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Equip police to do their job well

Editorials
Riot Police Officers in Mbare

HOME Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe told us this week that crime, particularly armed robbery, in Zimbabwe had now reached colossal levels that it is bordering on being a real national security threat and is scaring away potential foreign investors.

Addressing senior police officers in Harare on Wednesday, Kazembe said: “It is sad that cases of armed robbery have continued to be committed even in broad daylight. Criminals continue to target individuals and organisations with large sums of foreign currency. This derails government efforts to lure foreign direct investment as this projects the country as an unsafe investment destination.”

While we totally agree that the crime wave in this country has reached unacceptable levels, we are, however, saddened that all we hear is empty anger over the escalating crime, especially armed robberies some of which are involving retired and serving members of both the police and army.

As we see it — and please kindly pardon us if we err in our opinion — Kazembe as Home Affairs minister and all his colleagues in government have not been serious enough in curbing this scourge and are largely paying lip service to the security crisis facing the country.

If truth be told, they have been speaking with forked tongues on this issue for a long time because, for example, the senior police officers Kazembe was whining to about the high crime rate are presiding over a workforce that is poorly paid and working with the most ancient equipment that shames a modern police force.

If basics such as vehicles are procured, you see them being driven by senior officers — maybe because they too have rickety allocations that embarrass them given their positions — and none of them get to the lower ranks where they are needed most to swiftly react to crime incidents.

If essential equipment such as breathalysers — which long left police station lockers — modern computers and surveillance gadgets are not part of police station kits, one wonders how on earth our police officers on the ground are expected to combat sophisticated criminals such as armed robbers when they lack the simplest tools of trade.

All we are saying to Kazembe and his colleagues in government is that they must first demonstrate the will to combat crime in the country by at least equipping our police force with the basic tools needed in combating crime.

Over and above all this government needs to make sure that our police officers, many of whom we suspect go to work hungry, are well remunerated for them to be in good spirits to fight crime.

Kazembe and his colleagues may shout themselves hoarse about the high crime rate in the country, but this will never help the situation as long as the police force is not geared to do its duty.

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