PARLIAMENT has castigated government for reducing members of the police force to “beggars”, claiming that the law enforcement agents were now subsidising government in discharging their duties as their department was grossly underfunded.
BY MOSES MATENGA
This was revealed in a report on the 2021 National Budget which was presented last week in the National Assembly by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs led by Umzingwane MP Levi Mayihlome (Zanu PF) in contribution to debate on the Finance Bill.
Mayihlome said as a result of underfunding, corruption was rife.
The committee also alleged that police officers were going to the extent of begging for food from communities to make ends meet.
The Home Affairs ministry was allocated $23,6 billion in the 2021 National Budget, but the committee said $312,6 billion would have been ideal.
“Travelling and subsistence (T and S) allowances for the police was last paid in 2008 or thereabouts,” Mayihlome said.
“Individual policemen and women are, therefore, subsidising the government programmes, as they use their own money to travel and feed themselves while carrying out official work, to complete investigations, hence the tendency to feed from the community,” he said.The committee, however, said the police needed to be well-taken care of and equipped for them to function effectively.
“It is no wonder, therefore, that cases of illegal mining, traffic offences and illegal border crossing continue to increase because of poor equipment and poor conditions of service. Police must be efficient, effective, swift and courteous. This can only happen if they are equipped, looked after and well-trained.”
Parliament also heard that “inescapable expenditure items in the Home Affairs ministry were underfunded and there was inadequate budget for uniforms and ceremonial dress for the police.
“Rations, T and S allowances for the ministry and fuel, oils and lubricants, (were also grossly underfunded),” he said.
The committee also noted that there was inadequate funding for the police for on research, training and development for the officers to be kept abreast with modern technology.
Mayihlome also said that there was lack of, if any funding at all, for personal protective equipment (PPE) for the police for COVID-19.
“(On) PPE in light of COVID-19 pandemic, even schools are requesting police to enforce regulations. How does one deploy officers to enforce COVID-19 rules when the same police officers are not compliant?”
Last week, the same committee also revealed that the army was struggling, which has affected morale.