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Make spot fine payable via mobile money transfer

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If we are serious about curbing corruption in Zimbabwe as many high-profile figures have reiterated over the years, then it’s time we honestly gave technology a chance to police the police before the cancer completely runs the nation down.

By TechnoMag

The Zimbabwean government should simply enact a law that makes it illegal to pay fines via cash, but legalise mobile money transfer as the only way to pay for fines, when one admits he has committed the alleged crime.

So long as there is willpower to curb corruption, for accountability and transparency, a measure which even the State coffers can directly benefit from this solution.

In a landmark statement recently pronounced by a High Court Judge, Justice Francis Bere, clearly stating that the continuous collection of spot fines by the national traffic police officers has no legal framework, it called for premature celebration while the reality on ground is still a sorry state.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) quickly pulled a press statement defending their position on fine collection downplaying the judge’s statement as nothing but his personal opinion, stating the same legal piece empowers them, meaning we have an interpretation issue
In as much as we still do have professional police officers in Zimbabwe, it is no newsflash that the rotten apples especially within the traffic section have not only cost the nation millions, but also caused direct and indirect loss of innocent lives!

It has become so obvious that most police officers manning roadblocks are only motivated to be on duty because the gains of the patrol are much more significant that the sweat of the day, as they are perpetually motivated to withstand the scorching sun or freezing temperature of the day.

The High Court judge said: “I fully understand the predicament the Home Affairs ministry finds itself in, but it occurs to me that currently there is no legal framework justifying the manner in which these collections are being done.

“There is no law which compels a motorist to deposit a fine with the police if he desires to challenge the alleged offence, but it looks like the motorists are being forced to pay these fines on our public roads irrespective of their attitude to the charges.
“Any attempt to refuse to pay is met by threats to have the vehicle impounded by the police.’’

Of course, the ZRP statement did not bother to explain on this behaviour as it has been used as their major trump card.

Whenever one is stopped for being on the other side of the law by the traffic officers, there is an ulterior motive to make sure that someone pays a spot fine and any questioning is met with outright ruthlessness forcing many to quickly give in to the punitive fines.

This has become the norm with police officers creating daily trap zones where they cash in from unsuspecting motorists mostly those who hit ambers along the Samora Machel Avenue and Leopold Takawira Street intersection, Samora and Prince Edward Street intersection and the infamous Sunday crew the along Prince Edward and Robert Mugabe Road intersection.

To add more to these irregular issues, Justice Bere said police were “cursed” if it was true that the force was superintending the co-ordinated collection of “security fees” to give commuter omnibus drivers free passage at roadblocks.

“Quite often, one hears of more illegal collections which are being made by the police,” he said.

“There is talk of well co-ordinated collections of security fees on our public roads, particularly from commuter omnibuses, which fees are meant to give commuter crews free and unhindered passage at police roadblocks.

“If this is true, then the department (police) is surely cursed.
How can a nation continue to condone such malpractices which create a breeding ground for corrupt tendencies?

What the nation should have asked rather was the accountability of all these spot fines.

Why are the officers so quick to write a ticket upon stopping you if at all they were not corrupt then there was no need for them to write the ticket, but rather ask for cheaper bailouts through unaccountable bribes?

The alarming truth could be that the police officers account for their own receipts.

It’s most likely that they are armed with fake receipt books or should they even use the ones allocated to them, none of these funds reach the State coffers!

Their statement says: “When a person is fined on the road, an admission of guilt receipt is given which is taken for confirmation before the court and this is used to account for the money at CBZ Bank to the satisfaction of not only Treasury but Comptroller and Auditor –General.”

Is that so? This is what should be bothering the nation more than anything else. Who is accounting for these funds and how are the rogue officers benefiting even after serving the purported traffic law offender with a receipt? This remains a mystery!

Interestingly Justice Bere openly admitted that these funds are not reaching the coffers when he said:

“The Section (356 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Chapter 9:07) compels the police to forthwith transmit all the documentation to do with the payment of spot fines to the court for confirmation by a magistrate.

“All these provisions of the law are being flouted, with everyone watching helplessly whilst this illegality continues.

“There may be no problems with the police operating as an extension of Treasury, but if that is what is desired, then the legal framework must be put in place to support such kind of development.’’

Ironic! But should we continue to create talks about corruption without offering simple solutions to this national disaster?
Today we are now using mobile money transfer services like Ecocash, Telecash and One Wallet.

These systems are so secure and robust that if we are serious about cutting corruption, then we should start by making these the only legal ways to pay for fines.

A new statute should be passed that only makes paying of fines legal via mobile money transfer services and any cash transactions should automatically be known to be a corrupt activity!

Every legal roadblock or police station can truly afford to be furnished by an Ecocash, Telecash and a One Wallet agent, a move which the national mobile operators are also willing to support since it’s more business to them.

Of course, issues of charges can then be discussed to see how much the mobile networks can retain after a payment has been made via their platform for admission of guilty.

This hopefully will clear the mist on how our so much-needed fines are being accounted for.

This is the only panacea if we are serious about stamping out corruption.

To the newly-appointed commander of national traffic, Senior Assistant Commissioner Felie Mujanga, the onus is upon you to bring change within your first 100 or so days, as we strongly believe your new broom deserves a chance.

I beg to agree with the learned Judge here, there is no better way to conclude my hearty feelings than to quote his exact statements.
“We talk of determination for the need to rid this country of corruption.

“How can we achieve this when we allow our police officers to conduct themselves in such a corrupt manner? My view is that all these issues must be seriously looked at and corrective action be taken without further delay.”

TechnoMag is Zimbabwe‚s Premier Technology Magazine. More in depth from http://www.technomag.co.zw/?p=19792 and follow us on Twitter @TechnoMagZw and join us on ww.facebook.com/technomagzw

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