This comes after allegations that Zanu PF used ZRP, Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the Airforce of Zimbabwe who managed the distribution of ballot boxes and papers during its recent primary elections.
In some cases, police officers assumed the role of polling officers, checking cell registers and overseeing the voting process.
In a statement released by acting secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry, Regis Chikowore said: “The president in his capacity as both leader of a political party and head of government wishes to make it abundantly clear to all and sundry that it is neither the policy of Zanu PF nor the direction of government, through him, to deploy the police force or any arm of the security establishment in helping with any party function, least of all as presiding or returning officers in party primary elections.
“Any such instances, which might have occurred in the just-ended party primary election would amount to a breach of Zanu PF policy and certainly a flagrant violation of the laws of the land which must be roundly condemned and stopped forthwith.
“Any officials of the party or officers of the security establishment caught abusing arms and personnel of security as alleged in a story in one of the local dailies will be dealt with severely.”
Political analyst MacDonald Lewanika said while Mnangagwa speaks a good game, it’s clear that one cannot change culture in a day or only through words.
“He is party president and State security functionaries were in use at his parties processes — is he telling us that he is not in control of the party? If he is not in the know or responsible for party programmers as president, then who is in charge of the party and is being intransigent?
“If they are being intransigent, what is he as party leader going to do? I think that more than anything else this is a face saving statement from a president seeking legitimacy and has been caught out and is rebuking because it has been found out and was done brazenly,” said Lewanika.
He said the ZRP on the other hand has always had its hand in the Zanu PF cookie jar and needs to adjust its conduct to a professional and non-partisan one in line with the Constitution.
“In this respect, Mnangagwa is right to censure police involvement but as one of the leading instigators of security sector involvement in civilian politics and a beneficiary of the same, his sincerity is seriously in doubt.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo said Mnangagwa should commission an independent inquiry into the issue which should lead to a report being published with clear recommendations on the need to address the conflation of State and party business.
“Anything else is playing to the public gallery. It should be broader than police inquiry but to include the entire State and how it has been involved in party activities and the opposite. This is a serious issue, which is a fertile ground for corruption and State abusing incumbency to further narrow party interests,” said Moyo.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said Mnangagwa’s rebuke betrays duplicity on his part.
“It’s a hopeless attempt to try and deny the obvious — that Zanu PF has over the years reduced security and other government institutions to Zanu PF political and campaign agents or appellations.
“He was obviously aware of this. His attempts to deny this is trying to maintain or portray a veneer of democracy and independence of State institutions while on the ground he and his government eviscerates their substance. He is just trying to be politically correct,” Saungweme said.
Analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said: “I don’t read much into it. He is a hypocrite. Zanu PF-State conflation is pervasive, spanning all State institutions. He is playing to the international gallery.”
Political analyst Vivid Gwede said there is a noticeable trend in which the talk of the so-called new dispensation is not being matched by its actions.
“The biggest question is if the president as head of State was not aware of police deployment and helicopters in the primaries of the party that he leads, who did it? And if the president can’t guarantee sanity in the primaries of his own party, how confident are we that he can guarantee that there won’t be such malpractices in the harmonised elections?”
Gwede said while the rebuke is welcome if it is genuine, what Zimbabweans want are not rebukes but free, fair and credible elections.
“The nation deserves nothing less and cannot endure another five years of the fall outs of illegitimacy resulting from disputed polls in 2018.”
Media and political analyst Rashweat Mukundu thinks it’s double speak by Mnangagwa as the police chief ultimately reports to him and it’s inconceivable that such a huge deployment of the police would happen without the awareness and authorisation of the president.
“If he was not aware then Zimbabwe is in precarious security situation where the police act under instructions from some other entities.
“This demonstrates that we are heading into an election under a president whose authority is being undermined hence not in control. If Mnangagwa was genuinely not aware of the police deployment then a good response is to fire the police chief,” said Mukundu.
Social commentator Cont Mhlanga said while he likes Mnangagwa’s change and management style so far, “Zanu PF is full of political pretenders who have grounded the country’s economy by mixing up civil service business with Zanu PF party business, police being the worst culprits under Mugabe’s leadership.”
“But Mnangagwa keeps drawing a clear line between internal Zanu PF change and transformation and national change and transformation.
“The nation is eager to see a change of Zanu PF culture and way of doing political business now under Mnangagwa,” he said. DailyNews