Chihuri pulls a ‘no-show’ at parly grilling on misconduct in office
Former Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri failed to appear before a parliamentary panel yesterday which was looking into the illegal deployment of police officers and their ruthless conduct in the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
The parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy postponed the hearing. The panel had summoned Chihuri along with his successor, Godwin Matanga and former Home Affairs minister, Ignatius Chombo but the deposed police boss failed to turn up without giving an explanation.
The committee also wanted the ZRP to clarify whether reports that the police were allocated a diamond concession in Chiadzwa were true.
But both Chombo and Matanga could not respond to questions fielded by the legislators saying they were aware of neither the concession nor the circumstances in which police were deployed to the mine fields.
Matanga asked the committee for time to do a thorough research and bring back accurate information within seven days.
This was after the committee’s chairperson Temba Mliswa asked him to clarify the issue of the ZRP concession.
“I notice that you skipped the issue of the mine, unless if you mean that the police were never empowered with a mine. Are you aware of a diamond mine called Gynyame,” asked Mliswa.
In his response, Matanga said he was not aware of the existence of the mine since he only assumed office recently.
“In as far as I am concerned, I read about Gynyame in the newspapers but for me to give information about Gynyame, I don’t have it. Maybe if my former boss (Chihuri) was here, he could have shed some light on that, but myself, I don’t have information about that,” said the police chief.
But legislators kept probing about the issue and asked him if he was not furnished with police documents when he took over office.
“The police is an institution which keeps records and there should surely be records somewhere unless you are saying this was a personal concession and not a ZRP concession. If it was a ZRP concession, there must be a response to that. We want to know how you mined diamonds and where did you take them to,” Mliswa said.
In response, Matanga said he had not done any research on the mine because it had not been stated in the invitation letter.
“Unfortunately, the Gynyame issue was not in the invitation letter, but now that I know information on it is required, I can go back and make the necessary information so as to bring the necessary information to accurately inform the committee, maybe within seven days,” said Matanga.
Chombo — who brought three lawyers to the committee — declined to answer questions on police deployments.
He said the role of deploying police officers belonged to the ZRP commissioner-general and not the minister of Home Affairs.
“The role of the minister of Home Affairs is clearly stated. The minister’s role is to give the commissioner-general of police general written directions but these directions shall not be inconsistent with those given by the president.
“The one that is responsible for the deployment, supervision of the police that have been deployment anywhere is contained in the Police Act and Section 221 of the
Constitution clearly states that the commissioner-general has role of and sole mandate to superintendent over the affairs and deployment of the police officer.
“As a minister, I was really restricted to policy issues such as the reduction of roadblocks, but how they do it is up to them. So my role was very little other than to convey to the police commissioner who is the superintendent over the affairs of the police,” said Chombo.
Chombo also professed ignorance to the existence of the mine.
The committee then agreed to adjourn the hearing to Friday next week when Matanga would be expected to bring the required information.
The committee also asked Matanga to locate Chihuri and the letter summoning him to the hearing.