Security Sector Raises Red Flag Over Police Amendment Bill
9 September 2021

By A Correspondent- Stakeholders from the security sector have misgivings over provisions of the Police Amendment Bill which seeks to reform the force, according to findings of the joint parliamentary committee on Peace and Security and Defence, Home Affairs and Security.

The Police Amendment Bill seeks to align the Police Act with the Constitution, particularly section 219 which sets out the establishment and functions of the country’s police service and the Police Service Commission in line with regional practices such as in South Africa.

The commission is supposed to play an oversight role of the police service.

However, there is resistance to the Bill from sections of the security sector, according to findings from virtual public hearings on the Bill held on August 4 and attended by various stakeholders, including members of the public.

“While it is necessary to align the Police Act to the Constitution, there were mixed views on interpretation of some provisions of the proposed piece of legislation,” legislator Levi Mayihlome said at the Second Reading of the Bill on Tuesday in Parliament.

“Though acknowledging that this was a progressive and crucial stride, some stakeholders, particularly from the security sector, were of the view that certain provisions, if enacted had detrimental effects on effective policing and ultimately on national security.”

“Others, especially individual members of the public and civic society organisations, applauded the Bill for further responding to the call for the police service to uphold and respect human rights through working together effectively with constitutionally established commissions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, among others.”

The joint committee received written submissions from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and civic society organisations such as legislative watchdog Veritas.

“On the contrary, stakeholders in the security sector, were of the view that the Bill assigned the making of Standing Orders to the PSC when in fact, it was supposed to be the prerogative of the Commissioner-General of Police,” Mayihlome said on submissions to the formulation of Standing Orders.

“They contended that the head of the police service, who is well versed with the day-to-day operations and administration of the organisation, was better placed to deal with issues relating to discipline and orderly conduct of members of the organisation. It was, therefore, proposed that the Commissioner-General of Police be reposed with the power to formulate Standing Orders.”

According to Mayihlome, the committee was in support of the Bill.

“The establishment of the Police Service Commission is in itself a great move in the right direction as it will go a long way in improving service delivery in the sector through its oversight role as well as collaborating and complementing the efforts of other constitutionally established commissions,” Mayihlome said.