History of ZRP
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The police force was created by Cecil John Rhodes's Pioneers when he was the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony. Since Cecil John Rhodes had accumulated much wealth through Diamond and Gold mining, he decided to invade the land between Limpopo and Zambezi rivers with a view to acquire more wealth. In July 1890, he recruited and trained 200 men, which became the British South Africa Company Police. The ruthless unsympathetic attitude of Rhodes towards the lives of the blacks strongly influenced the historical trend of the police force.
The historic analysis of the occupation of Zimbabwe by the imperialists represented by the ambitious Cecil John Rhodes cannot be complete without talking about the Police. The police by then was called the British South Africa Company Police [BSACP], which was established after the signing of the Rudd Concession and the subsequent granting of the Royal Charter by the British Government in 1889. William Bodle who became the Commissioner in 1903 mooted the idea of the police in 1889. Lieutenant Colonel Penne Father led the Pioneer column into this country in 1890.
The column had over 500 strong policemen who acted as military escort for the settlers. The police was deployed into troop systems that is, Troop up to Troop, while Fredrick Courtney Selous led the advance party. The tenure of Colonel Penne Father lasted until 1892 and Chief Commissioner, Charles White, succeeded him.
EVOLUTION OF THE POLICE FORCE
In 1892, The British South Africa Company Police was disbanded and was replaced by the Mashonaland Mounted Police and Mashonaland Constabulary Units. In fact, the history of the force until 1903 could be divided into epochs with one being a quasi military and the other being a military service which Gibbs  referred to as blood and thunder.
The role of the police during this period was never civil, it was reactive towards blacks but proactive towards whites. By 1895, the police had in its ranks black people who were to be called black watchers [Mabhurakwacha] which literally meant that they were responsible by virtue of them being black, to police their own kith and kin. It eventually assumed derogatory connotations as it emphasised the inferiority with no feelings at all.
AFTERMATHS OF THE FIRST CHIMURENGA
- It revealed the brutality and heavy handedness of the police.
- It showed how divorced the police were from the society especially the black society.
- The blacks were regarded as witches and wizards by whites.
- There was general antagonism and mistrust of the police by the blacks.
- Blacks became subservient to the whims of the colonial police and administration.
- The police induced fear among the blacks
- The police showed their naked preservation of white interests.
Birth of the Zimbabwe Republic Police
Police as one of the instruments of maintaining the blacks in bondage had to be remodelled to suit the needs of the black community. The repressive and tyrannical image of the police had to be changed and tailored to suit the new political dispensation. The leadership of the police was also taken over by the blacks just like what happened in the Army and Air force. The Zimbabwe Republic Police was born in 1980 with the integration of British South Africa Police, Auxiliaries, ZIPRA and ZANLA forces. Initially there was friction among the once opposing groups but as time progressed, the members began to develop a sense of togetherness and camaraderie. Some white BSAP members who could not stomach the issue of being led by the blacks resigned and went to South Africa.
There was an influx of blacks who were promoted to fill vacancies that had been left by the Whites in what became known as Black Advancement. The first black Commissioner of the newly created Zimbabwe Republic Police was Wiridzayi Nguruve in 1982. He led the police up to year 1985 and passed on the baton to Mr Henry Mukurazhizha who was subsequently succeeded by Cde Augustine Chihuri in 1993, until 2017 when he was replaced by Cde T.G Matanga. The new breed of police officers therefore had to gear themselves up to transform the image of the police, for the better. With that idea in mind, in 1984, the police introduced the police community relations programme that was tailored to suit the needs and aspirations of the community.
This was triggered by the then Prime Minister in 1984 of Zimbabwe; Cde. Robert Mugabe when he delivered a keynote address at a passout parade in Morris Depot on the need to incorporate the civil society in the policing process where he said:
“We must underscore the point that effective policing must derive from and flourish on the goodwill and co-operation from the masses from whom any police force derives its legitimacy. The police must strive to educate the masses so that they identify the objectives and functions of the police as their own, in turn the public aspirations and problems are also their own"Â.
This statement marked a watershed for the complete transformation of the police to a people-oriented one. It was about seeking the needs of the community and being responsive in delivery of services, hence the introduction of the programme of policing by consent rather than policing by coercion. A circular was issued in May, 1986 that created the skeletal infrastructure and framework for the implementation of the community relations scheme.
COMMUNITY RELATIONS SCHEME
There was construction of pillars of mutuality between the police and the public. There was social interaction between the police and public. Consequently, the community participated actively in the policing of their respective areas. The police transformed the negative attitudes and misconceptions that hindered and distorted lines of communication. In this thrust, the police became the community and the community became the police as envisaged by German (1960) who consider the police and the public as an organic unit and work as partners to fight crime. The programme went a long way to repair the fractured relations between the police and the public (Focus 2000).
In conjunction with the introduction of the community relations scheme which saw the birth of the Neighbourhood Watch Committees, Junior call programmes and vigilantes, the police developed new initiatives to accommodate the aspirations of the community in areas of service delivery, human rights, new policing philosophies. In the process, a culture of planning was incepted and has taken root. This new dispensation ushered by the then Commissioner General of Police, Cde Augustine Chihuri, saw the introduction of the Strategic Plans, Tactical Plans, Service Plans and the Service Charter.
The police developed new standards; as well as systems and procedures tailored to accommodate the entire human resource base in the organisation and develop levels of decision making at Provincial, District and Station levels and a process of democratisation of the organisation. The transformation saw the creation of new departments in the police like the Information Systems and Information Technology. The strategic links with other organisations enabled the police to fulfill its constitutional obligations. The police formalised its links with the International Police and the Regional Interpol branch, which is housed in Zimbabwe. Such credit goes to the then Commissioner General of Police, Cde Augustine Chihuri through the launch in 1995 of the inaugural Strategic Plan; Focus 2000.
The Police has also embarked on fulfilling the dictates of the New Economic Programme ushered in by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe through crafting of the Economic Revival Programme Strategy Strategic Plan Vision whose main thrust was to arrest all corrupt activities that are causing economic hemorrhage in the country.