Freeman Razemba, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday warned traffic police against engaging in corruption at roadblocks and challenged them to improve their education.
Speaking at Morris Depot in Harare at a passout parade of 593 graduands, the President advised the cops to be upright in the execution of their duties.
“I am told, while performing your duty, lots of temptation will visit you, especially police officers manning roadblocks. Such temptation, I am reliably informed, is blind to gender or age and is not regional or tribalistic. Be warned!” he said.
President Mugabe called for unity as the country heads towards the harmonised elections next year.
“As we prepare for the harmonised elections, I urge all Zimbabweans to remain united in upholding peace. We should not present our detractors with an opportunity to discredit our own internal democratic processes. I am confident that police will be up to the task as they help to maintain peace and order,” he said.
President Mugabe also challenged the police to improve themselves through study.
“Improve yourself in the police organisation through study and research. Aim high so as not to be one of those who are heard boasting, ‘. . . I have 20 years’ experience as a constable’. Uphold Zimbabwe’s reputation of being the most literate country in Africa,” he said.
President Mugabe urged the graduates to be loyal and committed to duty.
“As police officers, you have a duty to maintain, indeed contribute, to the excellent brand the ZRP has made over the years. In addition, it is incumbent upon you to broaden the scope of law and order in the country. You should regard yourselves as beacons and embodiments of high morality,” he said.
Of the 593 graduands, 340 were men while 253 were women.
“I believe this large contingent comprising 340 men and 253 women police recruits is an indication of our resolve to combat the increasingly alarming incidence of crime in our country. With time we would ultimately like to attain a comfortable and manageable police-population ratio, where one police officer is to serve a certain number of people.
“But our war against crime cannot be solely premised on the mass production of police officers. It is absolutely necessary to improve the quality of our police training. Such training should be so thorough as to prevail over the not only sophisticated but versatile modern day criminal. Police training seeks to develop a curriculum that prepares the police officers to face challenges in the course of duty,” he said.
Yesterday’s graduates underwent a one year training programme instead of the usual six months.
Under the new training programme, recruits are attached to different police stations countrywide before they return to the depot to complete their training.
President Mugabe applauded the teaching of local and sign languages.
“Certainly, this constitutional requirement is not only cardinal for the creation of an inclusive society but emboldens police effectiveness, through the creation of strong community relations. A versatile police officer should be able to speak any local language and therefore should also find it fairly easy to work with and within the local environment,” he said.
The President advised the graduates to be wary of some elements in the force who might lead them astray.
“I also ask you to take note and be wary of the old stock who are ready to lead you astray. You should be prepared to meet those of them who are always complaining of this or that as they often choose to speak of the worst side of the police force or their superiors in general. Ask yourself as to why, if the police work is so bad, as they say, they still continue to be in the police force? Sift and sieve what you see and hear,” he said.
The ceremony was attended by Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mhpoko, Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo and Police Commissioner-General Dr Augustine Chihuri, among other dignitaries.