Elita Chikwati, Harare Bureau
POLICE Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri yesterday said some of his officers mounting road blocks are corrupt and a number has been dismissed from the force, but blamed motorists for offering bribes instead of paying fines.
He said it was a misconception that the police kept the money properly raised from roadblocks as they deposit it into a bank account administered by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Of late, there has been concern among Zimbabweans at the high number of roadblocks, both in the cities and highways, raising suspicion that the police were out to fleece motorists.
But Comm-Gen Chihuri told legislators from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Peace and Security, and Home Affairs and Security Services on a familiarisation tour of several police projects in Harare that police did not set targets for fines collection at road blocks.
“I cannot deny that some traffic officers are corrupt and it takes two to tango,” said Comm-Gen Chihuri. “In most cases, the drivers are the ones who offer bribes. We have introduced swipe machines, but still some motorists refuse to swipe and prefer paying bribes.
“We have dismissed some officers for engaging in corruption and there are no sacred cows. Anyone caught will be dismissed from the service.”
Comm-Gen Chihuri said the police were faced with inadequate funding.
“We also collect funds through the Judicial Service Commission and we are supposed to get 10 percent of it, but we have not received any money,” he said.
“When we want to buy something, we go to tender. The money is audited by police, Home Affairs and the Auditor General. There is no way the money can be stolen.”
Comm-Gen Chihuri said the money collected at road blocks was insignificant, as compared to the money collected through the Minerals and Border Control unit. Due to lack of funding, Comm-Gen Chihuri said, the force was failing to complete important projects, with some recruits failing to get their salaries for the last six months.
He said he hoped that talks with the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Finance will result in the recruits being paid their salaries soon.
“Police require a lot of money,” he said. “The ZRP got less than $3 million from the fiscus and how can we be expected to work with $3 million? Policing requires a lot of money.
“We are running short of the required uniforms. The police force should have five different uniforms for different occasions, but due to lack of funding we use only one type of uniform for all occasions.”
Comm-Gen Chihuri blamed the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries for some of the woes faced by the force.
“Sanctions are real and playing havoc no matter what other versions people have come up with,” he said. “The economic hardships are a result of the sanctions.
“The condition of service is not so good. Police officers do not have accommodation and have mobility challenges. In 1995, we had 7 000 vehicles, but now we have remained with 2 000 vehicles.”
Parliamentarians expressed concern over the unavailability of adequate funding and the state of the unfinished projects which they said had the potential to cut costs and raise revenue for the force.
In an interview after the tour, Home Affairs and Security Services Committee chairman Cde Oliver Mandipaka (Zanu-PF) said the force had very promising projects which could save Government huge sums of money.
The projects could also generate income if only there was funding to complete them.
“We are concerned with the time taken to complete the projects,” he said. “We are challenging the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to release allocated funds to complete the projects as they are in the interest of the police, Government and the economy.”
Among the incomplete projects are the Criminal Investigations Department headquarters in Harare whose construction started in 1999 and the Public Protection Unit residential flats which have been stalled since construction started five years.
Legislators also visited the Police General Headquarters, the Automated Finger prints identification system unit at Chikurubi and the force’s clothing factories.