Vehicle number plates shortages: A fertile ground for corruption


editorial comment

THE confusion regarding the police blitz on unregistered vehicles at a time the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) is admitting that it does not have adequate material to process new plates for vehicles on its waiting list is enough evidence of deep-seated confusion in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.

Yes, government’s concern that unregistered vehicles were being used to commit crimes might be genuine, but imposing a blanket ban on use of unregistered vehicles, including those with temporary plates and proof of payment for permanent plates, betrays policy consistency on the part of government departments.

It’s a question of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is holding.

CVR registrar George Makoni on Monday told a parliamentary delegation on a fact-finding mission at his offices that they had a backlog of around 57 000 vehicles that needed number plates, but could not service them due to financial challenges which Treasury was quite aware of.

It is sad how government gave the police the directive to impound unregistered vehicles when the country does not have the capacity to meet the existing demand for number plates.

Ideally, government should have inspected the CVR and have an appreciation of the situation before ordering a clampdown on unregistered vehicles.

The wholesale seizure of unregistered vehicles has not only increased the demand for the number plates, but chaos at CVR offices as well as created a fertile ground for corruption.

Government should only have demanded that cars imported before, say December 2019, should all be registered and those without will be impounded.

This could have created less demand for the plates and allowed government to produce more, without inconveniencing the motorists.

It is painful that motorists are spending precious time in queues for number plates, foregoing other productive duties, waiting for number plates that are not available.

To make things worse, the plates are outrageously priced at US$80, for a product produced at a cost of US$22 at most.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport, chaired by Shamva North MP Oscar Gorerino (Zanu-PF) should not only demand that government allows use of temporary plates until the number plates are available.

Parliament should also summon Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to explain why the number plates are being charged exorbitantly and what the money raised is being used for.

Government should not unnecessarily punish citizens because of its policy inconsistencies.