF regime. So definitely, anyone who was going to stand up to the clownish behavior of the police was going to be celebrated. As expected the news would go far and rightly so because in most peoples’ minds the evil forces that are the police force would have met their match and the peoples’ long sought revenge would have been meted out.

The kind of amateurish execution of duties by the police in purportedly trying to investigate cases of abuse of women and children at the apostolic church shrine in Budiriro are largely reprehensible. The police are claiming to have unearthed serious cases of human rights violations in the said church. But honestly this cannot be news to the police. It is a well – known fact that these apostolic sects are notorious for polygamy, child marriages and even denying their children access to medical care claiming that God will take care of them. So for the police to claim that they were going to investigate and try to stop the illegal acts from the shrine and not in the homes where the crimes are happening is preposterous. What evidence did they collect, what witnesses do they have besides the ZANU PF zealot Archbishop Ndanga who led them to “ban” the church.

The Zimbabwean police force has been known to be a partisan ZANU PF extension. Cases in point are the persecutions of Anglican church members who dared to oppose another ZANU PF zealot Bishop Kunonga. The police would beat up congregants at the different churches at the direction of Kunonga and no one would question until a time when even the Archbishop of Canterbury had to call on President Mugabe for the violence to stop. Archbishop Ndanga,s relations with ZANU PF are well documented. He supports ZANU PF by assuring the party votes at election time and in return the state run by ZANU PF looks away at criminal activities in the church such as child marriages, virginity tests and denial of medical care to children. That Ndanga saw it befitting to commandeer police officers to ban a church purportedly committing serious human rights violations against women and children in the church is highly suspicious and must be condemned. Yes, the police can be tipped off by members of the public but in this instance the Archbishop does not seem to have done this in good faith except to further his interest under the protection of ZANU PF (police force).

The Prosecutors must not be quick to condemn the accused without getting fuller details of what actually transpired. Violence could not just have started at the shrine. I am of the view that in this instance the police abused their power of being in police uniforms and state authority and tried to impose themselves on these church goers of course with dire consequences. Information needs to come out on what evidence the police had that they had to go to the shrine, who were they going to arrest; what investigations had they carried before and what evidence did they have? Zimbabweans will need to be told of the senior police officers who gave the orders for the police to be deployed accompanying this said Bishop Ndanga.

It is unfortunate that the police are now using force acquired from the state to arrest and drag the members of the apostolic sect before the courts. Of course the police were always going to emerge victorious in this battle in the end. So no fuss! There is no point for the Zimbabwe Republic Force to boast about it, they are the repositories of force. The leadership of the police force should be “tripping” over each other trying to give orders on who will beat the apostolic faith members the most. This is misguided. In another life, my word of warning is that these same leaders must be reined before the courts of law for failing to lead their subordinates. Infact, assaults by members of the security of forces for clear intentions of extracting information and intimidation and so on are known to attract the wrath of international penalties in a crime called torture. So, police officers must not think that they are invincible. The long arm of international or domestic law will catch up with them. Ask Charles Taylor and others!

This whole issue leads to a more important issue which has continued to skirt governance and democracy discussions in Zimbabwe – security sector reform. Clearly, the security sector in Zimbabwe needs to be reformed so that at a minimum we can have professional police, military and intelligence services. The manner in which the police in this instance behaved calls for serious reforms which include trainings on how to handle investigations; how to respond to restive crowds and even managing public relations. More importantly, a Police Public Complaints Commission should be set up if it’s not already established. Civilian oversight of police services would go a long way in monitoring abuse of office – well this all sounds utopian in Zimbabwe but it would be a good starting point.

Furthermore, there have been calls for the establishment of national healing and reconciliation mechanism to be set up since the 1998 Food Mabvuku Food Riots. The government has been dragging its feet and this might just be high time they woke up and smelt the coffee – even though it is a well – known fact that the ZANU PF government might not welcome such in good faith. Cases of impunity against the police are abundant and there is lack of trust by the citizenry on the police service in many respects. It might just be high time that the government started paying attention to the calls for setting up national, inclusive mechanisms to deal with reconciling the citizenry with the security services.

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