BY VENERANDA LANGA
ZIMBABWE Republic Police Commissioner-General, Godwin Matanga yesterday revealed that the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) was not willing to assist Zimbabwe extradite certain suspects because of fears that their pursuit was politically motivated.
Matanga made the disclosure when he appeared before the Kindness Paradza-chaired Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs together with Home Affairs ministry secretary Melusi Matshiya to give oral evidence on the International Treaties Bill and the dynamics of the Extradition Treaty.
Although Matanga declined to disclose any names, several former Cabinet ministers, among them Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Patrick Zhuwao, Mandiitawepi Chimene and Walter Mzembi are wanted back home for trial after they skipped the country following the November 2017 military coup which ousted the late former President Robert Mugabe to pave way for his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“On the issue of the Extradition Treaty, it is the duty of the ZRP to bring back people who have committed offences, and on a number of occasions we filed notice with Interpol to bring back offenders, but of late Interpol has been suspecting the ZRP of being politically motivated,” Matanga said.
“Interpol has said they will not help and where a person to be arrested is away and is given refugee status,Interpol has said it will not help. If it is a politician that has committed an offence, Interpol looks at how that person is connected politically and they will defend that person.”
As a result, he said the ZRP ended up with no option but to make bilateral arrangements within the region to be assisted to bring back the offenders.
However, the opposition and civic groups accuse the police together with the military of brutality citing the January fuel protests during which an estimated 17 people were killed in a violent crackdown against protestors.
The police are also being accused of partisanship by banning opposition MDC events while allowing those of the ruling Zanu PF to go ahead.
Chirumanzu MP Barbara Rwodzi (Zanu PF) said Matanga should explain why politicians were not being arrested promptly if they committed crimes. She said it was better
for the ZRP to make arrests before the politicians skipped the country.
“In Zimbabwe, our laws protect the President only when he is in office. For the rest of us here — as soon as anyone commits an offence the ZRP will be on you,” Matanga responded.
Matshiya said Interpol and the police in the region should come up with instruments to guide its operations.
“As ZRP, we should also fight these delays in arresting offenders and do what we are supposed to be doing,” Matshiya said.
Acting director for legal affairs in the Foreign Affairs ministry, Stewart Nyakotyo was also grilled over delays by Zimbabwe in ratifying treaties and protocols.
Paradza said there were 36 outstanding treaties that have not been ratified, and among them is the ratification of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) protocol which was signed by Mugabe in 2003 and is still outstanding.
He said failure to sign the PAP protocol cost senator Chief Fortune Charumbira a chance to chair the PAP after Zimbabwe was blocked from chairing because it has not ratified the protocol.