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Partisan policing stalling youth development
Youth Forum
April 02, 2012

In the latest clear signal that the democratic reform agenda of the inclusive government is well off-track, police in Masvingo province have again barred the Youth Forum from carrying out a road-show that had been penciled for Mupandawana growth-point in Gutu. The road-show is part of the organization's '1 Million New Voters Campaign' aimed at encouraging young people across the country to register as voters so that they are eligible to exercise their right to vote during Zimbabwe's next elections. The cancellation of the event came as a surprise since the organization had fulfilled all other obligations to carry out the event as prescribed by the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA) as well as other unwritten provisions from various quarters including the District Administrator's office.

The person at the centre of these latest attempts to stifle civic activity in the province is one Chief Superintended R. Mubaiwa, the District Police head for Masvingo East region which covers Gutu, Zaka and Bikita districts in Masvingo province. Mubaiwa is fond of calling himself the Regulating Authority for Masvingo East. According to Mubaiwa, civic organizations such as the Youth Forum do not have a mandate to carry out civic education efforts such as the current campaign. He also claimed that he wanted to meet with the Youth Forum leadership to discuss this issue. In this vein, Mubaiwa commandeered the Youth Forum on Wednesday 28 March to drive down for a meeting at his police offices at Bikita Training Centre. The organization was represented by its political and programmes leadership that included Madock Chivasa, the chairperson, Wellington Zindove, the national coordinator as well as Terence Chimhavi the senior programs officer. Instead of concentrating on the matter at hand, Mubaiwa took his time to talk of his in-depth understanding of POSA, while openly boasting that he was learned and had at one time attended school with Professor Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA chairperson at primary school level. He went on to falsely claim that civic education cannot be done through a road-show and resultantly that he was not comfortable with the Youth Forum meeting the community to impart this kind of information. However, this is not true as the organization has full registration with the Zimbabwe Youth Council and is mandated according to the Zimbabwe Youth Council Act to impart civic education of this nature. This is also against the background that the Youth Forum has been doing this kind of civic education, which it views as an integral part of making young people part of the development agenda in Zimbabwe.

The banning of the Gutu road-show comes hot on the heels of another banning of a similar event by police in Masvingo city. The Youth Forum is dismayed by this brazen show of partisan policing by Chief Superintendent Mubaiwa. As the country totters on under the authority of the inclusive government, there are clear signs that democratic reforms will not see the light of day. While many parliamentarians in our august house see the inherent need to amend POSA, there are some in the corridors of power who are hell-bent on seeing this fail. And it is through such political activists like Chief Superintendent Mubaiwa who openly manipulate the law for political gains that we continue to see an authoritarian hand in the work of the inclusive government, particularly where the police is concerned.

What is of concern to the Youth Forum is the manner in which our police force continues to be used by certain political quarters for partisan political ends. What is more disappointing is that it is not very many officers in our police force that are abdicating from their proper duty but a few overzealous political activists such as Mubaiwa who occupy high officers in the police force. The inclusive government ought to exert greater efforts towards depoliticizing state security apparatus so that they discharge their duties more efficiently for the progression of national development.

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