The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs had denied that there is rampant corruption within the Zimbabwe Republic Police and listed a number of measures that he said were aimed at ensuring that corruption is minimised.
Among these were that anyone could report to the police public relations department which he said was vibrant and active and was open 24 hours a day.
He also said police officers were required as a matter of principle at roadblocks to stop motorists and deal with drivers in full view of the passengers.
“We do not allow the driver to park his car and go to a secluded place to deal with our police officers,” Ziyambi said in response to questions from Mutasa South legislator Irene Zindi.
“The second measure that we have is having unannounced and random spot checks by district, provincial and national commanders. I am sure you are aware that we have scenarios where police officers have been caught and have committed suicide when they were found with money which they could not account for.
“The other measure that we have is the declaration of cash and endorsement in official books by members when reporting on duty and also on reporting off duty. So, all our police officers who will be on duty at roadblocks have to declare and leave the cash that they will have and we also have other police officers following up and doing spot checks.”
Members of Parliament have argued that police officers cannot police themselves and have recommended that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission be given arresting powers so that it can arrest corrupt police officers.
Q & A:
MS. ZINDI asked the Minister of Home Affairs to give options to reduce the rampant corruption at road blocks.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (MR. ZIYAMBI): Firstly, I would like to say, I do not know what the member refers to by rampant corruption at roadblocks.
Secondly, I want to say that our police have a very vibrant and active Public Relations Department which continuously updates members of the public on activities they will be undertaking. I am sure if we become very attentive to what they are saying, it will be helpful for us to understand the activities of the police.
Having said that, I would like to say that police officers are required as a matter of principle at roadblocks, to stop motorists and deal with the drivers in full view of the passengers. We do not allow the driver to park his car and go to a secluded place to deal with our police officers.
The second measure that we have is having unannounced and random spot checks by district, provincial and national commanders. I am sure you are aware that we have scenarios where police officers have been caught and have committed suicide when they were found with money which they could not account for.
The other measure that we have is the declaration of cash and endorsement in official books by members when reporting on duty and also on reporting off duty. So, all our police officers who will be on duty at roadblocks have to declare and leave the cash that they will have and we also have other police officers following up and doing spot checks.
Further measures also include comprehensive awareness campaigns through the media and other public fora to discourage members of the public from conniving with police officers who engage in corrupt acts, since some of them see paying bribes as a way of evading justice after committing offences.
Another additional measure that we took was to implore owners of commuter omnibuses to employ drivers of the stipulated age groups.
We have also engaged the commuter omnibus owners to ensure that their vehicles have the requisite papers. I am sure hon. members are aware of the incident of an unlicenced driver who was involved in an accident a few days ago. Our police officers engage the owners to ensure that they comply with the regulations of the law that stipulates that a driver has to be 25 years and above.
Lastly, I would like to say that ZRP is a transparent organisation and members of the public are urged to report any corrupt acts to Police Commanders as outlined in the Police Service Charter. The reports can be made to the local Officer in Charge, Officer Commanding District, and Officer Commanding Province or even to the Police Commissioner General. The ZRP has a national complaints desk and the hotline number is 703631 which is manned 24hours on a daily basis.
MS. ZINDI: Mr. Speaker, through you, I stand guided. If the Minister says he does not understand what I meant by rampant, If I may explain and pose the question again to the Minister. I meant that – as much as I appreciate in his response that whenever a motorist has been stopped, whatever discussion takes place should be done in full view of passengers. That is not what is happening on the streets as we speak now and that is rampant corruption.
Further, there are running battles of police officers on bicycles at night with ladies who are just walking along the streets or intending to go into a night club or into a bar. They just run after them because they will have suspected them of soliciting for sex. How do the police officers suspect a woman or two women walking into a bar for soliciting for sex? That is rampant corruption because of the way the police reach their determination. It actually happened to my daughter when she was walking from my bar going home. She was chained and to me, that is rampant corruption because when the police officers are paid, they let the women go free. Does the Minister know this is what is happening?
MR. ZIYAMBI: The hon. member repeated what I said and that was one of the measures that we take when our police officers are at roadblocks, that they have to deal with drivers in full view of members of the public.
The hon. member then went on to define what she meant by rampant corruption and she described a scenario where ladies are chased by the police at night. I would like to say that our police officers are well trained to detect crime. However, that does not mean that if there are elements of abuse, it then translates to corruption. If I do not carry out my duty properly and arrest an innocent person, it does not translate to corruption. So, in my earlier remarks, I acknowledged that we have several measures that we have put in place to ensure that whatever happens at a roadblock, it is done transparently and we try to minimize corruption. However, we also have to say that the design of our cities and roads and the traffic that we have at the moment, we now have increased levels of traffic. We are in the process of coming up with an integrated traffic management system so that we curb some of these issues that happened. Because of the increased traffic flow, you cannot expect mishaps not to happen. I thank you.
MR. MUTSEYAMI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary question to the hon. Deputy Minister is with regard to the responsibility that the police gives to the public along the highways. Is it in terms of the statutes or the laws of this country that the police officers would mann roadblocks without putting signs to notify the road users that there is a roadblock ahead? Is it in terms of law, especially along the highways and blind rises? Thank you.
MR. ZIYAMBI: I would like to thank the hon. member for that question. Firstly, I want to say that roadblocks are done for several purposes. There are times when it is necessary not to put a sign because of the nature of the roadblock. If there is a speed trap, you cannot forewarn the driver that there are police ahead. If you are doing a security check or you have received a report of a security matter, you do not need to forewarn the driver. So, roadblocks are done for several purposes and it is the prerogative of the police to mount a roadblock depending on the nature of the roadblock of whatever they are looking for. They do not have to be restricted to say that you should put a sign always. I thank you.
MS. ZINDI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. We appreciate the duty being undertaken by our police force but as a follow up to the nature that has been explained, depending on the nature necessitating that kind of a roadblock. Is it the same matter of the kind of roadblocks where there are no signs being erected for example, the Harare-Mutare highway, you can come across 10-15 roadblocks and all of them with no sign posts to indicate that there will be a roadblock ahead of you. Last week, I counted them, they were 15, can the Minister respond? Thank you.
MR. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to thank the hon. member for that question. I would like to say that the police mount roadblocks depending on reports they receive and whatever they will be looking for in order to ensure effective policing. So, it will not be competent for me to answer the question of the 10 or so roadblocks that she counted but what I know is that we have very good police commanders who mount appropriate roadblocks depending on the situation obtaining on the ground. I thank you.