PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe (pictured), two weeks ago, reportedly ordered the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to reduce the number of roadblocks, saying they were becoming an inconvenience to motorists and the travelling public.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Home Affairs deputy minister Obedingwa Mguni made the revelations in Parliament yesterday.
“Two weeks ago, President Mugabe chaired a meeting that resolved that roadblocks must be reduced,” Mguni said.
“Therefore, we made a plan to reduce them, but we said it is not easy to balance quality service versus compliance because we need not loosen our security when giving services.”
This comes a week after Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo to urgently engage his Tourism counterpart, Walter Mzembi to consider scaling down on roadblocks following complaints from tourists.
Mguni said the police now needed gadgets to assist them check for defective vehicles, speeding drivers and other traffic offences so that motorists are not delayed at roadblocks.
This comes as the ZRP has accused some of its former members of tarnishing its image by setting up illegal roadblocks and fleecing unsuspecting motorists of their money.
Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba told a Press briefing in the capital that some disgruntled expelled members of the ZRP were masquerading as officers and setting up illegal roadblocks and at times using spikes to fleece motorists.
“We are, however, investigating the exact nature, composition and scope of this criminal group,” she said.
“We are fully aware of the machinations of some of the unscrupulous elements, who have formed a fifth column that masquerades as police.
“Very soon, we will be able to establish whose agenda they are driving and, in particular, the brains behind their illicit operations.”
So far, the ZRP said, four bogus officers had been arrested and one had already been convicted while three others were yet to appear before the courts.
Charamba said motorists should always ask for police officers’ identity cards at roadblocks whenever in doubt and even inquire from the nearest police station the authenticity of any roadblock they would suspect to be illegal.
“In this regard, we seek to remain responsive and proactive particularly in today’s criminal world that has become exceedingly complex and requires the employment of diverse proactive measures of crime prevention,” she said.
In Parliament, Warren Park legislator, Elias Mudzuri said the police must comply with a High Court order, which compels them to issue tickets to motorists without ready cash for spot fines.
“We have opposed it (challenged the ruling) because we want a system that does not intrude on our security. If anything ruled in court compromises on our security, we have a right to oppose it,” Mguni said.
“Registration of vehicles in Zimbabwe needs to be computerised because most people are stopped at roadblocks only for the police to find they have no drivers’ licences, are driving vehicles which are not theirs, and if they do not immediately pay a spot fine, it is difficult to trace them.”
Mguni said the ZRP had deployed 500 swipe machines throughout the country to facilitate payment of spot fines at roadblocks.