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By Mwaba Makasa

Introduction

The story of the Southern African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) was told slowly and softly yet with undiluted vigour to over 500 delegates drawn from twelve SARPCCO Member States. The auspicious occasion was none other than the 20th SARPCCO Annual General Meeting (AGM) held from 25th to 28th May, 2015 at Birchwood OR Tambo Centre, Kempton Park, Johannesburg in the Republic of South Africa.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe with his Police Chief Mr. Augustine Chihuri during SARPCCO meeting.The slow and soft spoken Dean of SARPCCO, Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Republican Police (ZRP) Mr. Augustine Chihuri, one of the two surviving and serving Chiefs of Police founder members of the regional organisation, was given the honour to tell the tale. A sharp glimmer blended with a nostalgic faraway look in his eyes suggestive of child-like excitement evidently betrayed his seemingly calm and serious demenour.

Formative Years (Historical Background)

In 1994, an inaugural meeting of Police Chiefs from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region took place at Mananga Training Centre in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Ten (10) founding Member States were present. These are; Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The then Inspector General of Police for Zambia Police Service, Mr. Francis Ndhlovu along with Commissioner General for Zimbabwe Republic Police, Mr. Augustin Chihuri and the National Commissioner for the Royal Swaziland Police Service Mr. Isaac Magagula, who are both still serving in the same capacity, were part of the pioneer police chiefs who met in Swaziland and conceptualised the idea of establishing SARPCCO. Interestingly, former National Commissioner of South African Police, Mr George Faivas was also present at this historical meeting.

In 1995, at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe the same police chiefs met again and crystallised the ideas concerning the establishment of the police organization. At this meeting they named the organization SARPCCO. Heads of Frontline States in the Southern African region also present at this meeting confirmed the name of SARPCCO and adopted it as a Regional Policing body.

 


 

SARPCCO crafted seven objectives which are subject to domestic legislation and international obligations of Member States:

  • To promote, strengthen and perpetuate cooperation and foster joint strategies for the management of all forms of cross-border and related crimes with regional implications 
  • To prepare and disseminate relevant information on criminal activities as may be necessary to benefit members to contain crime in the region. 
  • To carry out regular reviews of joint crime management strategies in view of changing national and regional needs and priorities. 
  • To ensure efficient operation and management of criminal recordsand efficient joint monitoring of cross-border crime taking full advantage of the relevant facilities available through INTERPOL
  • To make relevant recommendations to governments of member countries in relation to matters affecting effective policing in the Southern African region. 
  • To formulate systematic regional training policies and strategies taking into account the need and performance requirements of the regional police services/ forces. 
  • To carry out any such relevant and appropriate acts and strategies for purposes of promoting regional police cooperation and collaborations as regional circumstances dictate.
  • sharpening skills of operatives in the region in crime intelligence and, detection and prevention of crime;
  • successful joint operations on bi-lateral and multi-lateral levels;
  • designing and implementing robust capacity building programmes;
  • setting up of SARPCCO Centre of Excellency; and
  • entrenching gender equity within the rank and file of SARPCCO Member States.
  • Financial constraints thus, certain activities suffer, and
  • Non-harmonisation of laws thus making it difficulty in repatriation of exhibits.

Membership

Later, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius and Seychelles joined the orMs Stella Libongani with her South African counterpartganization as membership grew from the inaugural ten (10) to the current fifteen (15). Thus, the full list of Member States is as follows; Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

SARPCCO Secretariat

The SARPCCO Secretariat was established at the Interpol Sub-Regional Bureau in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1997. The Head of Interpol Regional Bureau also doubles as the SARPCCO Coordinator. A rotational system of leadership at the Regional Bureau has been employed. So far, four (4) countries have provided leadership. These are; Zimbabwe (1997-2001), Botswana (2001-2015), Namibia (2005-2015) and Malawi (2009-2015). The term of the incumbent Head from Malawi, Commissioner of Malawi Police Service, Dr. Chilika Simfukwe is soon ending. Another country will soon take up the position.


 

SARPCCO Technical Organs

Four SARPCCO Technical Organs were constituted. These are: Permanent Security Sub Committee, Training Sub Committee, Legal Sub Committee and the Women’s Network Sub Committee. A consolidated report generated from the meetings of the Technical Organs constituting the afore-mentioned sub committees form the basis of deliberations at the AGM.

SARPCCO AGM

SARPCCO AGM’s are held in the spirit of cooperation. The AGM’s have been consistently held every year since SARPCCO’s establishment in 1995.Twelve Member States, Zambia inclusive, have hosted this activity save for Madagascar, Seychelles and DRC.

SARPCCO Games

In 1996, the first AGM was held in Swapokmund, Namibia. It was at this meeting that the police Chiefs recognized the importance of sport as a unifying factor in the region. In 1999 the inaugural SARPCCO games were held in South Africa. Since then, the games have now become a permanent feature of SARPCCO activities. The games are also held on a rotational basis. So far, six Member States have hosted the games as follows; South Africa (1999, 2001 and 2003) Botswana (2004) Zimbabwe (2007), Malawi (2009), DRC (2011) and Namibia (2013). Swaziland is scheduled to host the 9th edition of the SARPCCO games in Mbabane from July to August, 2015.

Milestones achieved by SARPCCO

In its 20 years of existence, the following successes have been scored:

Major challenges faced

Future of SARPCCO

The future appears to be promising. With the establishment of the SARPCCO Centre of Excellence based at the Interpol/SARPCCO Regional Bureau, Harare, Zimbabwe which was officially opened on 22nd May, 2015, more officers will be exposed to more training and capacity building programmes. Joint operations on bi-lateral and multi-lateral levels are expected to increase. The Intelligence sharing arena will be widened. In effect, regional cooperation as regards crime with regional implications will be significantly strengthened.

Delegates attending SARPCCO meeting(In the middle is Mr Makasa from Zambia)The Author is Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police and Deputy Director-Training, Research & Development.

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