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‘Zimbabwe fast becoming a police State’

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ANALYSTS have described the increasing number of police roadblocks along major highways as counterproductive as it depicted a country in serious crisis which affected its international image.

BY MOSES MATENGA

This came out during a public forum organised by AMH Conversations in Harare yesterday to discuss the impact of roadblocks on civil liberties and productivity.

The meeting was attended by ordinary citizens, academics, local and international tourists, lawyers and representatives of civic society organisations.

Speakers, who included academic Ibbo Mandaza and Combined Harare Residents’ Association director Mfundo Mlilo, among others, described Zimbabwe as a police State given the visibility of the officers all over while questioning their conduct on roadblocks.

“Judging from what is happening, Zimbabwe has become a police State. I come across six roadblocks to work. In some countries, you don’t encounter police in the same way like you do in Zimbabwe unless there is a disaster,” Mlilo said.

“We are concerned that police now behave like judges on the roads. We are concerned about the lack of transparency. If you stop a motorist and say she/he should pay $80, where does someone get that money? People don’t have money to pay on the spot.”

Mandaza said people should know their rights, pointing out that spot fines at roadblocks was against the law.

“Police should be educated on the Constitution and its provisions. We need accountability on the roads. Where is the money going to?” he queried.

He said that it was sad that the visibility and behaviour of police on Zimbabwe’s roads was similar to the behaviour of police during the colonial era.

“This is now a securocrats’ State, when people rule without the people. You don’t have to have people behind you, you just rule. We were shocked in (Finance minister Patrick) Chinamasa’s National Budget, that public service is now 500 000 and taking 87% of the budget. We have an average of 15 police officers on the tollgates, what for? Do we need that? Is it a fair charge on the fiscus?” Mandaza queried.

Other speakers said the behaviour of police on the roads was a danger to themselves and other road users.

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