The story of a team of traffic cops that recently lost their $2 000 bribe loot to a 10-year-old girl along the Harare-Masvingo highway provides more evidence of the rot that pervades our law enforcement system.
What is especially telling about the Beatrice cop-loot drama is the fact that the police now clearly consider bribe-taking as their major source of income and are determined to continue with the graft at all costs.
No amount of deterrent measures will stop them. Not that there are any serious steps taken by the police chiefs who themselves are widely believed to sanction the graft on account of their benefit from it. It is said traffic officers on the roads must remit a certain amount of money daily to their superiors who sit in the offices that assign them the roadblock and highway duties.
So it appears, no matter how much the police chiefs try to convince the public that corruption within the force is being dealt with, the reality on the ground clearly rubbishes such claims. There is no way corruption that is sanctioned at the top can ever be stopped. The few isolated incidences where the anti-corruption unit may stumble on, will remain that – isolated and therefore ineffective to stop the massive rot in the force.
The corruption that we see every day among our police force, especially on the roads, has become so endemic it has become accepted as a way of life. But the truth is that the magnitude of police corruption executed with the level of arrogance and impunity that we see in Zimbabwe is unheard of in other countries.
What now appears a dream to Zimbabweans is the fact that it is actually possible to have a corrupt-free and clean police force which enforces the rule of law without fear, favour or quest for personal gain.
The police force in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi or any other country in the region or even in countries like Nigeria that are believed to be graft-ridden, have become angels by comparison to our own praise-laden force.
In developed countries the level of police corruption that we see in this country can only exist in fairy tales. But then, if such kind of sleaze is regarded strange in countries surrounding our borders, why should Zimbabwe accept such criminality as part of life?
What is worrying is that everybody, including the Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, the Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi and even the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe, are very much aware of the police corruption that has brought shame to our country, making it a laughing stock and stoking economic flames that have brought our country down.
Is it really that these people are unable to stop this decay? If they can’t, on what grounds then should they feel entitled to stay in the offices that they hold?
Or, is it that they indeed secretly sanction this corruption as a way to keep poorly paid civil servants happy and loyal to them? Whatever the case may be, this is very wrong and very bad for the nation. We must be very ashamed of ourselves to accept such national moral decay as a way of life!