Anxiety as police return to work
20 December 2017
WHILE the Zimbabwe Defence Forces announced the end of Operation Restore Legacy, handing over normal policing duties to the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the announcement has been received lukewarmly.
Anxious citizens and many social media users said the decision to commit the transition ahead of the festive season is another way to have the police milking people of their money.
“Haa masoja hamuite shuwa kutidzosera kumapurisa paChristmas here boyz?” asked one Tapiwa Linge Chamu on social media.
Gen. Phillip Valerio Sibanda said the operation that began on November 13, had achieved its objectives, among them removal of criminals around former President Robert Mugabe.
The absence of police roadblocks along the country’s major highways and other busy roads during the operation’s period was embraced by both commuters and commuter omnibus operators, even vendors.
Demands for kickbacks and taking policing duties for granted incensed many travellers who said the ZRP had made a detour from its constitutional obligations.
Now that Operation Restore Legacy has come to an end after five weeks, vendors, commuters and transport operators have made their intentions clear about the resumption of duties by police.
Lt-Gen Sibanda urged members of the public to comply with the transition.
“Today as the Defence Forces hand over all normal day to day policing duties to the Zimbabwe Republic Police we to urge all our citizens to allow for a smooth transition,” said Lt-Gen Sibanda.
A survey by the H-Metro yesterday showed mixed feelings across members from different sectors.
Harare City Council corporate communications manager Michael Chideme said city fathers are expecting enhanced cooperation with the ZRP as they push for the removal of vendors from the CBD to designated selling points.
“We expect enhanced cooperation from the police. In the past few weeks we have been operating with the military and the police and people have been complying.
“Nothing is amiss. We have a good working relationship with the police and we are hopeful that they help us meet our objective to remove illegal vendors from the streets,” said Chideme.
Stewart Muchatibaya, who sells clothes at Joina City, along Jason Moyo, said the army has given power to enemies of the people.
“The most corrupt person is a police officer, and I am worried that the timing is wrong. I stay in Budiriro 2, during this Operation Restore Legacy, we never had problems while commuting to town.
“I feel happier in the presence of the army officers unlike the police. They have to revise the announcement,” said Muchatibaya.
A local omnibus driver, Tendai Sande, said he felt he was in an independent Zimbabwe during the period of Operation Restore Legacy.
“Now that the operation is over, it means the chase game with the police is set. Mapurisa futi here akomana?” he said.
Harare Residents Trust Director Precious Shumba said the end of Operation Restore Legacy should herald a new era of policing by the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
“The departure of the military from the streets is a most welcome development. However, we hope that the military have done a good job in transferring some of their skills upon the police in terms of professionalism and integrity.
The police remain suspect in the eyes of the citizens.
“The top command of the Police Service is the one that is most accused of corruption, with the junior officers simply carrying out instructions in line with daily (fundraising) targets. This must be a thing of the past.
“It would have been better if the whole police system was reset to align its mandate to the thrust of the new government under President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” said Shumba.
Shumba also said the Zimbabwe Defence Forces should maintain their presence within the police services by deploying members to accompany all the teams conducting investigations and ensuring that the Police become more accountable to the citizenry.
“Policing is not about having more traffic police officers but it is all about fighting crime in all its forms. The police could start with conducting civic education, in partnership with churches, civil society and local authorities to regain the trust of the people,” he added.