Bit­ter medicine for traf­fic of­fend­ers

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Levi Mukarati Deputy News Ed­i­tor

ER­RANT and neg­li­gent mo­torists who fla­grantly dis­re­gard road rules will have to con­tend with hefty traf­fic penal­ties when the new stan­dard scale of fines, which pre­scribe a max­i­mum penalty of $700 and im­pris­on­ment, be­come op­er­a­tional on Tues­day.

Road traf­fic of­fences are cur­rently clas­si­fied un­der lev­els 1 to 3 of the stan­dard scale of fines and at­tract a max­i­mum fine of $30.

How­ever, un­der new rev­enue mea­sures an­nounced in the 2019 Na­tional Bud­get, most of which be­come op­er­a­tional this week, the fines are now placed in lev­els eight to 10.

Par­lia­ment ap­proved the Fi­nance Bill on De­cem­ber 20. It now awaits ap­proval by Se­nate when it re­sumes sit­ting next year.

Jus­tice, Le­gal and Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ziyambi Ziyambi said last week al­though the Bud­get has not been ap­proved by the Up­per House, the mea­sures con­tained therein will be­come op­er­a­tional on the pre­scribed dates since the Fi­nance Bill was unique.

“The Fi­nance Bill is a dif­fer­ent kind of Bill com­pared to oth­ers that come to Par­lia­ment. Cer­tain pro­cesses do not ap­ply to it,” said Min­is­ter Ziyambi.

“That is why you find even the mea­sures set by the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance (and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment) that are ef­fec­tive mid­night on the day he pre­sented the bud­get, au­to­mat­i­cally be­come ef­fec­tive.

“All those mea­sures that are ef­fec­tive on Jan­uary 1 2019 will come to ef­fect.

“Also note that the Fi­nance Bill sailed through in the Na­tional Assem­bly, and if we look at the Con­sti­tu­tion and other rules of Par­lia­ment with re­gard the Fi­nance Bill, Se­nate can­not re­ject it or amend it.

“What they can sim­ply do is re­fer back to the Lower House. So, ef­fec­tively, all pro­pos­als in the bud­get are al­lowed and they take ef­fect.”

The coun­try’s roads are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing death traps as fa­tal­i­ties from traf­fic ac­ci­dents have pro­gres­sively risen

◆ since the be­gin­ning of the year, some­thing the Traf­fic Safety Coun­cil of Zim­babwe (TSCZ) blames on er­rors of com­mis­sion and omis­sion by mo­torists.

Traf­fic ac­ci­dents dur­ing last week’s Christ­mas hol­i­days claimed 12 lives – an in­crease from the nine peo­ple that were killed dur­ing the same pe­riod last year — and in­jured 63 oth­ers.

Wor­ry­ingly, all the 122 ac­ci­dents that were recorded dur­ing the pe­riod were blamed on hu­man er­ror.

TSCZ spokesper­son Mr Ta­tenda Chin­oda cheered Trea­sury’s in­ter­ven­tion, de­scrib­ing it as “a step in the right di­rec­tion”.

“The in­creased fines are among a raft of mea­sures to deal with traf­fic of­fend­ers and curb road ac­ci­dents.

“Puni­tive fines are a step in the right di­rec­tion and as the Traf­fic Safety Coun­cil of Zim­babwe we are fully in sup­port.

“High traf­fic fines are in line with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice on road traf­fic safety en­force­ment.”

In his maiden bud­get speech on Novem­ber 22, Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Professor Mthuli Ncube said the car­nage on the coun­try’s roads are “a re­sult of hu­man er­ror aris­ing from fail­ure to ob­serve road traf­fic reg­u­la­tions”.

“The most com­mon of­fences com­mit­ted in­clude pro­ceed­ing against a red ro­bot, over­tak­ing over solid line, in par­tic­u­lar, at robots, en­croach­ing onto on­com­ing traf­fic to avoid con­ges­tion, drop­ping pas­sen­gers at un­des­ig­nated points, driv­ing with­out head or side lights, cut­ting cor­ners when turn­ing right and fail­ing to stop when in­structed to do so by the po­lice, among oth­ers,” he said.

The pro­posed traf­fic fines are part of broader rev­enue mea­sures that will kick-in on Tues­day.

No­tably, the 42-day mora­to­rium on pay­ment of mo­tor ve­hi­cle im­port duty in for­eign cur­rency — which caters for per­sons seek­ing ex­emp­tion for ve­hi­cles im­ported on or be­fore 22 Novem­ber – will also ex­pire this week.

It is un­der­stood that the bio­met­ric reg­is­tra­tion ex­er­cise for Gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees, meant to weed out ghost work­ers, gets im­pe­tus this week, while a 5 per­cent cut on re­mu­ner­a­tion of se­nior civil ser­vants and paras­tatal bosses also comes into ef­fect.

Fur­ther, there are tax re­lief mea­sures for em­ploy­ees as the tax-free thresh­old will rise from $300 to $350, while the max­i­mum tax rate will come down to 45 per­cent from 50 per­cent.

Gov­ern­ment has also ex­tended du­tyfree im­por­ta­tion of fer­tilised chicken eggs as a mea­sure to cush­ion the poul­try sec­tor that lost over 180 000 breed­ing hens to Avian In­fluenza last year.

There is also a fa­cil­ity for the im­port of 100 pub­lic ser­vice buses with a sit­ting ca­pac­ity of 60 pas­sen­gers at 5 per­cent duty.

The 2019 Bud­get was pre­sented un­der the theme: “Aus­ter­ity for Pros­per­ity”.

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