POLICE Commissioner General Godwin Matanga was in our city on Tuesday to roll out his vision as the new police boss since his appointment in February this year.
He met with senior and junior officers at Mutare Main Camp and spelt out his vision to them regarding how he wants the Zimbabwe Republic Police to operate in this new political dispensation.
The meeting began formally with the official keynote address before it evolved into a no-holds barred interface laced with frank discussions and candid talk.
During his address Comm Gen Matanga laid bare several topical issues which he said were critical on how the police should operate in the province.
He touched on a number of things, chief among them, corruption, respect for the constitution, rule of law, impending elections, welfare of police officers and the ongoing restructuring exercise in the ZRP.
High on his agenda was the seemingly unending smuggling of contraband that is happening along the Zimbabwe/Mozambique borderlines.
He fumed at some of his officers whom he said were running smuggling syndicates that are bleeding the economy millions of dollars in lost revenue.
He did not mince his words: “It is on record that smuggling is rife along the stretch of the Zimbabwe/Mozambique borderline which you police. For some time, I have been trying to figure out why this is so; with the collective effort from other stakeholders, why are we failing to make headway in ridding the society of this menace?
“The explanation I am receiving is dumbfounding, to say the least. It is beyond the realms of my imagination that amongst you, there are some who have the nerve to engage in despicable acts to promote smuggling. I am told, some are integral members of syndicates and specialise in facilitating the smuggling of bales of second hand clothing through provision of escort services and others act as the conduits for various contraband.”
Comm Gen Matanga was spot on. It is not a secret that for as long as the police from this part of the country do not play ball and arrest their colleagues who are deeply involved in this racket, smuggling will continue.
Members of the public know the names of cops who are involved in these criminal activities. These culprits are well known and they have since acquired great wealth over the years at the expense of the national fiscus.
What is needed is the will on the part of the provincial leadership to be bold enough and arrest those involved. This is the mindset of the new order if the country is to move forward.
Our police force needs internal cleansing before outside operations against criminals in society can be meaningfully undertaken. The rot is from within.
At this point in time the country needs cops who are dedicated to duty.
Cops who have a high level of duty consciousness; cops who are professional, and truthful.
The fight against corruption within the police force is not an easy one because the vice had become a way of life for some of the officers.
However, what we know for sure is that at the end of the day the battle will be won if those in power walk-the-talk and show no mercy to offenders.
Comm Gen Matanga was frank enough when he said he will not protect criminals within the rank and file of the police force.
In broad day light, 7-tonne lorries full of second hand clothes cross into the country illegally using well known routes that are supposed to be manned. These vehicles travel to Harare, Gweru and Bulawayo with contraband and pass through several police check points with no arrests.
Money is exchanging hands big time. This must stop.
Several registered companies in the clothing industry have closed shop because of this and many workers have been sent home as a result.
It is as clear as day that for as long as smuggling continues with lorries moving freely with contraband passing through various police check points with no arrests, the talk against graft within the force will be mere lip service.
People want to see newspaper headlines of impounded vehicles with second hand clothes and news of disciplinary action taken against cops found on the wrong side of the law.
People want results and, indeed, they should be seen coming.
It’s no longer business as usual.