Zimbabwe: Chihuri to Go?

Harare — THE three parties in government -- ZANU-PF and the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations -- are set to cross swords once again when police Commissioner-General, Augustine Chihuri's term of office expires at the end of this month, The Financial Gazette can exclusively reveal.

The MDC-T and MDC-M are clamouring to be consulted on either a new appointment or renewal of the police chief's contract under the dictates of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that gave birth to the inclusive government.

But ZANU-PF insiders said the former opposition parties were simply trying to push their luck on an issue they believe is exclusively for President Robert Mugabe to decide.

The GPA forms the pillar for the coalition government, raven by incessant quarrelling among the three partners over the sharing of executive powers.

According to the September 2008 power-sharing agreement -- Article XX 20.1.3 (p) -- that lays the framework for a new government and spells out the duties of the President: "(The President) in consultation with the Prime Minister, makes key appointments the President is required to make under and in terms of the Constitution or any Act of Parliament".

The coalition pact has, however, over the past 18 months faced collapse over the appointment of senior government officials, with ZANU-PF being accused of making unilateral decisions without consulting the other players in the unity government.

Chihuri, who became unpopular with the MDC formations after he openly declared his support for ZANU-PF in 2001, took over from Henry Mukurazhizha in 1991 as acting commissioner before assuming full title in 1993.

While Chihuri's term is limited to four years, President Mugabe has repeatedly extended the commissioner-general's office life by a period of not more than a year.

It is understood that the 86-year-old revolutionary leader was likely to return Chihuri at the helm of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

Chihuri, an ex-combatant who trained in Tanzania and operated in the Mount Darwin area, has been one of President Mugabe's most trusted lieutenants.

In the past, reports have emerged that some senior police officers were interested in taking over from Chihuri.

It is alleged that police deputy commissioners-general for operations, administration and human resources, Innocent Matibiri, Godwin Matanga and Levy Sibanda respectively have also eyed to land the top post.

The issue of the police chief's term of office comes amid a pending issue of appointing new governors who are set to wind-up business next week.

The two MDC formations are seeking a fair share of the new appointments under the 5:4:1 formula understood to have been agreed upon among the political parties.

Under the formula, the MDC-T seeks five governorship posts, ZANU-PF four and one seat to MDC-M.

MDC-T spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, said ZANU-PF needed to respect the GPA when it came to the police commissioner-general's app-ointment and selection of other key government officials.

Chamisa said: "We are in an inclusive government, which has a charter in the form of the GPA.

"This charter defines how appointments are made and we hope and trust that we are going to respect this.

"This appointment is not a ZANU-PF, MDC Tsvangirai or MDC Muta-mbara thing, but it is something done under the inclusive government and if we are supposed to be consulted, then let it be so.

"We don't want a one-man decision because the government is made up of three partners."

MDC-M national spokesperson, Edwin Mushoriwa, said his party needed to be consulted over the next appointment of the police chief.

"Whether Chihuri is retained or not, there must be consultations and I believe ZANU-PF will do that so that at the end of the day we will not be found quarrelling over issues that can be dealt with in a simple manner," said Mushoriwa.

Efforts to get a comment from ZANU-PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, over the reviewing of Chihuri's contract were fruitless as he was said to be out of the country on party business.

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