Reforms of any kind, including those of the police, as offered to a country’s law enforcers some years ago, remain a necessary and ongoing policy objective for many developing countries. These reforms are being done to overhaul institutions’ administrative system, to better serve the needs of both government and citizenry. This is why Africans celebrate each time their police forces undergo reforms, so as to be in sync with other democracies when delivering services.
But despite all this, there are still high police brutality incidences being reported in some nations such as Malawi and Zimbabwe. This is clear evidence that the much talked about reformation was just another talk show.
The latest police exhibition of undemocratic behaviour in Zimbabwe was experienced during the #ThisFlag movement demonstrations that took place in Zimbabwe. A video of police ruthlessly beating women went viral. In Malawi police invaded and brutally disciplined a strike held by Chancellor college students, meant to express their discontent at the hyper inflated fees being paid at the state owned University of Malawi (UNIMA) institutions across the nation. Police officers were filmed beating up unarmed and harmless female students. And they did not stop there, as they went as far as beating up some visually impaired as well as physically disabled students who didn’t even take part in the protest.
There is no justification in the book of law for police officers to relentlessly continue shooting tear gas canisters into study halls(rooms) at the peril of innocent students. When the police seek to suppress protests of unarmed students by unleashing incommensurate force on them to torture, maim or kill, it concedes a weakness.
We therefore join various human rights and disability organizations across Africa, in condemning the police for their barbaric act. We also urge the police to strictly operate and act within their legal authority and desist from use of force, which leads to the violation of the rights of which they are sworn to protect.
Our police must not continue to be oblivious to the fact that we are in a democracy where dissenting views are inevitable. It is high time our police were really reformed.