POLICE CORRUPTION THREATENING THE SURVIVAL OF SMALL TO MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMES) IN KWEKWE AND REDCLIFF IN ZIMBABWE

REPORT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POLICE CORRUPTION THREATENING THE SURVIVAL OF SMALL TO MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMES) IN KWEKWE AND REDCLIFF IN ZIMBABWE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa

Desai House

Second Floor

N/Mandela Avenue

P.O.Box 93

Kwekwe

Zimbabwe

Tel:                  +263 (0) 717152535

e-mail:             actsouthernafrica@gmail.com

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements. 3

Executive Summary.. 4

  1. Introduction and Background Information.. 6

1.1         Introduction. 6

1.2         Focus of the Report. 6

  1. Methodology.. 7
  2. Key Findings. 7

3.1         City of Kwekwe Police Stealing from SMEs in the Transport Sector. 7

3.2         City of Kwekwe Police Officers Punishing SMEs Refusing to Pay Bribes. 7

3.3         Zimbabwe Republic Police and SMEs in the Transport Sector. 8

3.4         The Police Contributing to Survival Problems faced by SMEs and Closures. 9

3.5         Loopholes Exploited by the Police in Concealing Proceeds of Corruption. 10

3.6         Clues on Illicit Accumulation of Wealth through Proceeds of Corruption. 11

  1. Conclusion and Recommendations. 11

4.1         Conclusion. 11

4.2         Recommendations. 12
 

Acknowledgements

© 2014. Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa

Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa

Desai House

N/Mandela Avenue

Second Floor

First Door

  1. O. Box 93

Kwekwe

Zimbabwe

Telephone:      +263717152535

e-mail:           actsouthernafrica@gmail.com

All rights reserved.

The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa is a Trust that was registered in 2004 in Harare and the Registration Protocol Number is MA147/2004.

The report is a product of research that was conducted by the Kwekwe/Redcliff Anti-Corruption and Service Delivery Monitoring Voluntary Action Group (KACSDM-VAG). The KACSDM-VAG monitors, reports and takes action against corruption and poor service delivery in Kwekwe, Redcliff, Silobela and Zhombe.

The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa would like to extend its appreciation to members of the KACSDM-VAG who include: Rev. Jackie Ngulube, Alfred. Y. Mnkandla, Tafadzwa Gambiza, Langton Mutevera, Tabita Karonga, Farayi Mauwa, Kefas Mzambezi, Morgen Chibayamombe, Jenett Sibanda, Fransisca Zvabvirepi, Dennis Chidamajaya, Kokerai Hilario Mapwanya, Dicosta Zimende, Ellah Mutengo, Arnold Phiri, Obert Chinhamo and Fraser Sibanda for their sterling role in monitoring, reporting and taking action against corruption and poor service delivery in Kwekwe, Redcliff, Silobela and Zhombe.

It is hoped that their contribution in exposing corruption by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City of Kwekwe police will be a huge boost to the SME sector as well as the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The bribe money being pocketed by a few individuals should find its way to the national coffers.

 

Executive Summary

The key finding of this investigation is that the City of Kwekwe (CoK) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) are responsible for the turmoil or quagmires facing the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Kwekwe and Redcliff. Unscrupulous members of the ZRP and the CoK police are accused of demanding bribes from motorists, shop owners and vendors, which does not only threaten the survival of SMEs, damage the trust between the people and the police and undermine the government’s revenue collection efforts but also cultivates impunity and cements a culture of corruption in the country. Many people consulted were bothered on who will be left to fight corruption when the law enforcement agents responsible for fighting it are also corrupt? Who shall guard the guard? This finding suggests a jaundiced view of the police being retrogressive and reversing all the gains made towards economic empowerment of the previously marginalized Zimbabweans. These culprits who are enriching themselves under the guise of maintaining of law and order must surely be brought to book.

In this study, it was learnt that the police could be pocketing a minimum of US$780,187.50 per annum from a sample of 285 commuter omnibuses in Kwekwe and Redcliff alone. In the same instance, the government through the Ministry of Finance, could be losing a minimum of US$2,080,500.00 per year from 285 commuter omnibuses only. This excludes all the bribe money received by the CoK police to allow Redcliff bound commuter omnibuses to pick and drop passengers in the Central Business District (CBD). It is this report’s considered opinion that urgent corrective action should be taken in order to rescue the situation. If US$2 million is being lost per annum in small cities such as Kwekwe and Redcliff, the loss being made country-wide is huge.

The assessment picked serious gaps in the monitoring of ZRP traffic police officers whilst on duty since the culprits take advantage of the lack of monitoring to exploit many opportunities at their disposal to hide acts and proceeds of corruption. Police officers from the ZRP drive and park their own personal vehicles at checkpoints. In Redcliff and at ZimBeef or Carswell turn-off two police officers from ZRP were seen staging a checkpoint on their own. The controversial issue of spot-fines force people to admit guilt when they are not to avoid being inconvenienced from their busy schedules. The CoK police, are paid money by shop owners operating without licences and vendors operating from undesignated points, to allow them to continue operating hassle-free. At some outlets selling food, liquor and beverages, these unprincipled CoK police officers enjoy free drinks and food.[1]

The SMEs that refuse to pay bribes are often punished through a spate of exorbitant fines as has been demonstrated through two cases that have been highlighted in this report. In the first case, the CoK police impounded a commuter omnibus and only released it upon payment of US$270. In another case, the CoK refused and/or neglected issuing a shop licence in violation of the Shop Licences Act, Chapter 14:17, which gave the City Police an opportunity to milk the SME of its hard earned income. In this instance, the CoK has many casualties that should claim justice at an appropriate time. Many SMEs have been muscled out of business through the conduct of the CoK.

More shocking is the fact that proceeds of corruption are being used for personal enrichment and the research team was hinted on massive accumulation of wealth by ZRP police officers who drive luxurious private motor vehicles, commuter omnibuses of their own, and other forms of wealth such as houses.  Commuter omnibuses owned by police officers operate hassle-free and the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa will be compiling a list of the commuter omnibuses in order to name and shame the culprits.

In keeping with the above, the following recommendations are made:

  1. All corrupt members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City of Kwekwe Police should be closely monitored and where they are found to be corrupt, they should be prosecuted and fired from work;
  2. Members of the SMEs, including all those in the transport sector, should desist from paying bribes since they are equally guilt and should be prosecuted if detected;
  3. The Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City of Kwekwe should audit assets and liabilities owned and owed by police officers and demand transparency and accountability on how such wealth was accumulated;
  4. Authorities responsible for SME development, including associations such as the Kwekwe Business Association of Small to Medium Enterprises, should carry out assessments of obstacles to SME development in Kwekwe and Redcliff, including documentation of all SMEs that have closed or scaled down due to corruption and flagrant violations of licencing laws and policies by the City of Kwekwe and take decisive corrective action towards addressing them, which may include but not limited to court action;
  5. Motorists, shop owners and members of the public witnessing corruption should document the same and where possible collect evidence such as pictures and videos and forward the same to the police and/or to the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa.

 

1.    Introduction and Background Information

1.1     Introduction

It is well known and documented widely that ‘the more entrepreneurial a country is, the more wealth it becomes.[2] The Zimbabwean government has for a long time been frantically making efforts to empower, its people, the majority of whom are in the category of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). In line with the Section 2 of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act (Chapter 14:33) indigenization is a ‘..…deliberate involvement of indigenous Zimbabweans in the economic activities of the country, to which hitherto they had no access, so as to ensure the equitable ownership of the nation’s resources’[3]. The whole idea is to empower these Zimbabweans, which entails ‘ …..the creation of an environment which enhances the performance of economic activities of indigenous Zimbabweans into which they would have been introduced or involved through indigenisation’.[4] As a sign of commitment the government set up the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises whose vision is ‘To be the ‘nerve’ centre for economic growth and empowerment through the development of SMEs in Zimbabwe’.[5] The Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, affectionately known as ‘Zim Asset’ is geared towards an empowered society and a growing economy.[6] However, all these efforts are being reversed and brought naught through acts of corruption and uncalled for behavior of certain institutions on the ground. This report demonstrates how the CoK and ZRP are part of the problem instead of being agents of the change needed to ensure the realization of the Zim Asset and other critical government efforts towards indigenization and empowerment of the SME sector.

1.2     Focus of the Report

The report zooms on the role of the CoK Police and the ZRP in disempowering the SME sector. While it is acknowledged that the two bodies play a very important role in maintaining law and order, but they are equally responsible and remain accused and blamed for the ailing SME sector due to corruption and predatory tendencies.

2.    Methodology

Consultations were made with the SME sector. This involved interviews with individuals running SMEs and triangulating the information received and subjecting the same to peer review. Efforts were made to witness corruption and capture the culprits through videos which was done in some cases but difficult in others. The findings made in this report captures a true pictures of the situation obtaining in Kwekwe and Redcliff and chances are high that the same findings will be confirmed in future if there is no behavioural change on the part of the CoK and ZRP.

3.    Key Findings

3.1     City of Kwekwe Police Stealing from SMEs in the Transport Sector

Complaints were received from motorists who alleged that municipal police officers demand between Ten and Twenty United States (US$10-US$20) a day from each commuter omnibus to allow them to pick and drop passengers in the Central Business District (CBD). It is alleged that all the vehicles that refuse to pay the bribes are banned from entering the CBD and often clamped when they enter the CBD. The Kwekwe Business Association of Small to Medium Enterprises provided a list of commuter omnibuses from Redcliff that are paying the City of Kwekwe municipal officers bribes to be enabled to pick and drop passengers in the CBD.[7]

Interviews made confirm that most of the commuter omnibuses from Redcliff that are allowed to pick and drop passengers in the CBD along Robert Gabriel Mugabe Way are believed to have paid City of Kwekwe police officers. These police officers move around and often congregate opposite the main post office checking and clamping other vehicles that would not have paid. Another spot for the harvesting of proceeds of corruption is an illegal pick-up point close to Fidelity for vehicles plying the Gokwe and Silobela routes.

According to the Kwekwe Business Association of Small to Medium Enterprises (2014), approximately 11 commuter omnibuses allegedly pay and these unscrupulous police officers harvest a minimum of US$110 a day or US$40,150 per annum. All this is at the expense of SMEs and the government.

3.2     City of Kwekwe Police Officers Punishing SMEs Refusing to Pay Bribes

The City Police are notorious for victimizing SMEs in the transport sector when they refuse to pay bribes. Consultations made reveal that vehicles are normally clamped and towed by a local break-down service company operating under the name and style of Breakdown Recovery as reflected in a receipt (No.2091) handed over to the research by one of the complainants. After clamping and towing the vehicle to a designated place huge sums of money are normally paid and this forces SMEs to pay bribes or else they will be forced out of business.

In one of the typical cases of punishment, a driver  drove his vehicle from Redcliff and dropped passengers at a designated dropping off point close to the criminal court and opposite NSSA. The vehicle was clamped and he paid as reflected in the table below:

Ref Date Description Amount Paid Receipt Number Remarks
1 11 September 2014 Break-down 30 2091
2 11 September 2014 Declamping 80 Authorised officer stated as 3932-3959
3 11 September 2014 Off-route 80 Authorised officer stated as 3932-3959
4 11 September 2014 Storage 50 Authorised officer stated as 3932-3959
5 11 September 2014 Towing Fee 30 Authorised officer stated as 3932-3959
  Total   270    

It is sad that the victim to police victimization for refusing to pay bribes had serious financial consequences. The SME had no choice but to pay in order to recover the vehicle. Any delays would have resulted in more storage costs. In a normal day, commuter omnibuses plying the Redcliff-Kwekwe route earn around US$70 a day. This means that one will have to work for close to four days in order to recover.  The city police implement such practices in order to deter motorists and force them to pay. In a situation spelt out above, authorities should investigate and punish the culprits and the individual city police officers should also be sued in their personal capacities.

3.3     Zimbabwe Republic Police and SMEs in the Transport Sector

Confessions from drivers and conductors confirm that police officers are receiving money ranging from five United States dollars (US$5) to ten United States dollars (US$10) per day from each commuter omnibus in order to carry out business hassle-free the whole day. This was reported to be the case, at the following areas:

  • Flyover, after the Kwekwe General Hospital along the way to Mvuma before Mbizo turn-off. The police keep a list of all commuter omnibuses and each one of them pays and if not it will not operate;
  • Checkpoint close to Zimasco. Motorists pay a daily fee to operate hassle-free the whole day;
  • ZimBeef or Caswell Beef turnoff as Simbi Park in Redcliff. Motorists pay a daily fee to operate hassle-free;
  • Flyover before Redcliff turn-off from Kwekwe. If a motorists escapes the ZimBeef turn-off without paying it will fall prey to police officers at the checkpoints;
  • Gokwe turn-off close to Amaveni round-about. The officers demand daily fees from commuter omnibuses.

Interviews made confirm that drivers and conductors of commuter omnibuses find it cheaper to pay the daily fee as compared to being ticketed. The money is pocketed by individual police officers at the expense of the government. The following table shows money that is pocketed daily by the police and possible loss incurred by the government.

Ref Checkpoint Possible Number of Commuter Omnibuses Bribe Paid at a rate of between US$5 and US$10  Per Day (Average of US$7.5 Per Day Loss to the National Fiscus calculated at US$20 Per Day
1 Flyover, after the Kwekwe General Hospital along the way to Mvuma before Mbizo turn-off 55 412.5 1,100
2 Checkpoint close to Zimasco 136 1,020 2,720
3 ZimBeef or Caswell Beef turnoff as Simbi Park in Redcliff 60 450 1,200
4 Flyover before Redcliff turn-off from Kwekwe
5 Gokwe turn-off close to Amaveni round-about 34 255 680
Total Per Day 285 2,137.5 5,700
Total Per Year   780,187.5 2,080,500

The table shows clearly that in small cities such as Kwekwe and Redcliff, the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe could be losing close to US$2,080,500 per annum, looking at 285 vehicles only. The loss is much more that US$2 million per year considering the total population of vehicles. This explains why some individual police officers have been managing to buy luxury vehicles and leading flamboyant lifestyles.

In keeping with the above, it would be in best interest of the state to confront the problem of the head-on.  It is said that the police could be pocketing US$780,187.50 meant for SME development.

3.4     The Police Contributing to Survival Problems faced by SMEs and Closures

The City of Kwekwe monitors the adherence to licensing requirements in line with its by-laws and in the process of doing so, there have been many complaints that have been labeled against the conduct of City of Kwekwe / City Police and the Zimbabwe Republic Police in executing their mandate. It is alleged that the police solicits bribes ranging from US$5 to US$10, which disadvantages SMEs, local authorities and the central government in terms of revenue generation. Members of SMEs paying bribes operate hassle-free.

Refusal to pay has consequences. In one of the cases brought to the attention of the Town Clerk of the City of Kwekwe and the Officer In Charge of the Kwekwe Central Police Station on the 22nd of July 2014 an SME paid US$245 through tickets from both the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City Police.[9] Had he paid, a bribe he would have avoided being ticketed.

On the 10th day of July 2014, a joint operation from the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City of Kwekwe police pounced on a Mr. Phiri / Mr. Gwede whose business was awaiting approval of licence application by the licencing authority. The status quo was explained to the joint operation but they ignored and issued tickets. The Zimbabwe Republic Police issued a ticket of US$30. As punishment, the SME suffered being ticketed by both the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City of Kwekwe police over the same matter. The SME was punished twice for the same offence, which violated his constitutional rights.

In keeping with the above, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City of Kwekwe police allegedly violated the people’s constitutional rights when they issued two tickets for the same offence at the same time. In the same case, the City of Kwekwe approved an application for licence but made it very difficult for the shop owner to get the licence.

3.5     Loopholes Exploited by the Police in Concealing Proceeds of Corruption

The lack of monitoring by the management of the ZRP and the City of Kwekwe facilitates corruption. The following strategies are used to conceal proceeds of corruption:

  • Drivers and Conductors advised to disembark from vehicles: Traffic police officers stop vehicles and demand that drivers and conductors talk to them from outside their cars under trees or at places where passengers can not see and witness bribe money being exchanged. This is a common practice at all checkpoints. The intention of the police and the transport operators is to conceal corruption from being detected.
  • Driving private vehicles to checkpoints: It appears that the police leadership allows police officers to drive their private vehicle to checkpoints. The research team has several pictures of vehicles owned by police officers and parked at checkpoints.
  • Hiding bribe money in near-by bushes: Proceeds of corruption are hidden in near-by bushes and covered by stones among other objects to avoid being detected. There have been several incidents in which these unscrupulous police officers lose their loots to smarter criminals who monitor from a distance and steal the money knowing that they will not report anywhere.
  • Receiving payments via telephone banking: In some cases, the research team learnt that dirty money was being exchanged via ecocash, telecash and onewallet. In the event of being monitored, the supervisors will not find money at the site, which gives a wrong impression of the absence of corruption yet it is rife.
  • Payments in kind: There have been cases in which motorists bring drinks and food. This is a strategy to seek favours from the police which stinks of corruption.

3.6     Clues on Illicit Accumulation of Wealth through Proceeds of Corruption

Evidence of corruption is abundantly available, which if accountability and transparency is demanded many police officers will find it extremely difficult to explain how they accumulated their wealth. The following clue exists to possible illicit accumulation of wealth:

  • Private Vehicles owned by Police Officers: Considering the salaries that police officers earn, it is expected that one will find it extremely difficult to afford a luxurious motor vehicle and maintain it right throughout the years. Fleets of private vehicles owned by police officers speak volumes about supplementary money that they could be getting through corruption.
  • Commuter Omnibuses owned by Police Officers: In Kwekwe and Redcliff, the research team was given a long list of commuter omnibuses owned by police officers. However, for fear of the unknown some of the police officers changed their names and inserted other people’s names but these vehicles are well known.
  • Houses Owned by Police Officers: In the locations several houses owned by police officers were identified and these houses were built without any loans borrowed.

4.    Conclusion and Recommendations

4.1     Conclusion

Whilst the intention of the government is to empower SMEs, it has been observed through this assessment that the practices on the ground are diametrically opposite or opposed to such intentions. What is crystal clear is that the survival of the SME sector is threatened by the conduct of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City of Kwekwe police..

It muat be put on record that whilst the maintenance of law and order can not be compromised, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City of Kwekwe police should desist from corruption as this disempowers SMEs and worsens the economic turmoil facing the country. Cor

It is high time that the respective institutions reflect on their practices and support SMEs instead of reaping the little they have for growth.

4.2     Recommendations

In keeping with the above, the following recommendations are made:

  1. All members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City of Kwekwe Police should be closely monitored and where they are found to be corrupt, they should be prosecuted and dismissed from work;
  2. Members of the SMEs, including all those in the transport sector, should desist from paying bribes since they are equally guilt and should be prosecuted if detected;
  3. The Zimbabwe Republic Police and the City of Kwekwe should carry out audits of assets and liabilities owned and owed by police officers and demand transparency and accountability on how such wealth was accumulated;
  4. Authorities responsible for SME development, including associations such as the Kwekwe Business Association of Small to Medium Enterprises, should carry out assessments of obstacles to SME development in Kwekwe and Redcliff, including documentation of all SMEs that have closed or scaled down due to corruption and flagrant violations of licencing laws and policies by the City of Kwekwe and take decisive corrective action towards addressing them, which may include but not limited to court action;
  5. Motorists, shop owners and members of the public witnessing corruption should document the same and where possible collect evidence such as pictures and videos and forward the same to the police and/or to the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa.

[1] This was observed in September 2014 at ZimBeef turn-off in Simbi Park, Redcliff.

[2] Barrow, C. (2006). The Complete Small Business Guide. Capstone Publishing. United Kingdom

[3] Section 2 of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act (Chapter 14:33

[4] ibid

[5] Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe (2014). MINISTRY OF SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT. [online]. available at http://www.zim.gov.zw/index.php/ministries/ministry-of-small-and-medium-enterprises. [Accessed on 20 september 2014]

[6] Ministry of Finance (2014). Zim Asset. [online]. Available at http://www.zimtreasury.gov.zw/zim-asset [Accessed on 20 September 2014]

[7] Meeting with the Kwekwe Business Association of Small to Medium Enterprises on the 20th of September 2014

[8] Meeting with the Kwekwe Business Association of Small to Medium Enterprises on 23 September 2014

[9] A letter from the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa to the Officer in Charge, Kwekwe Central and the Town Clerk of the City of Kwekwe dated 21 July 2014.

About Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa

The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa) is a non-profit making organisation registered to facilitate the sharing of anti-corruption best practices and advocacy against corruption in Southern Africa.
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3 Responses to POLICE CORRUPTION THREATENING THE SURVIVAL OF SMALL TO MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMES) IN KWEKWE AND REDCLIFF IN ZIMBABWE

  1. Instead of collecting bribes at checkpoints, the traffic police officers in Kwekwe have now appointed agents at the Kwekwe bus rank. These agents are well-known. The strategy is that they collect the bribes and transmit them to these unscrupulous police officers via ecocash, one wallet or telecash. The net is closing in

  2. After publishing the report, the Zimbabwe Republic Police visited the offices of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa purporting to be investigating the cases of corruption. It is not clear on what was achieved since corruption is still happening unchecked.

  3. Inspector Tadzaushe of the Zimbabwe Republic Police advised that police officers are allowed to take their private vehicles to checkpoints. What do you think about this?

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