Luke Tamborinyoka: It’s time we charged the charge office
By Luke Tamborinyoka
The Charge Office is the police headquarters; the central police station where arrested criminals are taken and charged before they appear in court. Every police station is a charge office unto itself and lays charges on arrested citizens brought to it
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka
It is assumed that those charged with the responsibility of “charging” others are themselves officers of prudent behaviour: with the requisite legal and moral authority to make others accountable.
This treatise will argue that it is the police, those charged with maintaining law and order and those that must dispense prudent governance to the citizens that have themselves been at the centre of questionable behaviour.
In 2007, I spent a whole week of brutal assault and torture —not anywhere else but inside the national police headquarters in Harare. The brutal assaults were meted by none other than uniformed police officers, who accused me and other MDC activists of trying to unseat a lawful government.
I was to spend three months in the D-class section of a maximum security prison on trumped up charges of banditry, insurgency and terrorism. The charges later collapsed like a deck of cards, but there has not been any compensation by the State and the charge office that concocted the charges.
Yes, our daily experiences show that it is the charge office itself that ought to be charged with victimising the innocent citizens it is supposed to protect.
The week-long torture and brutal assault that preceded my three months detention mainly took place in office number 93 of Harare Central Police Station’s Law and Order section.
Many an opposition or civic activist familiar with this grim citadel of terror will tell you it is the most misnamed office in the country where neither law nor order prevail. It is a dastardly hovel where the State sanctions its agents to assault citizens, especially political activists with the sole aim to intimidate and cause injury.
At our appearance in court after the malevolent week-long torture, magistrate Gloria Takundwa referred us to hospital, saying she could not try such visibly angst-ridden citizens in the absence of some medical respite. In fact, the court later sat at the Avenues Clinic on the same day, Saturday March 31, 2007 where we were remanded in hospital and ordered to come back to court on Monday.
But wonders never cease. At midnight of the same day, hordes of central intelligence and police officers barged into hospital, pointed a gun at the sister-in-charge and abducted us from hospital where we had been remanded by a competent court of law. They drove us to Harare Remand Prison where we were dumped, outside the directive of the court.
Brazenly unlawful, but then, who will charge the charge office?
Zimbabweans are currently the subjects of massive inconvenience at roadblocks that now flood our roads — roadblocks that everyone knows to be nothing more than mere outposts of State-sanctioned sleaze.
Roadblocks have simply become permitted zones where the uniformed merchants of terror are permitted to fleece motorists with very serious doubt whether the proceeds are being remitted to the State. Motorists are charged and fined for laughable offences such as tyres not bought from the same manufacturer or malfunctioning number plate lights, even under a scorching August afternoon!
But then, who will charge the charge office?
They want to see your fire extinguisher. The irony is lost on them that the undisputed raging fire in the national economy is enough testimony that the man in charge of the wheel of the State, one President Robert Mugabe, has failed to extinguish the raging inferno. Surely, a probable fire on my car is less hazardous than the current raging flame eating up the national economy. Yet, there is a fixation to charge for potential and not current danger unfolding before our eyes.
Yet Mugabe has no fire extinguisher to deal with this burning train of State!
The fire on this vehicle of State is real yet we, the innocent motorists, are being punished for a danger that could be!
Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri himself is one of the country’s bigwigs that looted the War Victims Compensation Fund. He remains in office even after he helped himself with Z$138 664 of taxpayers’ money after claiming that he was 20% disabled as Zanu PF chefs raided the national purse with reckless abandon.
One Robin Shava, then an employee with the State broadcaster, claimed to be 100% disabled and went away with a cool Z$483 535 of our then strong national currency. Curiously, he was alive and personally collected his loot even as he claimed absolute incapacity (100% disability)!
We hear that this colon cancer of corruption is now being handled directly by the President’s Office, working closely with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to bring culprits to book. The presidency, so we are told, has become the charge office on issues of corruption, with direct interest in what is happening in every nook and cranny in a desperate bid to fight this detestable tendency that has become a chronic national bug!
Well, it is like expecting a mosquito to cure malaria.
Apart from the many corruption scandals where no culprit has been brought to book, Mugabe and his office are still to tell us how they gave a multi-million dollar power contract to Derrick Chikore, the brother of his son-in-law, outside the normal tender process.
Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba is still to repay the over $200 000 he reportedly fleeced from health insurer PSMAS. Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was named in a United Nations report as having plundered diamonds in the Democratic Republic of the Congo while Phelekezela Mphoko is the same man, who a few weeks ago, rescued criminals from Avondale Police Station in the dead of the night.
This is the presidency that has become the charge office expected to sternly deal with the scourge of corruption! This is not to mention the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission itself, whose senior managers and officials have been suspended for corruption and other crimes. Can this kleptocratic charge office charge anyone?
Those charged with national responsibility are themselves the biggest culprits in all sorts of unmitigated mischief that has run the country aground. Unless and until the high priests in government and its agencies are themselves charged, we will not be able to stop this worsening national rot. It is high time we charged the charge offices — the big national offices that are at the centre of this unmitigated national decay but that bare demanding accountability from everyone else!
Luke Tamborinyoka doubles as presidential spokesperson and director of information in the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai. He writes here in his personal capacity. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter