• Prosecute corrupt police officers, don’t just transfer them.
By Senator Lilian Timveos,
Shadow Minister and MDC Spokesperson for Home Affairs
The Movement for Democratic Change would like to draw the nation’s attention to the growing problem of corruption within the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
We are shocked by daily reports of police officers being caught on the wrong side of the law and walking scot-free. Documented reports show that corruption goes to the highest levels of the police force in Zimbabwe. Unless we act now, it will only grow worse.
We call upon the President, the Police Service Commission and relevant Portfolio Committees in the National Assembly and the Senate, as well as the Anti-Corruption Commission to immediately institute Boards and Commissions of Inquiry into the growing problem of police corruption in Zimbabwe.
Last Friday, January 17, 2014, an Assistant Commissioner, Gideon Baloyi was sentenced to an effective nine months in prison for what amounts to corruption. Due to weaknesses in the Police Act, his crime was reduced to “acting in any manner prejudicial to good order or indiscipline or reasonably likely to discredit the force”. This is the reason why we, as MDC, are calling for a review of the Police Act, so that corruption can be identified as corruption and offenders are punished accordingly. The present definitions in the Act, where corruption is called “indiscipline, dishonesty or misconduct” have given rise to a situation where corrupt police officers are just dismissed or transferred instead of being sent to jail. This is not enough to end corruption in the ZRP.
Also last week, the ZRP transferred 33 traffic police officers accused of corruption at Avondale police station in Harare.
Such a decision will only serve to distribute corruption to other stations in Zimbabwe and spread bad influence among fellow officers. It will serve to embolden other corrupt officers, who are being given the message that if they engage in corruption, the worst that can happen to them is a mere transfer. This is wrong. Corruption is a criminal offence with statutory penalties and cannot be dismissed as mere “misconduct” or “indiscipline” by the ZRP.
Those corrupt officers must be prosecuted and not just transferred because corruption is a crime in Zimbabwe. We see this as just another attempt to shield the bigger fish in the system, who are profiting from graft every day.
There have also been other reports, of police officers being found taking bribes at roadblocks, and reports of others committing suicide after being caught. We even have the unusual case of a ten-year-old girl who endured terror from the police after picking up bribe money hidden near a roadblock in Beatrice. These cases must be investigated in a transparent manner in order to restore public confidence in the police.
We are seriously concerned about the abuse of the spot fine system, where there is no accountability whatsoever. We are concerned that some police officers have mysteriously acquired minibuses and are using their influence to deal with the competition. We are also alarmed that in general our police have abandoned the values that would mark a professional, efficient police service that upholds the basic tenets of a democratic society.
While corruption is growing, we note that the ZRP has ignored cases of political violence and politically motivated murders that have taken place mostly around election times. A culture of upholding human rights does not exist in the ZRP.
To remedy this situation, we demand a restructuring of the police service and a strengthening of the support systems essential for its effectiveness. The Police Act must be reviewed to make it more effective in rooting out corruption in the force, for a better Zimbabwe.
To contact Senator Lilian Timveos, call 263 779 701 082 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.