THREE deputy police commissioner-generals — Innocent Matibiri, Josephine Shambare and Levi Sibanda — together with two commissioners were on Friday reportedly retired from the force amid indications that the organisation will be instituting a raft of further changes over the next few months.
The removal of Matibiri, a nephew of former President Robert Mugabe, Shambare and Sibanda leaves Stephen Mutamba as the only deputy to Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga.
Their retirement, according to sources, delayed the start of a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Republic Police Staff College last week as Matanga had to engage with his outgoing deputies.
The purge is reportedly targeted at police officers who have reached the age of 50 or have served the force for over 20 years.
“The commissioner-general had to engage with those who were being relieved of their duties and, also, the speeches which had been prepared before the writing of letters were supposed to be changed, as they were no longer part of the programme since they had been retired,” a senior police officer privy to the goings-on in the force said.
“Their retirement letters were with effect from October 31 and it meant that whatever they were going to do afterwards was outside their mandate.”
Since the departure of Mugabe in November last year, the police force and the Central Intelligence Organisation have retired senior officers.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi referred all questions relating to the dismissals of his bosses to Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, whose mobile phone went unanswered.
“Talk to Madam Charamba on that issue,” Nyathi said.
Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema refused to comment on the matter.
“How do I get into a matter you got from your sources? Don’t you trust your sources? Come on, why do you want me to comment since you have been told by your sources? Am I your source? Definitely, I am not your source. Talk to your sources,” Mathema said.
However, other sources within the force said several other top police officers were set to be retired in the coming weeks, as government moves to trim its labour force with a number of ranks — including the Commissioner-General title — set to be abolished.
The title of the police head will revert to Commissioner, cutting on perks and privileges.
“Discussions within government indicate that the current CGP (Commissioner-General of Police) would be posted on a foreign mission, while Mutamba, who was recently promoted from being a Senior Assistant Commissioner to the post of Deputy Commissioner-General, will take over.
Mutamba, besides being a close confidante of the President, his wife and the First Lady are related,” a source said.
Of the commissioners, Nonkosi Ncube was one of the two who were retired. More Senior Assistant Commissioners were on target this week.
Early this year, a mass dismissal of top police officers was launched before a surprise about-turn by government, rehiring most of them less than 24 hours later, in a development which many claimed showed a possible rift within President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Initially, all the now-retired deputy commissioner-generals were dismissed along with commissioners Olga Bungu, Mekia Tanyanyiwa, Grace Ndebele, Charamba, Godfrey Munyonga, Angelina Guvamombe, Justice Chengeta, Robert Masukusa, Eve Mlilo, Grace Maenzanise, Prudence Chakanyuka, Erasmus Makodza, Wiklef Makamache, Edward Fusire and Douglas Nyakutsikwa, but some survived.
A day after, only Munyonga, Chengeta, Nyakutsikwa, Masukusa, Makodza, Chakanyuka, Mlilo, Maenzanise and Taedzerwa were finally shown the exit door.
At the graduation ceremony last week, Matanga claimed that he was delayed as he was briefing his superiors on the state of the police force, amid indications that the general public no longer respected the once-feared officers under Mugabe’s regime.
“The reason why I was late for the ceremony is because I was briefing my superiors, they were asking me why the police were being harassed by the general public. What’s going on?” he said.
“I could not respond to that question. The only thing that I could say was that we should also look at the people themselves and see how they are and how they behave. These days, they are colour blind. When they see a red robot, they just proceed.
“These days, it does not surprise us to see people drinking while driving, getting involved in an accident while on the phone, that is all I could say. The police are the aides of the king, that is why they are given uniforms. If you see yourself arguing with the police or beating up the police, then something is not right.”