Broke govt hikes traffic spot fines

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s stone-broke government has increased traffic spot fines by nearly 100 percent, in a controversial move it claims will reduce road accidents.

This comes as Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has just slapped suffering small businesses — including hair salons, driving schools and commuter omnibuses — with taxes as he bid to shore up the State’s heavily depleted coffers.

The new spot fines were announced in last Friday’s Government Gazette and have already taken effect.

“Most of the carnage that is witnessed on the country’s roads are a result of human error arising from failure to observe road traffic regulations.

“This is exacerbated by non-deterrent fines. It is, therefore, proposed to increase the standard scale of fines of level 1 to 3, with effect from 1 January 2017,” Chinamasa said.

Curiously, the new traffic fines were announced just weeks after police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri had called for steep increases in the spot fines, which he said would curb Zimbabwe’s worsening road carnage and reckless driving.

Level 1 fines are now pegged at $10 from $5; while level 2 fines have been increased to $15 from $10; and level 3 fines have been pegged at $30 from $20.

Driving a vehicle without windscreen wipers and driving without head or side lights, which used to attract a $5 fine now attracts a fine of $10.

Cutting corners when turning right and failure to signal when slowing down, stopping or turning, which used to attract a $10 fine now costs $20; and proceeding against a red traffic light, overtaking over solid lines and having a non-functional foot brake is now pegged at $30 from the previous $20.

The current standard scale of fines was last reviewed in February 2009, when the country migrated to the multi-currency regime.

In February, Chihuri told legislators that the government must hike spot fines to stem both road carnage and crimes, including drunken driving.

The police chief told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development, which was touring the law enforcement agency’s transport management and computerisation centre in Chikurubi, that legislators should push for steep fines for traffic violations, including drunken driving — measures he claimed would result in road discipline.

“The (current) fines are such that once you pay, you forget it. Take for example in Germany, if you commit an offence, they take all your number plates and for you to get one plate (back), you need to fork out $10 000, which is $20 000 for the two,” Chihuri told the lawmakers.

“I think for us, the number of people who commit road offences will continue to increase with such fines. But with the new system, all this will be a thing of the past.”

The High Court last month gave relief to thousands of motorists who complain about the random and unrelenting harassment at roadblocks by police, when it ruled that there was no law that allowed police to confiscate licences and impound vehicles of drivers who refused to pay spot fines.

This was after police had admitted that they had no right to force drivers to pay spot fines.

In the High Court application filed by Andrew Makunura, who was represented by Tonderai Bhatasara, in which he sought an order barring police from demanding spot fines, and that he be given back his driver’s licence, police made the welcome concession that paying spot fines was optional.

Judge Esther Muremba subsequently ruled that spot fines were illegal.

“As a result, police officers are allowed to accept fines from motorists at roadblocks if motorists are admitting to the offences and are willing to pay the fine to save themselves from the trouble of having to pay the fine later or from having to appear in court on a subsequent date to answer to the charges that they are already admitting to.

“What is illegal is for police officers at roadblocks to force motorists to pay spot fines against their will,” Muremba said in her ruling.

Comments (12)

The increase in spot fines is not the remedy to reduce road accidents,There are several issues not being taken into account to reduce the road carnage.The operation of mushika-shika in the CBD and the way Kombis are driven has caused most of the traffic accidents that are witnessed on the roads.Whenever there is a road accident 99% of the time its either a kombi or mushika-shika.What is the police doing about these operations?Why are they being left to do what they want?In HRE just go at the corner of 4th Street and Jason Moyo,mushiks-shika will be parked right in the middle of the intersection touting for clients.Can the police explain why they are letting these culprits do whatever they want? After all they are not registered to carry passengers!!!!At the end of the day we will start to conclude that they own these mushikasikas. Just check at how they drive, with drunken touts hanging precariously at the doors!!Hefty fines should be meted out to these moving coffins in order to remove them completely from our roads.

Road User - 30 March 2017

Reducing road accidents is just a scapegoat from this cruel and insensitive regime.The truth is that this stone broke zanu pf mafia government is raising funds to fund its violent and spine chilling 2018 election campaign.They continue to push us to the corner, but serious consequences awaits them in the not too distant future.

Janana wa Bikaz - 30 March 2017

Reducing road accidents is just a scapegoat from this cruel and insensitive regime.The truth is that this stone broke zanu pf mafia government is raising funds to fund its violent and spine chilling 2018 election campaign.They continue to push us to the corner, but serious consequences awaits them in the not too distant future.

Janana wa Bikaz - 30 March 2017

Great news for the traffic kop. Choose weather you want to pay the $10 or you want to give officer 'drink'. The margin is bigger from last time were you had to pay a forced spot fine. The thing is either way we are screwed. Hurombo kuvanhu

Ziggy Zigawo - 30 March 2017

Standard bribe is 5 dollars sad but that's what people do

Young Zimbo - 30 March 2017

the increase in spot fines and police intimidation is for revenue purposes only. the horrific driving discipline is due to the unprofessional teaching by the supposed driving schools in this country. where any person with a driving licence can teach learner drivers. we need traffic police in vehicles patroling the streets rather than standing at street intersections bullying the motoring public to hand over money for real and imaginery traffic offences. in other words ZRP get your act together and serve the public rather than intimidate them

scunner - 31 March 2017

This is synonymous with inflating previous fines just because they were authorised to use swipe machines at roadblocks,so in essence ,they are promoting the 3 tier pricing structure.

jacobosi - 31 March 2017

This is synonymous with inflating previous fines just because they were authorised to use swipe machines at roadblocks,so in essence ,they are promoting the 3 tier pricing structure.

jacobosi - 31 March 2017

Just to clarify that the paragraph which mentions Germany as an example of confiscating the number plates after committing an offence and only giving them back after receiving a payment of 10,000 USD each is the most primitive fake news, I ever heard. Whoever circulates such statements as facts proves to have a high criminal energy and potentially wants to justify his own weird plans based on lies.

German citizen - 31 March 2017

The biggest thieves in this country is now the police.Thieves at Mbare Musika are no longer a threat , but mbavha hombe mapurisa and this is the truth , nothing else but the truth. How does the police justify the fact that at road broke every police officer is holding a spot fine book ?

Kangira - 31 March 2017

Surely we, the taxpayers, are paying the police to protect us not harass us for stupid minor infringements. They should rather be attending to serious crimes or be on duty on major roads at night ensuring that all heavy vehicles have lights. They have their priorities totally wrong.

Gogo - 31 March 2017

Reducing road carnage by hiking traffic offence fines is a ludicrous scapegoat. Its fund raising for zanupf activities to rig the next election. High road carnage is in the highways and here are the cuases; 1 Narrow potholed roads with a lifeline that expired 30yrs ago. 2 Too many haulage trucks on these single strip roads are hazardous. 3 Poor quality motorvehicle spare parts especially tyres a result of poor economic policies/decisions. 4 Too many police check points frustrates/delays traffic movement. 5 Poor drivers who drive under the influence of alcohol. Fix the above in that order.

Sinyo - 31 March 2017

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