Security Services and Security Service Commissions

Under the Present Constitution

The disciplined services – the Defence Forces (consisting of the Army and the Air Force), the Police Force and the Prison Service – are the subject of separate parts of the present Constitution.

The Police Force

Part IX deals with the Police Force, the function of which is stated to be to preserve the internal security of and to maintain law and order in Zimbabwe.  The Police Force is under the command of a Commissioner-General, who is appointed by the President.  The details of “the organization, administration and discipline of the Police Force, including the appointment of persons to offices or ranks in the Police Force, their removal from office or reduction in rank, their punishment for breaches of discipline and the fixing of their conditions of service” are provided in the Police Act. 

(1) Command of the Police Force

The Commissioner-General’s term of office is meant to be four years, after which he must retire, irrespective of his age or length of service.  However, “if the President considers that it is desirable in the public interest and the Commissioner is medically fit”, the President may extend the period of his service for periods of not more than twelve months at a time.   The Commissioner-General’s other terms and conditions of service are as fixed by the President from time to time. 

(2) Police Service Commission

A Police Service Commission is established by s 94 of the Constitution.  It consists of –

·        a chairman, who is the chairman of the Public Service Commission, appointed by the President in terms of the Constitution; and

·        not less than two and not more than seven other members, also appointed by the President.

The members must be “be chosen for their ability and experience in administration or their professional qualifications or their suitability otherwise for appointment, and at least 1 such member shall be a person who has held senior rank in the Police Force for periods which in the aggregate amount to at least 5 years”.

The functions of the Commission are “to tender such advice and do such other things in relation to the Police Force as are provided for by this Constitution or by or under an Act of Parliament”.  The Constitution does not define the functions of the Commission any more precisely than that, but the Police Act states the functions are:

·        after consultation with the Commissioner, to make recommendations to the Minister [of Home Affairs] regarding salaries and the general conditions of service of members of the Police Force;

·        to inquire into and deal with complaints, other than complaints relating to disciplinary action by any member;

·        to exercise any other functions that may be imposed or conferred upon the Police Service Commission in terms of this Act or any other enactment.

The Police Service Commission, like all other Commissions established under the Constitution, is supposed to be independent, that is, not subject to the direction or control of anyone; and must exercise its functions without fear, favour or prejudice.  As can be seen, its remit is very limited.  It has no say over the appointment or promotion of police officers.  It can make no decisions or recommendations about how the police force should conduct itself.  It has no disciplinary powers.

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