Zimbabwe: Roadblocks - Chihuri Defiant, Mocks Ministers
ZRP Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri, has insisted that the numerous police roadblocks were necessary despite calls by the Ministers of Home Affairs and that of Tourism and Hospitality to reduce them.
Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, frustrated by their adverse impact on the sector, has said the road blocks make the country look like a police state.
Chihuri, who was speaking at a ceremony to commission some ZRP housing units in Chimanimani, said those speaking out against roadblocks had sinister motives.
He said police were aware of the criticism of roadblocks but had to mount them in order to protect the motoring public, adding that evil intentions had clouded the minds of the people, who he said no longer saw any good in the police force.
"The roads are there. They were not constructed by the police. The vehicles are there, they were not assembled by the police. The laws are there; they were not formulated and enacted by the police.
"All these things are not being done by the police, but you hear grown-up people criticizing the police heavily as if Zimbabwe is the only country that has cops on the roads," he said, adding that Zimbabweans were used to being protected by dogs.
Chihuri's comments fly in the face of his Home Affairs Minister, Ignatius Chombo and his Deputy Obedingwa Mguni who only recently concurred that the roadblocks on the country's roads were not necessary and needed to be reduced.
Chombo told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development that his Ministry had responded to the concerns of local and international tourists by proposing the reduction of roadblocks to just four per province starting at the end of June.
"We have told the Commissioner General of Police to reduce or remove all unnecessary roadblocks and leave the necessary ones," Chombo said.
He said it was not right for the police to mount roadblocks for the purposes of fund raising.
Chombo's deputy, Mguni weighed in saying the police should only mount roadblock when there were security concerns so as to prevent crimes such as drug and human trafficking.
"These are the core aspects of the police. These other things were being done on behalf of the Vehicle Inspection Department. There is no need for the police to check on fitness of vehicles and the route (for commuter omnibuses)," he told the parliamentary committee.
However, there has been heated debate within cabinet and parliament over the numerous police roadblocks, amid concerns the roadblocks had become the cash cow for the broke government.
Some corrupt members of the traffic police were also taking advantage of the roadblocks to line their pockets through taking bribes from motorists.
Far from serving the purpose of protecting the motoring public, traffic police officers were said to be given targets of up to $5000 per day in fines collected from each roadblock.
The ZRP was reportedly collecting nearly US$60 million from traffic fines this year, which was double the amount raised last year, according to the nearly double last year's projection, according to the Parliament Budget Office established in September last year to provide technical advice to Parliament in matters relating to the budget, economic policy and money bills.