The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) underwent a major transformation this year as it adopted a new structure and rebranding to rebuild public confidence.
This resulted in the police service embarking on a national re-branding exercise that saw junior and senior officers undergoing refresher training courses.
These courses helped improve crime management, community policing and stewardship. The courses covered crime management, corruption, management of discipline, customer care, briefing and debriefing, public order management, cyber-crime and intellectual crime, community policing, retirement planning, integrated results based management and the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, among others.
Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga is on record as saying members should exhibit the highest standard of discipline and integrity so that their character and actions mirror the new brand which the organisation envisages.
He said criticism and feedback from the public would propel ZRP into offering a world class service. Feedback from members of the public, he said, should be used as a yardstick for reforming and re-engineering their processes to improve service delivery.
Comm-Gen Matanga said the force, just like most modern police organisations, derives its legitimacy from the people, hence its commitment to continuously operate under public scrutiny.
He said in the New Year, ZRP will prioritise dealing with “crimes of concern” such as murder, robberies, rape and unlawful entry.
ZRP launched an anti-corruption specialised unit last year as part of efforts to effectively investigate all corruption cases and this year the unit investigated various cases.
During the tenure of former police Comm-Gen Augustine Chihuri, members of the public did not have confidence in the police as some of the members were corrupt, especially those in the traffic section.
The police service implemented recommendations made by the commission of inquiry into the August 1, 2017 shootings that was chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe.
President Mnangagwa appointed the seven member commission to look into post-election violence that broke out in Harare, resulting in the death of six people.
The commission submitted its report containing recommendations to the President late last year.
The commission’s recommendations include equipping the police with the necessary skills and capacity for dealing with rioters, further training in order to be professional and non-partisan in the interest of national cohesion, the protection of all citizens as well as preventing corporal failings in the future.
Last month, Comm-Gen Matanga said he was impressed with the positive reports that he has been getting over the rebranding refresher courses being undertaken by members.
He said they were ready to implement some of the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission report such as training and equipping the police officers.
However, the Police Service also had a torrid time in dealing with political violence which was mostly instigated by MDC-Alliance between January 14 and 16 this year and another one on August 16.
Evidence gathered by the police has always been showing that all the planned MDC-Alliance demonstrations were violent although the opposition party claimed that they were otherwise.
In January, violence instigated by MDC-Alliance and its associates in the non-governmental sector left a trail of destruction in Harare, Bulawayo and other cities. They also used social media to threaten people who intended to go to work.
Hooligans barricaded roads, burnt cars, stoned schools and beat up teachers. They looted supermarkets, stoned or torched police and private vehicles and buses. They beat up police officers that were trying to ensure law and order.
The most affected towns were Harare, Bulawayo, Chitungwiza and Kadoma.
In Harare, the rowdy elements terrorised high-density suburbs like Epworth, Rugare, Kuwadzana, Highfield, Mbare, Glen Norah and Budiriro.
Others barricaded the Harare-Bulawayo highway near Kuwadzana Extension, where they burnt a bus.
In a clear act of extortion, the protesters, none of them fit to be workers or motorists affected by the fuel price increase, demanded “passage fees” from motorists ranging between $2 and $5.
They also interrogated motorists demanding to know their particulars, where they were going and why.
Some members of the party and affiliate organisations appeared in court for seeking to unleash violent demonstrations, with ring leaders of the civil unrest having received training in the Czech Republic and the Maldives in May.
On August 17, MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa threatened to unleash more violence on the streets after their previous day’s planned demonstrations failed to take off following a prohibition order issued by the police.
The police invoked the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and issued a prohibition notice against the intended demonstration after the regulatory authority gathered intelligence that the demonstrations would degenerate into violence.
The ban was eventually confirmed by the High Court after it dismissed an application by MDC-Alliance challenging the prohibition.
During a Press conference after the confirmation, Mr Chamisa was intransigent vowing that the wave of illegal demonstrations across the country would continue.
There was also a notable increase in armed robbery cases, murder, rape, unlawful entry into premises, car hijackings, stock thefts, cybercrime, wildlife crimes, among other nefarious activities.
An increase in cases involving machete gangs was also noted countrywide with some of them believed to have been linked to politicians who are sponsoring them.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe warned politicians sponsoring machete gangs that the law will be applied on everyone regardless of social standing.
This came as police arrested over 5 000 people within eight months for offences ranging from illegal mining to possession of dangerous weapons.
Addressing a media conference in Harare after a meeting with his deputy, Cde Mike Madiro, police commanders and officials from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Minister Kazembe said the issue of machete gangs was now worrisome and a security threat.
Under an operation dubbed “No To Anarchy by Artisanal Miners”, police since March arrested 3 471 people for possessing dangerous weapons, among them, machetes, while 1 549 illegal artisanal miners were also arrested countrywide.
The biggest number of illegal artisanal miners was arrested in Matabeleland North, with 546 offenders nabbed, while the least number was arrested in Bulawayo where 27 were accounted for.
Midlands had 219 arrests, Harare (200), Mashonaland West (186), Matabeleland South (147), Mashonaland Central (83), Mashonaland East (53), Masvingo (46) and Manicaland (42).
A number of deaths have been reported in mining areas, while rape cases are also said to be on the increase.
Police said the arrest of illegal artisanal miners was an ongoing process and they had identified 260 panning sites countrywide country where they carry out constant raids as some of these areas were now havens of criminal activities like murder, robbery, assaults and rape.
Several armed robbers were also shot and killed during an exchange of fire with the police. Most of them were in the habit of offering people lifts before robbing them while others were raiding homes and business premises looking for cash.
Some land barons were also investigated and arrested by the police after the commission of inquiry into the sale of State land recently submitted its findings from six of the country’s 10 provinces to President Mnangagwa, while alleged cases of fraud and corruption were referred to the police for actioning.
The seven-member Justice Tendai Uchena-led commission was set up in February 2018 to investigate the sale of State land in urban areas since 2005.
There were at least 431 cases of suspected corruption in the sale of State land.
Comm-Gen Matanga recently said Government had put in place legal instruments to bring sanity to the economy and that the ZRP should play a pivotal role in bringing to book all offenders caught on the wrong side of the law.