By Lloyd Mbiba
HARARE – Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri last week escaped discussion on his future after a National Security Council (NSC) meeting slated for last Friday failed to take place because Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was not feeling well.
Tsvangirai had planned to use the NSC meeting to confront coalition government partner President Robert Mugabe over Chihuri’s continued stay in office after the expiry of his contract last week.
The NSC brings together army commanders and coalition government leaders to provide a platform for discussion on security matters. Jameson Timba, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office said the NSC meeting did not take place because the prime minister is still nursing an injury.
“The meeting did not take place because the prime minister was not feeling well. He has a broken ankle. This means the next meeting will take place in March,” said Timba.
However, sources close to the matter say Tsvangirai is bracing to take up the matter with Mugabe at their Monday meetings and is preparing to take the matter to Sadc as Mugabe is likely to refuse to heed calls from his coalition partners not to renew Chihuri’s contract.
According to the power sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA), Mugabe should consult coalition government partners before making senior appointments.
Mugabe’s camp insists that only the president has the prerogative to appoint or fire security sector commanders such as Chihuri, thereby setting the stage for an explosive confrontation as Tsvangirai refuses to acknowledge Chihuri’s legitimacy.
Chihuri’s tenure is one of several issues that Sadc is grappling to have Zimbabwe’s coalition government partners agree to. Sadc is mediating in Zimbabwe’s long-drawn political crisis.
Tsvangirai and his MDC party’s stance on Chihuri’s future is that he should leave after the expiry of his contract on February 1 because the police commissioner has shown high levels of partisanship.
Luke Tamborinyoka, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, said as far as they were concerned Chihuri was no longer the police commissioner and he should stop going to work.
“As far as the prime minister is concerned, Chihuri is no longer the police commissioner because his term expired. This simply means that we will wait for Mugabe to consult the PM for a replacement.
“There are so many people within the force who could lead the country’s police force with distinction,” said Tamborinyoka.
The MDC’s position in on-going Sadc supervised talks on a roadmap to the country’s election specifically makes demands that the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Constantine Chiwenga and Chihuri must be retired.
The party also wants Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, who has threatened to arrest journalists writing about Chihuri’s expired contract, to leave and make way for a more professional person.
These demands, coupled with a raft of other displeasures such as the militarisation of the country’s politics, are likely to remain on the table. It was highly expected that Chihuri’s contract renewal was going to be high on the agenda of the NSC meeting.
Welshman Ncube, another coalition partner, says Chihuri is holding onto the office illegally but Mugabe is unlikely to dump him as demanded by the coalition partners.
“It is unexpected for Mugabe to consult. He has not consulted us for the past three years, he has been appointing permanent secretaries and ambassadors without the input of other principals,” said Ncube.
He said Mugabe might opt to unilaterally reappoint Chihuri, adding his MDC party would take the fight to Mugabe’s doorstep in defence of the power sharing GPA guaranteed by Sadc and African Union.
According to Section 6 of the Police Act, the Commissioner-General’s term of office expires at the end of four years.
Thereafter, the Commissioner-General may be re-appointed by extending his period of service for 12 months at the end of which in the absence of the letter of appointment extending his services, he ceases to be Commissioner-General of police.
Chihuri became the country’s top cop in 1991. Since then he has been at loggerheads with civil society and MDC officials who accuse him of discharging his duties in a partisan manner. Daily News
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