‘Heavy police presence inhibits tourism growth’

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HEAVY police presence on major highways has created a perception that Zimbabwe “is a police State,” a development that is not friendly for visiting tourists, a local think-tank said at the weekend.

Report by Victoria Mtomba

In a discussion paper entitled Positioning Zimbabwe Tourism Sector for Growth: Issues and Challenges, the Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis Research Unit (Zeparu) last week said numerous police roadblocks mounted along the country’s highways were raising unnecessary alarm.

One of the researchers, University of Zimbabwe lecturer Shephered Nyaruwata, said on a recent journey the research team witnessed 20 police roadblocks between Harare and Victoria Falls.

“On major roads, police roadblocks average one per every 20km and one wonders why, and for what purpose,” Nyaruwata said while presenting the findings of the report.

“Although, we were not stopped at all these points the situation is not the same with tourist driving foreign-registered cars. This is mainly because some of the requirements they are looking for from motorist may be different. The feedback we received from some tour operators and hoteliers regarding tourist pestering at police roadblocks were not encouraging at all.

“The perception is that roadblocks portray the country as a police State. The police are regarded as highly corrupt and unfriendly to foreign tourists, ” noted Zeparu in its research.Tourism receipts have increased from $61 million in 2003 to $662 million in 2011 largely as a result of the return of foreign visitors to Zimbabwe over the period under review following a decade long turmoil.
The sector is this year expected to grow by 4% driven by hotels and restaurant growth.

In his 2013 National Budget presentation, Finance minister Tendai Biti said perceptions of a police state as reflected through endless and meaningless road blocks were breeding all kinds of vice.

According to the report, the Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway had more roadblocks than other highways, followed by Masvingo-Mutare highway that had 18.

Compounding challenges facing the sector, Zeparu said, was the lack of co-ordination among government ministries interfacing with the Tourism ministry, among them, Home Affairs, Natural Resources and
Environment, Finance and Education.

“The stakeholders noted that lack of co-ordination has resulted in the private sectors being charged multiplicity of levies by different government departments to a point where it was becoming impossible for business to make reasonable returns
on the investments,” Zeparu added.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Hope something positive will come out of this. Drove from SA to Vic Falls through Botswana sometime ago. There are numerous road blocks on Zim roads and police are always ready to pounce on foreign registered vehicles. The rules seem to change frequently and police seem to rejoice whenever they find that are not compliant with a new requirement e.g. Reflective jacket, fire extinguisher etc. Also they seem to be hung up on having paper reflectors on the car when modern vehicles come with built in ones. Hope that this will result in a more tourist friendly driving experience both for locals and foreigners.

  2. Handisi spamer. Ndati, Heavy Police presence is a sign that yu ar safe from criminals. If è Police doesn’t deploy its details, criminals will feast. Again Min Biti, & his partners in è incl gvt allowed Police 2 fine traffic offenders 2 raise cash 4 è zrp’s day 2 day running since the gvt had failed 2 finance è zrp. Chete.

    • perfect spammer.road blocks are nt the best way to deal with criminals after all they are at fixed points making them easy to avoid. The best is to patrol the highway.

  3. I am not a spammer. I am only trying to put the record straight. Its not what everything the police-men do that has Chihuri’s endorsement. I know that for a fact.

  4. While you may have a point on the other hand it is very neccessary for police to be out on the roads in full force during holidays like this so that in the event of accidents they are not too far away. Speeding idiots will also exercise caution when they know the cops are out and about.
    Tourists should actually feel safe with police presence on the roads, this waqy they will not be robbed, no hijackings on the highways etc.
    In this case i have seen a lot of positives of police presence on the roads. One negative is that the rotten few will be out for bribes and these are the very same ones who spoil the name for the good cops. there are some good cops out there. Well done ZRP you are trying your best.
    Police commissioner please do not have any mercy on the police who bribe the public.

    • uri brenda chairo…..if you drive you wouldnt post such trash. Cops are in the roads to make money. Only a minority do not take bribes.If an accident occurs its the ambulance that has to arrive first to save lives , not the cops. Brenda, shandisa musoro zvakanaka kwete kuwanza madhiredhi.

  5. They fill the roads with police, and accidents still happen every day, and thieves and thugs have a field day! The police are there to milk US$ from the travelling public.

    I would not even bother driving around the country because it is so frustrating and time-wasting.

    They are a huge hindrance to travelling especially for foreigners who are viewed in a political light, forgetting there is a business side to their visits; that’s what tourism is about! It is as if they feel Zimbabwe is theirs’, and no one should come to see it!

    How blind.

  6. Handisi spammer let me air my views. The police are not there to protect ppl from thieves. They are the the thieves. They sit down to try come up with something that motorists do not have and cash in.

  7. Police must be on the roads always for speeding/driving dogs and also forign vehicles sometimes are driven into Zim without necessary papers ie insurance and permits which are a must when u take your vehicle across to SA. Zeparu’s research is just a desk research full of assumptions, for starters, it is not feasible (human resource wise) for ZRP to mount even 2 men roadblocks along Hre Byo Vic Falls road at 20km intervals. Madhuku/late Makumbe will call the research and its findings “nonsensical”.

    • The truth be told and accepted. Why now we used to drive these roads free from these unwarranted police blocks. Now its necessary because of? I will tell your ATMS

  8. But why paper reflectors in this day and age as if we are driving zvikochikari? Every village bhrukwacha just takes to the road and sets up a roadblock nowadays. And they ask “Tipeiwo T.I.P. ne licence, neextinguisher ne vest” 20 times on a 400km stretch. Whats that for? They are in fact contributing to the road carnage by getting the drivers so fatigued with all those ridiculous stops. Is there anyone in charge of the police at all?

  9. I am not a spammer, police presence on the roads is not necessary and has never reduced accidents so what are they doing, fixing roads has reduced accidents but police have aided accidents by making drivers drive under emotional pressure from these zealots.

  10. Thula, have you ever crossed a border or even swim across any. You might only find same level of roadblocks in Afghanistan maybe, but again those would be military roadblocks…

  11. There is only one way to deal with roadblocks lets introduce budget airlines between harare-bulawayo-gweru-masvingo and mutare. This is the solution to a corrupt roadnetwork system.

    • People who argue that excessive police presence on our roads is good for reducing accidents are either benefiting corrupt officers themselves or they are not drivers.People are not proposing that there be no police on the roads but its the number of these road block which is now frustrating motorists causing unnecessary delays causing accidents when motorists try to make up for lost time through speeding.Many transport operators may lose concentration on the roads once all their day earnings have been fleeced by the many corrupt officers on our roads.One road block per town is more than enough ? Why should one be subjected to similar searches of the same items several times between two towns ?

      • Taura hako Jakachaka. SepaChitungwiza apa uchipinda muHarare, zvakaoma. Fuel newear and tear they are causing to our vehicles is just too much. Hazvina public interest at heart.

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