Clashes over Chihuri appointment intensify

While Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara said the principals agreed Chihuri was now working in an acting capacity until the principals decided on his future, President Mugabe insists the issue is resolved because his contract was extended to 2014.

 

In separate interviews with the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday, Mutambara and Tsvangirai on the one hand maintained that the principals agreed on Wednesday that Chihuri would remain in office as acting police Commissioner-General until his regularisation by the Police Service Commission (PSC), while Mugabe through his spokesman George Charamba said the reappointment was done on the recommendation of the PSC, which he said was operational.

Charamba said: “That (Chihuri’s contract) is not an issue anymore because his contract was renewed. You can’t have a service chief staying a day longer than his contract says he should. How then does he take instructions from the President if he has no contract? His contract was renewed when it was due.”

Asked to confirm that the contract was renewed to 2014, Charamba said: “Yes, 2014 it would be.”

Contrary to assertions by Tsvangirai and Mutambara that the PSC needed to be regularised first before a new Commissioner-General was appointed, Charamba said the commission was operational and “everyone in that commission is alive”.

“There is a commission that is in place and that commission made recommendations. There is no service chief who stays a day longer without a contract, so that was not an issue when the president met the prime minister and his deputy,” he said.

“What was at issue was the plea by the prime minister and his deputy for inclusion, so that in the eyes of their constituencies they are respected. That was resolved; the President is a politician and understood their position,” added Charamba.

However, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka dismissed Charamba’s pronouncement as “utter rubbish”. Said Tamborinyika: “I don’t know which sewage Mr Charamba is fishing that position from.To the best of our knowledge, the term of office of the police commissioner-general expired on the 31st of January. The position of the prime minister is now a public record.They agreed on the necessary processes which must be followed, which processes will eventuate in an agreement between the President and the Prime Minister, which is the constitutional position.”

Tamborinyoka added: “In any case, the Police Service Commission is not properly regularised. The principals agreed that that must be done first. Two out of three principals articulated the position of the principals at a press conference yesterday. Mr Charamba is at complete variance with common sense and the principals’ position.”

Mutambara concurred, saying: “We stick to the content of our press conference yesterday (Wednesday).We have documented records of our meeting of principals done by the Chief Secretary to Cabinet (Dr Mischeck Sibanda).”

However, Charamba differed: “They were, however, told clearly that the law does not require the president to consult (them) when renewing contracts but he understood that they want to be informed out of courtesy. So all the service chiefs including  Chihuri have contracts. It is not an issue.” 

If he is reappointed, this will be the 14th time that Chihuri’s contract has been renewed since his first term expired in 1997. Chihuri took over as acting commissioner from Henry Mukurazhizha in 1991 before assuming the position on a full time basis in 1993.

Chihuri and Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga’s terms expired at the end of last month, while Prisons Services Commissioner retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi, Air Force commander Air Marshal Perance Shiri and Zimbabwe National Army commander Lieutenant-General Philip Sibanda’s tenures are due to expire at the end of February.

At the joint press conference on Wednesday Tsvangirai said: “I don’t know what your information is, but the commissioner-General of police cannot be appointed without the regularisation of the Police Service Commission, which has not been constituted.”

The commission’s term is said to have expired in December. The PSC handles the police commissioner-general’s contractual matters, although the appointment is from the president in consultation with the prime minister.

Tsvangirai said: “If there is no position, there is an acting person and Chihuri is there in an acting capacity until we finalise the process. All these discussions are serious and let’s hope in 2012 will set a new tone as we go for elections.”