Addressing junior officers from a trip to liberation struggle shrines in Mozambique, Chihuri said it was of “paramount importance” for the officers to have a “deeper, accurate, comprehensive understanding of the history of the country, particularly its tortuous journey to Independence”, adding that they should vote wisely in next year’s polls.
Then came the sucker punch: “This country came through blood and the barrel of the gun and it can never be re-colonised through a simple pen, which costs as little as five cents.”
Such brinkmanship and reckless statements from the top cop should be taken seriously given that Chihuri was one of the service chiefs who a few years ago vowed never to salute anyone, even if they won free and fair elections, if they did not have war credentials.
These hardliners have no respect for the ballot and it has been alleged and never denied that they were behind the bloody June 2008 presidential election run-off campaign, which the MDC-T asserted claimed about 200 lives of its supporters. Thousands were injured and displaced.
What is instructive about Chihuri’s utterances is if the polls go ahead next year they should produce one result — victory for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. Any other result would not be acceptable to Chihuri and those of his ilk because the “country came through blood and the barrel of the gun”.
Does the top cop want to turn this country into a police state? In Chihuri’s opaque world, voting out his master Mugabe through a five-cent pen is tantamount to re-colonisation. This is cheap social engineering with no takers. Nobody today wants to be locked in the sterile mantras of the past. Today’s generation wants the opportunities their counterparts in the region and abroad enjoy.
At this critical time in our country, we do not need such kinds of retrogressive elements. People like Chihuri, who occupy high office in the security sector and dabble in politics, have two options — stick to their constitutional mandate or quit.
The Police Act is very clear on political meddling. He should not sacrifice the law on the altar of a self-serving political agenda.
By urging junior officers to vote wisely, judging by his previous remarks he meant that they should vote for Mugabe and Zanu PF. This is unacceptable in a democracy. The force should not operate like a militia. They should not operate like an attack dog of a particular party.
Chihuri’s utterances exhibited the need for security reforms that would see those who want to dabble in politics leave the sector to concentrate on politics. We also need reforms to restore professionalism in the police, army and the intelligence service. Service chiefs, generals and senior officers who cannot remain apolitical should be eased out of the security sector.
The commissioner-general should know better than most that a police state is repressive. He is a veteran of our liberation struggle and I strongly believe that he took up arms to fight against a police state. Why is he now agitating for that state he fought to dismantle? His utterances portray the country as lawless and with no respect for constitutional order.
Chihuri should grasp how that discredits the force and the country.