Police are yet to make any arrests several days after mainstream opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s convoy was attacked by a Zanu PF mob in what should be the clearest indication yet that the rule of law remains elusive in Zimbabwe.
The barbaric attacks on the cars carrying Chamisa’s security aides during his tour of Masvingo last week were captured on camera and in some instances police officers watched as the Zanu PF supporters ran amok.
In one of the videos that are circulating widely on social media, suspected Zanu PF thugs are seen abusing MDC Alliance officials, including a councillor and a senator, who are forced to denounce Chamisa.
Zanu PF commissar Patrick Chamisa even tried to justify the attacks by claiming that the MDC Alliance leader wanted to address villagers that did not want to hear from him.
The events in Masvingo were simply unacceptable in a country that purports to be a democracy.
They pointed to a police force that is still steeped in partisan politics.
After taking over power from strongman Robert Mugabe, who was toppled in a military coup in 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged to professionalise the police force that sometimes acted as an organ of the ruling party.
Political violence was allowed to fester in previous elections because police had become partisan and this came at a huge cost for Zimbabwe, which was reduced to a pariah state.
The behaviour of the Masvingo police, who in some instances were accused of hostility towards Chamisa’s delegation, was a red flag ahead of the 2023 elections.
It was an indication that those affiliated to Zanu PF still consider themselves to be above the law and are treated as such by the law enforcers.
Police are expected to enforce the law without fear or favour.
When the law enforcement agency starts showing bias towards a certain political party, citizens will lose confidence in the institution.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police should launch a thorough investigation into the conduct of its officers in Masvingo if it still wants to be taken seriously.
Perpetrators of the violence must also be brought to book to send a clear message that Zimbabwe does not tolerate lawlessness.
Anything short of a transparent investigation and prosecution of the political misfits will be a stain on Zimbabwe’s democracy and will further cement views that Mnangagwa was never genuine about his reforms pledge.
Democracy means that political party leaders must be free to move and meet their supporters throughout the country without being molested by rivals while police officers are watching on the sidelines.