BOOKS | Augustine Chihuri has written “The History of Policing in Zimbabwe”, but it has no useful history of policing in Zimbabwe

By Tatenda Mashanda

The History of Policing in Zimbabwe by Augustine Chihuri is a disappointing and poorly written book that fails to provide any meaningful insight into the evolution of the police force in the country. Chihuri, the police commissioner for over two decades, presents a biased and self-serving account that blames all his predecessors for his problems and challenges. He argued the ex-combatants who joined the police after independence should have been given automatic promotions and positions of authority based on their political orientation and ideology rather than their training and professionalism.

Contradictions and Inconsistencies

The book is full of contradictions and inconsistencies. Chihuri criticises the colonial legacy and the “old ideological attributes of BSAP” (the British South Africa Police) but then praises his own military and political background as the source of his legitimacy and competence. He also accuses the courts and the police of being influenced by white interests but conveniently ignores the fact that he was appointed as the first non-BSAP police commissioner by a court ruling that involved some white judges. He also claims that he was the only one who could transform the police force into a professional and efficient institution. However, he fails to acknowledge his failures and shortcomings, such as the rampant corruption, incompetence, and brutality that characterized his tenure.

Poor Structure and Organisation

The book is also poorly structured and organised, with uncoordinated themes, details, and tangential emotional rants. The book lacks a clear thesis statement, a logical flow of ideas, and a coherent analysis of the evidence. The author often repeats himself, strays from the main topic, and makes unsubstantiated claims and accusations. The book’s only redeeming feature is the occasional inclusion of valuable archival materials, such as photographs and documents, related to the history of policing in Zimbabwe. However, these are often out of place and irrelevant to the book’s main arguments. The book also starts with a bizarre dedication to the “Father in Heaven, Lord Savior Jesus Christ, and the most important person on earth, the Holy Spirit.”

Attacks on the first black Police Commissioners

One of the book’s most absurd and illogical parts is where Chihuri attacks the first black police commissioners who served after independence: Wiridzayi Nguruve and Henry Mukurazhizha. He describes them as sellouts, BSAP cadres, and Ian Smith’s puppets, who were bent on promoting the interests of the white community at the expense of comrades. Chihuri admires and adores Robert Mugabe for his leadership in the liberation struggle. Still, he fails to acknowledge his wisdom in bringing back professional police officers who had served in the colonial government. He dismisses and disapproves of all the former BSAP black officers who had valuable skills and experience that could have benefited the new police force. Chihuri’s attitude reveals his arrogance and insecurity as he tries to portray himself as the only competent and loyal police commissioner in the history of Zimbabwe.

He claims that under their leadership, nothing changed in the police force, and it was like during the colonial period. He also accuses them of sidelining and frustrating the ex-combatants who joined the police and denying them promotions and opportunities. According to Chihuri, Nguruve and Mukurazhizha’s policies were scattergun, oscillating between chaos and pleasing the white community at a strangely dysfunctional government department.

The History of Policing in Zimbabwe is a disappointing and poorly written book that fails to provide any meaningful insight into the evolution of the police force in the country. The book contains contradictions and inconsistencies, is poorly structured and organized, and is biased and self-serving. The book does not do justice to the complex and fascinating topic it claims to cover, and it is a shame that someone who was at the helm of the police for so long could not produce a more credible and coherent work.

I would not recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the history of policing in Zimbabwe, as it wastes time and money. The book is one of the worst I have ever read, and it should be avoided by anyone who values quality and accuracy.

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Tatenda is a Rhetorician and Zimbabwe political history enthusiast. He can be reached on his Twitter at @tatendamashanda