Zimbabwe: ZRP Ups Campaign for Zanu-PF

THE Zimbabwe Republic Police command has embarked on a full-scale campaign for Zanu PF ahead of high-stakes elections this year in blatant violation of the constitution and Global Political Agreement (GPA).

The move confirms the partisan nature of the country's security forces.

In recent weeks commanders have been touring police stations countrywide urging officers, their spouses and everyone residing in the camps to register for elections and vote Zanu PF.

A top police officer in Harare said senior officers were following orders given by Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri in December.

On Tuesday Chihuri addressed wives of senior police officers in Selous and urged them to vote for Zanu PF. He told the wives, gathered for a Kuyedza Women's Club leadership workshop, that they should be patriotic and demonstrate their love for their country by returning Zanu PF to power.

Kuyedza Women's Clubs run income-generating projects for female police officers and spouses of policemen and are led by female senior officers and wives of senior officers.

Some of the club's leaders have been distributing Zanu PF membership cards to the women they lead.

Taking a cue from Chihuri, who has openly declared his loyalty to Zanu PF, several senior officers have hit the campaign trail for Zanu PF while others have become immersed in the party's factional fights.

Officer commanding Harare Province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Clement Munoriyarwa, for example, has been urging police officers and their dependants to "vote wisely".

Two weeks ago he addressed officers, their spouses and dependants at Chitungwiza Police Station, advising them to register and vote.

"He was persuasive rather than intimidatory," said a policewoman who attended the meeting.

"If there was any intimidation it was subtle unlike in 2008 when we were told there would be war if Zanu PF lost the elections. He explained that the next election would be crucial and urged all of us to vote because each vote is important.

"He also emphasised the need for those with children to ensure that they register as voters. He said the younger generation should be educated so that they vote wisely and said it was the responsibility of parents to do so."

In Mashonaland East Assistant Commissioner Everisto Pfumvuti, believed to be harbouring political ambitions, has been mentioned in Zanu PF factional fights and has teamed up with a war veteran, Jephat Chinake, in decampaigning Mutoko South legislator Olivia Muchena -- also Women's Affairs minister.

Pfumvuti has ordered all police officers based at Mutoko Police Station to register for elections and show their registration slips to the Officer in Charge as evidence of registration.

Zanu PF Mashonaland East chairman Ray Kaukonde confirmed Pfumvuti has been attending party meetings but said he did not believe he was decampaigning Muchena because "he is a cadre".

Kaukonde said Pfumvuti has been interested in the Mutoko South seat for a while but had been told it was reserved for a woman.

ZRP commanders have also been campaigning for Zanu PF in other provinces, contravening the GPA and constitution which state they should be impartial and professional.

Article X111 of the GPA says: "State organs and institutions do not belong to any political party and should be impartial in the discharge of their duties".

The same article also states that "all state organs and institutions should strictly observe the principles of the rule of law and remain non-partisan and impartial."

The police and other security forces have frequently taken an active role in politics and have often been accused of aiding Zanu PF through disrupting rallies and political gatherings organised by the MDC formations, as well as arresting and intimidating political players and members of civil society.

In the June 2008 presidential election runoff police commanders joined their counterparts from the military in a countrywide campaign where they addressed rallies and meetings promising war in the event that Mugabe lost the runoff.

Junior members of the force were also forced to register for polls and voted under the watchful eye of senior officers.

The stance taken by the police has given rise to fears that the police may once again curtail free political activity in the run up to the elections and fail to guarantee free political activity or guarantee freedom of assembly and association.

Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she had no knowledge of police commanders campaigning for Zanu PF.

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