Bad ap­ples soil­ing ZRP im­age

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

WE are wor­ried about a grow­ing trend of in­dis­ci­pline within the Zim­babwe Repub­lic Po­lice and cau­tion that un­less this can­cer is brought to an abrupt end, our po­lice force is doomed. Our con­cern stems from a pro­lif­er­a­tion of re­ports of un­be­com­ing be­hav­iour ex­hib­ited by some mem­bers of the ZRP who are soil­ing the im­age and rep­u­ta­tion of our men and women in uni­form. Al­ready, the po­lice are fac­ing in­creas­ing hos­til­ity from mem­bers of the pub­lic due to a grow­ing per­cep­tion out there that they’re the “en­emy” but we con­tend that this is due to the con­duct of a few rogue el­e­ments.

The ZRP has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing one of the most ef­fi­cient and dis­ci­plined forces on the African con­ti­nent and this has even been ac­knowl­edged by the United Na­tions which con­tin­ues to en­list its ser­vices in peace keep­ing mis­sions in Africa and other hotspots in the world.

Its client ser­vice char­ter says it is a peo­ple­ori­ented po­lice ser­vice provider that seeks to main­tain law and order to­wards the so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the peo­ple. The ZRP also has a lofty vi­sion of be­ing the best po­lice ser­vice provider by 2020. We sup­port this vi­sion and are proud of its record hence our plea to the po­lice hi­er­ar­chy to rein in er­rant cops who con­tinue to make head­lines for the wrong rea­sons.

Cor­rup­tion is a serious na­tional prob­lem but when it’s per­pe­trated by the very same peo­ple who are sup­posed to en­force the coun­try’s laws and main­tain law and order, then the war is lost even be­fore it’s be­gun. We ac­knowl­edge and wel­come the de­ci­sion by po­lice com­man­ders to re­duce the num­ber of road­blocks in the coun­try fol­low­ing a fierce pub­lic out­cry over their pro­lif­er­a­tion. This was a mas­ter­stroke move and one which res­onated with the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in Zim­babwe be­cause the road­blocks had be­come a men­ace as they were be­ing used by rogue cops to ex­tort money from mo­torists.

How­ever, de­spite this bril­liant de­ci­sion, re­ports con­tinue to fil­ter through of po­lice of­fi­cers caught on the wrong side of the law. Re­cently, the Deputy Min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs, Cde Obe­d­ingwa Mguni, lit­er­ally took mat­ters into his own hands when he ap­pre­hended black mar­ket fuel dealers who had passed through a num­ber of road­blocks be­tween Plumtree and Bulawayo with their con­tra­band which was des­tined for sale in the city.

The Deputy Min­is­ter was as­tounded that the smug­glers, who buy the fuel in Botswana, had man­aged to pass through two road­blocks with about 2,000 litres of petrol with­out be­ing ar­rested rais­ing fears that they had bribed their way through the check­points. Chief Nyanga­zonke of Kezi in Ma­tobo District also re­cently slammed some po­lice of­fi­cers in his area for al­legedly drink­ing al­co­hol with lo­cals while on duty say­ing their con­duct is con­tribut­ing to an in­crease in vi­o­lent crimes in the area. The chief said some po­lice of­fi­cers were fu­elling law­less­ness and urged their su­pe­ri­ors to in­ves­ti­gate their con­duct.

“We’ve in­ci­dents where the po­lice are drink­ing beer with mem­bers of the pub­lic while they’re on duty. This has re­sulted in the po­lice be­ing dis­re­spected by the lo­cals and in light of the stab­bing in­ci­dents oc­cur­ring in Kezi, it won’t be long be­fore we wit­ness a fight be­tween a po­lice of­fi­cer and a mem­ber of the pub­lic dur­ing these beer drink­ing sprees,” said Chief Nyanga­zonke.

On Mon­day, we re­ported a case where a po­lice As­sis­tant In­spec­tor based in Gwanda al­legedly chewed $200 he had de­manded as a bribe when he was cornered by two po­lice of­fi­cers im­me­di­ately af­ter re­ceiv­ing the dirty money. Medicine Siketha (38), who is sta­tioned at Gwanda Ur­ban Po­lice Sta­tion, al­legedly de­manded the bribe from a lo­cal busi­ness­man Mr Ta­muka Zhou to fa­cil­i­tate the clear­ance of his ve­hi­cle which had been im­pounded by the po­lice. Yes­ter­day, we re­ported on a po­lice­man from Masvingo who al­legedly gave a hooker his uni­form as surety af­ter fail­ing to pay her $20 for a night of sex and went on to make a false re­port of theft.

There are nu­mer­ous other re­ports of im­pro­pri­ety in­volv­ing po­lice of­fi­cers and fig­ures from the ZRP it­self vin­di­cate our con­cern that cor­rup­tion has reached alarm­ing lev­els within the force.

At least 300 traf­fic po­lice of­fi­cers were sacked for cor­rup­tion in 2014 af­ter be­ing found guilty among other breaches of the ZRP Char­ter of re­ceiv­ing bribes from mo­torists who had fallen foul of road reg­u­la­tions. Some of them are said to have mounted un­ap­proved road­blocks to de­mand bribes from er­rant mo­torists. This has dented the im­age of the ZRP as a pro­fes­sional force with a zero tol­er­ance to graft.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion needs to reded­i­cate it­self to its core val­ues of com­mit­ment, ac­count­abil­ity, trans­parency and in­tegrity. It also needs to be ruth­less in deal­ing with cases of in­dis­ci­pline and malfea­sance so that it re­claims its sta­tus as one of the best po­lice ser­vices in Africa.

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