Under-fire Zimbabwean President pledges to smoke-out criminals

Emmerson Mnangagwa

THE Government will swoop on all corrupt and criminal elements in society despite some of them adopting modern and sophisticated ways of trying to evade arrest and milk the country’s resources, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.

The President made these remarks during a colourful ceremony where outgoing Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Commissioner-General, Major-General (Retired) Paradzai Zimondi was handing over the reins to new Commissioner-General Moses Cyril Ngawaite Chihobvu after 23 years at the helm.

The ceremony was held at the ZPCS Ntabazinduna Training Depot just outside Bulawayo. Comm-Gen Chihobvu had been acting Commissioner-General since Maj-Gen (Rtd) Zimondi went on three months pre-retirement leave in July.

In his address, President Mnangagwa reiterated his call against corruption revealing that the Government will not take a back seat until all criminals are brought to book. He emphasised the need for the country’s security sector to adapt to the times by upgrading their skills, noting that criminals were also employing modern techniques to evade the law and milk the country’s resources.

“I would like to discourage all those who would want to undertake criminal activities, crime does not pay and the long arm of the law will always catch up with you. Under the Second Republic, justice will be pursued without fear or favour. Criminals must never be fooled; they will reap what they sow.

“In view of the increasingly sophisticated nature of criminal activities and the changing profile of offenders, I challenge correctional officers to constantly upgrade their skills to better execute their roles and duties. Be wary of daring offenders who are even prepared to corrupt law officers. Refuse to be corrupted,” said the President.

He particularly implored ZPCS officers to remain vigilant, noting that as correctional officers they were tasked with looking after law breakers hence if they themselves were found to be on the wrong side of the law, justice will take its course.

“My Government has zero tolerance to corruption. As part of our country’s security services, I therefore urge you all to remain disciplined, to be transparent and professional when conducting your duties at all times. Your personal and work conduct should always be beyond reproach. Always act with the national interest in mind and never in a manner prejudicial to our country. The law will take its course on anyone found wanting,” said President Mnangagwa.

Turning to Maj-Gen (Rtd) Zimondi, President Mnangagwa paid tribute to his service to the country and Government, saying that during his tenure as ZPCS Commissioner-General he was at the forefront of transforming it from the Zimbabwe Prisons Services to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services.

The President commended the retiring Commissioner-General for championing gender balance within the rank and file of the ZPCS such that women were promoted to senior ranks inclusive of Deputy Commissioner-General level.

During his reign, Maj-Gen (Rtd) Zimondi also spearheaded the introduction of a female open prison, which is under construction in Marondera, which is the first of its kind within the Sadc region.

“As the Commissioner-General of the ZPCS, Maj-Gen Zimondi was responsible for providing leadership and guidance in the modernisation of our prisons and correctional management system. He rose to the occasion, transforming and reforming the prison system whose foundation was a discriminative and exclusion based colonial system. General Zimondi spearheaded agriculture production and productivity within our correctional facilities towards effective offender rehabilitation and reintegration. I exhort officers to emulate his legacy of innovative thinking and proactive approaches to prison management concepts,” said President Mnangagwa.

The President further encouraged Comm-General Chihobvu to take over from where Maj-Gen (Rtd) Zimondi left off, continuing with the reform programmes inspired by the National Vision 2030. He said there was a need to modernise the training curriculum of correctional officers in line with global best practice noting that the role of correctional services was a key cog in the maintenance of the rule of law.

“All prison farms must be productive, producing food and imparting life skills to inmates. In line with our value of achieving development through our own resources, I encourage you to pursue construction projects to improve, upgrade and increase the general infrastructure in our correctional facilities. ZPCS must play its part in our quest for an improved quality of life of all our people no matter their circumstances,” said President Mnangagwa.

In his retirement speech, Maj-Gen (Rtd) Zimondi paid gratitude to all institutions that had supported him during his tenure noting that without their support his term in office would not have been a successful one. He further reiterated President Mnangagwa’s call against corruption noting that the success of the ZPCS was especially hinged on corrupt free officers.

“Corruption continues to wreak havoc in our communities, institutions and the nation at large. I urge correctional officers to shun corruption at all costs by standing steadfast in performing your duties with integrity, transparency and accountability, professionalism and discipline,” he said.

Maj-Gen (Rtd) Zimondi said while he was retiring, he would, however, remain available to provide advice, support and guidance whenever required. In accepting his appointment as the substantiative ZPSC head, Comm-Gen Chihobvu thanked President Mnangagwa for the trust he had shown in him and further paid gratitude to Maj-Gen (Rtd) Zimondi for his guidance over the years. He said with the foundation and backbone that had been laid by Maj-Gen (Rtd) Zimondi he would continue with the identified destination of ensuring that the ZPCS becomes the leading correctional service provider in the region and beyond by 2030.

“In order to pursue our goals, we must be creative and innovative, as well as looking into the future whilst safeguarding the goals brought about by those who served and sacrificed their lives before us. Remember, making mistakes during the implementation of initiatives is a learning curve but repeating the same mistake is a sign of incompetence and inability to learn and adjust,” said Comm-Gen Chihobvu.

Comm-Gen Chihobvu becomes the second ZPCS commissioner general after the introduction of the rank in 2013. Also present at the ceremony were Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Matabeleland North Province, Richard Moyo, Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Bulawayo Province, udith Ncube, Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Matabeleland South Province, Abednico Ncube, senior Government officials, members of the ZPSC, services chiefs and traditional leaders led by the president of the Chiefs Council, Chief Senator Fortune Charumbira. – Sunday News