STAFF morale in the Zimbabwe Republic Police has reportedly hit rock-bottom amid allegations that some officers deployed to maintain peace during the constitutional referendum had their allowances slashed.
The affected middle and junior-rank officers have also reportedly petitioned Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri over alleged pampering of traffic police officers with hefty allowances and treating them as “golden geese” while the rest of the force is left to wallow in poverty.
According to internal police documents shown to NewsDay last week, officers assigned to work under the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) during the referendum held on March 16 were entitled to $50 per day for the four days, but they only received a one-off payment of $50 before they were later advised that further payment of $150 had been suspended due to financial constraints.
Payment was suspended following a radio communication dispatched by Senior Assistant Commissioner Lee Muchemwa to all police stations, reference number LOMM 53/13 dated 21/03/13. According to Muchemwa, the payments were stopped due to limited financial resources availed by Treasury.
Part of Muchemwa’s transcript reads: “Payment of the second and final travelling and subsistence allowances for the 2013 referendum exercise is due and imminent. However, due to limited financial resources availed by the Treasury, the organisation is unable to sustain its initial proposal to pay all members irrespective of where they were deployed.
“In this context, only members who were deployed at polling points will be paid the second and final payment which will be $150 per head. Provincial and district commanders are, therefore, urged to support this command.”
Police sources said this was despite Zec releasing the allowances in full, directly to the Police General Headquarters for disbursement to police officers.
One disgruntled officer said: “When duties like this come, every police officer is paid the same allowance regardless of where they are deployed. Those who are left at stations are also paid the same amount because they are left with a larger burden at stations left by those that would have been deployed for the particular assignment, making them equally entitled to whatever allowances accrue.”
Those that were not deployed at polling stations, but were on patrol to maintain peace during the period were also entitled to the payment, he said.
In this case, however, according to the officer, even some of those promised to be paid as per the radio communication had not been paid in full.
In an open letter addressed to Chihuri, a copy of which was availed to NewsDay, police officers who declined to be named said: “Sometime back you (Chihuri) authorised payment of around $1 200 to traffic cops deployed to national highway duties every 21 days. When others complained, you told them they should know the difference between ‘a milk cow’ and ‘a donkey’. Sir, we accepted the donkey status.
“You can afford to spend thousands on (Nissan) Navaras, Ford Rangers and the impending twin-cab Ford Rangers and NP300 when your lieutenants are languishing in poverty. Members of the neighbourhood watch committee and members of the Kwayedza Club, a grouping of police officers’ spouses, benefited ahead of attested police officers. This is not fair.”
Two days of strenuous efforts to get a comment from police spokespersons Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba and her subordinates Superintendent Andrew Phiri and Superintendent Paul Nyathi proved fruitless as they kept promising to respond until the time of going to print last night.