Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
POLICE Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga yesterday banned police from eating and smoking in public as he cleanses a force whose image had been badly battered during the Augustine Chihuri era.
Comm-Gen Matanga also prohibited the police from walking around with hands in their pockets. He ordered police officers to stop wearing civilian attire when going and returning from work, saying they must always wear their uniforms to increase visibility.
Comm-Gen Matanga said ZRP was going through a restructuring exercise and police were expected to increase visibility and aid crime prevention.
Spending time on mobile phones has also been banned.
Addressing senior police officers at the Police Protection Unit (PPU) in Harare yesterday, Comm-Gen Matanga said it was unacceptable for officers deployed to be absent or even temporarily stray from point of guard and duties.
“Across all provinces where police uniforms are worn, junior members have of late developed a practice of putting on civilian attire when they travel to and from work. I do not know why members shun police uniform.
“I really wonder whether this stems from their failure to appreciate the effect of police visibility to the prevention of crime.
“This practice should cease forthwith. Corrective action should be preferred against anyone doing so without sufficient cause of leave of the superiors,” he said.
He warned police against engaging in corruption and exhorted discipline.
“I am reliably informed that the distribution of police uniforms was being done in an opaque manner that borders on corruption. Resultantly, some so called ‘connected’ members continued to access uniforms at the prejudice of others.
“On this note, I am pleased to inform you that I have since instituted measures to ensure transparency.
“I urge you to report all underhand dealings which take place in the distribution of resources.
“Corrupt individuals should be exposed to allow decisive action to be taken,” said Comm-Gen Matanga.
He said while they might be challenges in accessing basics like uniforms, it was unpleasant for cops to wear dirty ones.
“Acts of walking with hands in pockets, carrying bags while in police in uniform are now the norm rather than exception.
“Some members unashamedly spend most of their time swiping on their phones even in circumstances where a high level of alertness is demanded. That has to be corrected. We cannot condone deeds that debase our organisation like that. The onus is, therefore, upon all of us to collectively take bold steps that put a stop to such disgusting practices which apparently are alien to our police discipline. We certainly cannot continue normalising the abnormal,” added Comm-Gen Matanga.
He said the ongoing restructuring exercise was meant to ensure the ZRP has personnel devoted to their work.
Comm-Gen Matanga said some posts would be abolished, while other sections would be trimmed.
Those performing duplicate roles would be disbanded. He said he was alive to the challenges facing the ZRP like shortage of vehicles, accommodation and unserviceable communication equipment.
Comm-Gen Matanga pledged to lobby for increased fiscal support to address some of the challenges.
The meeting was attended by the officer commanding PPU Senior Assistant Commissioner Lee Muchemwa and senior police officers.