Police must walk the talk

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has, for the past few weeks, been telling all and sundry that they will reduce roadblocks on the country’s roads and highways and that the law did not permit their members to throw spikes at moving vehicles.

However, nothing has changed. In fact, the roadblocks have multiplied and the spike-wielding cops have become even more menacing in most of the country’s towns and cities.

This is despite serious concerns raised by various stakeholders in the economy — including politicians, tourism players, citizens and corporates — about the negative effects the numerous roadblocks are having on the economy.

We hope our police force will learn from other countries like Tanzania and Kenya that have already reduced the number of police roadblocks after realising their negative consequences on tourism and the ease-of-doing-business.

It has to be noted that we do not condone lawlessness, but there is need for action to protect both foreign and local tourists from harassment of any form, both on our roads and at the country’s entry and exit points.

But the standard of policing now common on our roads, which is now characterised by armies of uniformed police officers armed with iron spikes, leaves a lot to be desired.

We strongly agree that the use of spikes by police to enforce compliance has no space in a civilised society, as there are other modern and effective methods of traffic control and management.

As such, government must invoke the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter IV, Section 38 to charge police officers who throw spikes at moving vehicles, who face up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $3 000.

This will not only save lives by deterring the rogue cops from taking the law into their own hands but will also preserve the sanctity of our Constitution.

The use of spikes violates both the Constitution and Section 38 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act).

At times people even wonder whether the police stations dotted around the country still have manpower to deal with other issues citizens may want assistance with, when you look at the numbers of cops that are on the roads.

There are many other crimes that need attention around the country, over and above what happens on the roads, that require swift responses from members of the force.

We hope both the ministers responsible for the police and its command structure will act to ensure there is uniformity between policy pronouncements and what happens on the ground.

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