By Dr Masimba Mavaza | The Zimbabwe Republic Police is only four months younger than our nation. It is the national police force having succeeded the British South Africa Police on 1 August 1980. The Police are powered by the MOTTO which is in Latin
“Pro lege, pro patria, pro populo” which is translated to mean
“For Law, For Country, For People”
The Police currently is headed by Godwin Matanga the Commissioner-General of Police. The Police force is very professional and like in any other organisations there are some few rogue officers who have tried to tarnish the image of our police force.
The police are the first point of call by both complainants and the accused. So there are always mixed comments about the police depending on who is commenting.
The Police is divided into four main departments and eight branches. These are Administration, Boat Squadron, Canine Section or dog section, Criminal Investigations which has duty meaning uniformed ones and Detectives known as CID, Internal Security and Investigation (PISI),Police Air Wing,Police Support Unit,Riot Squad,Signals Branch,Special Constabulary,Uniformed Branch,Women’s Branch.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police serves to maintain law and order in local areas by protecting members of the public and their property, preventing crime, reducing the fear of crime and improving the quality of life for all citizens. There are a number of different roles within the police and a clearly defined ranking system which can allow for career progression from police constable to Police Commissioner General.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police has trained its officers in many skills which include Communication skills, Team working and independent working skills, Confidence,
Problem solving skills, Sense of personal responsibility.
The ZRP work can be challenging but also has a rewarding career with the chance to make a difference within the community.The work environment is physically demanding, potentially dangerous and at times distressing. In regards to being physically demanding, a Police Officer will need to be physically fit in order to carry out some aspects of the job.
There is a lot of sacrifice in the police force and all is done to deliver peace and maintain law and order.
Over the past three years the police service has operated in a climate of increasing scrutiny of its central purpose, organisational arrangements and effectiveness. This was occasioned by the state the police had fallen in in the last days of the old dispensation.
The new dispensation introduced various aspects of policing. The police saw radical changes in the structure and functioning of policing.
The police work is Very complicated. They do pretty much everything. What the police do in this country is adopted a one-size-fits-all way of dealing with any social problem that hits the streets.
As the history of virtually every police agency attests, policing is an occupation that is rife with opportunities for misconduct. Policing is a highly discretionary, coercive activity that routinely takes place in private settings, out of the sight of supervisors, and in the presence of witnesses who are often regarded as unreliable and obviously biased and aggrieved. Because the police are always in the front line and are the first point of call they are always accused of Corruption,the abuse of police authority for gain and in most cases this is unsubstantiated and it is a type of misconduct that has been particularly problematic.
The truth of the matter is that
corruption in the police primarily is a reflection of the moral defects of individual police officers. The ZRP among other things is fighting corruption by carefully screening applicants for police positions and aggressively pursuing morally defective officers in an attempt to remove them from their positions before their corrupt behaviour had spread through the force.
It should be noted that fighting crime should be the priority for police officers a priority that local communities should share’; keeping the Law and order and peace is what measures the efficiency if the police.
That there should be no confusion among policy makers about the fundamental role of the police. It is therefore of fundamental importance to establish and reinforce in the public mind what the major functions of the police are.
The police work is not measured by the opposition or by those who look it from afar. The attack on the police by civic societies and opposition leaders does not only hurt the police but it gives the country a bad name.
The serious concern is that the result of unfounded accusations on the police force is undermining valuable work by the police and, more important still, it lowers their standing in the eyes of the public.
Despite the controversy that inevitably attends their work, the Zimbabwe police under the Police General commissioner Matanga and his team are enjoying a high level of public regard and trust than before. They remain largely successful in combating crime, retain the principle of the minimum use of force, continue to patrol , have strong local ties and encourage community consultation. The ZRP policing tradition is something of which the country can be proud. Despite how people label the police there are the four main aims of policing which do not change. These are to prevent crime; to pursue and bring to justice those who break the law; to keep the peace; and to protect, help and reassure the community.
ZRP does not abuse Human Rights, it creates a conducive atmosphere for Human Rights upholding and to be seen to do this with integrity, common sense and sound judgement.
The way the Zimbabwean economy is growing now gives an indication of the breadth of police functions and the fundamental contribution made by the police to the maintenance of economic space and a civilised society.
He stated that in the event of a conflict of aims between the maintenance of public tranquillity and enforcement of the law, the former should be the primary responsibility of the police.
It is surely right that on those occasions when the enforcement of the law is not compatible with the maintenance of the public order, it is the maintenance of order which should have priority. In practice, it is for the Police to establish an intelligent balance between prevention, detection and order maintenance. When this is done the opposition cries human rights abuses.
Despite the accusations ZRP has learnt that a service that fails to consult will fail to be efficient. Moreover, the reassertion of any definition of the role and responsibilities of the police should not be seen as an attempt to remove the responsibility which rests on police authorities and, in practical implementation, on ZRP to plan and to use their resources as they judge best, in the knowledge that they must be able to account publicly for their actions. Whilst there will always be certain events such as major public order incidents or murder inquiries that require a particular response, much of what the police do day-to-day requires judgements to be made about how best to use the finite resources that are available.
So there are circumstances where the police have to all out apply gentle force to protect property and to protect lives.
A riotous gathering will never understand a gentle language. Each time people decide to cause havoc in the streets the police have to make life and death decisions.
Each time the country is under attack because of the way the police have handled the riotous mobs it is the latter which complains of heavy handedness of the police but forgetting their heavy handedness on public peace.
Riot control measures are used by law enforcement, military, or security forces to control, disperse, and arrest people who are involved in a riot, demonstration, or protest. These people are hell bent on destruction and their destruction is met with a peaceful whip from the police and they cry foul.
If a riot is spontaneous and irrational, actions which cause people to stop and think for a moment (e.g. loud noises or issuing instructions in a calm tone) can be enough to stop it. However, these methods usually fail when there is severe anger with a legitimate cause, or the riot was planned or organized. Riot control personnel have long used less lethal weapons such as batons and whips to disperse crowds and detain rioters.
Since the 1980s, riot control officers have also used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and electric tasers. In some cases, riot squads may also use Long Range Acoustic Devices, water cannons, armoured fighting vehicles, aerial surveillance, police dogs or mounted police on horses. Persons performing riot control typically wear protective equipment such as riot helmets, face visors, body armour (vests, neck protectors, knee pads, etc.), gas masks and riot shields.
Riot police may be regular police who act in the role of riot police in particular situations or they may be separate units organized within or in parallel to regular police forces. Riot police are used in a variety of different situations and for a variety of different purposes. They may be employed to control riots as their name suggests, to disperse or control crowds, to maintain public order or discourage criminality, or to protect people or property.
Zimbabwe has seen many times people being incited to commit riotous acts to attract a police reaction. Those who incite people to these criminal activities always stay away from the riots but send their people to take photos only of the police intervention. This videos and photos are then spread on social media and sent to their handlers to prove that Zimbabwe is repressive.
This is the way things are human rights abuses are all parked at the police doors. While the police represent peace they are marred with false abuse allegations. If the police stay in their camp and looting goes on they will be accused of complacence. It is very hard to be a police officer.
In this circus the ZRP remain proud to serve “Pro lege, pro patria, pro populo” which is translated to mean
“For Law, For Country, For People”
While all eyes are on the police as human rights abuses are measured the ZRP will continue to serve for law for people and for country.