By Patrick Chitumba
Police officers yesterday celebrated after Commissioner General Godwin Matanga abolished the mandatory purchase of raffle tickets towards the traditional Commissioner General Funfair and Horse Race.
Officers have over the years complained about the added financial burden on their salaries after they were forced to buy numerous tickets for events and other causes they said benefitted senior officials.
Even court challenges failed to make former police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri relent on the issue.
Addressing senior officers from the Midlands province at ZRP Gweru main camp hall, Comm Gen Matanga said while the tickets were being sold for a worthy cause, no one would be forced to buy them.
“I wish to remind you that our organisation has an important corporate social responsibility to contribute, although in a small way, towards the welfare of widows and orphans of our departed colleagues and other deserving members of the public.
“Against this background, I wish to take this opportunity to inform you that raffle tickets for our traditional Commissioner General Funfair and Horse race will continue to be offered for sale. However, the tickets will be sold at a very low price and will be sold to willing buyers only. No-one will be coerced to buy any of the tickets on offer,” he said.
Junior officers celebrated as the news spread through the province.
Last year, a disgruntled Bulawayo-based junior cop Constable Shepherd Marufu took the then Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo and retired Police Commissioner-General Chihuri to court for allegedly forcing him to “unlawfully” contribute part of his monthly salary towards funding projects that allegedly benefitted his bosses.
In papers before the Bulawayo High Court, Cst Marufu said they were also forced to buy and sell raffle tickets for $30 each three times a year.
Comm Gen Matanga however, appealed to the police officers to find it in their hearts to contribute to a worthy cause.
“My appeal to you is, when the tickets are finally availed, let us find it in our hearts to buy a few knowing pretty well that one day, your own contribution will put a smile on the face of one of the less fortunate people out there,” he said.
Comm Gen Matanga applauded the Government’s stance on zero tolerance to political violence and tirelessly preaching the need for the country to hold free, fair, credible and transparent elections.
“By equal measure, we also express our profound gratitude to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission for their apparent effort towards promoting national peace by facilitating the presidential candidates to commit themselves and their respective political parties to a peaceful campaign ahead of the plebiscites through the signing of a high level peace pledge,” he said.
Peace has to prevail before, during and after the July 30 harmonised elections and police presence must be felt everywhere and every time in the country.
“I wish to reiterate that you are all duty bound to create an environment that is conducive to the holding of free, fair, peaceful, credible and transparent elections in this province.
“The knowledge and experience we have gained over the years in managing election periods must be used to professionally discharge our duty in order for our beloved country, Zimbabwe, to hold free, fair, transparent, peaceful and credible elections,” said Comm Gen Matanga.
He said as the sole law enforcement agency, the police force was expected to put up the toughest fight against corruption.
Comm Gen Matanga said promotion for senior police officers was on the way following the recent promotion of 1 632 junior officers.
“Senior officers will be promoted soon. I know you are anxious about this but as soon as the full list of promoted officers is ready, it would be made public,” he said. The Chronicle