Police, due to the nature of their job are expected to put on a human face, shun corruption and lead by example but findings by the Anti-Corruption Trust (ACT) of Southern Africa of worsening levels of corruption within the rank and file of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) make sad reading.
Coupled with observations by the people in their day-to-day engagement with the police, the report did not come as a surprise as it confirmed what was already in the public domain.
According to the report, corruption by ZRP traffic officers was said to be worsening to the extent that culprits were shamelessly demanding bribes in public.
Entitled Stealing from the State and Impoverishing the Nation: Zimbabwean Traffic Police Officers Pocketing Huge Sums of Money through Bribes at Checkpoints — the traffic police, are reported to have become rich overnight acquiring assets that do not tally with their salaries.
Recently, commuter omnibus operators plying the Chitungwiza-City route and those plying the Harare-Norton route parked their vehicles in protest against numerous roadblocks along the way claiming that the police took a huge chunk of their daily takings.
The report only confirms what is in the public domain as it observed that some police officers had accumulated wealth, which they could not account for.
Since civil servants are, according to our law, not supposed to engage in commercial activities, we wonder how they have managed to accumulate the wealth. For years now, civil servants have been complaining about low remuneration but this should not be an excuse for police officers to engage in corrupt activities.
While this trend is worrying, there is no doubt that there are many dedicated and blameless members of the force that continue to serve their country diligently.
We, however, implore the powers-that-be to weed out the corrupt elements in the force as a matter of agency before the whole force is tarnished.
Again, the government should come up with incentives in order to improve their conditions of service as that would dissuade officers from engaging in such acts.
In his mid-term fiscal policy review in July, Finance minister Tendai Biti accused the police of sabotaging government efforts to widen revenue collection by withholding funds they collect on behalf of Treasury.
The police this year upped the number of roadblocks on the country’s highways to collect fines from motorists.
The number of roadblocks across the country has for months enraged Zimbabweans, who are forced to pay spot fines for a range of “offences”.
The issue of corrupt police must be dealt with as a matter of urgency before it spreads to other key sectors of the economy.