Kwekwe, Zimbabwe: A recent survey conducted by the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa has revealed that motorists are forced by the Zimbabwe Republic Police to pay spot fines regardless of their innocence due to threats against them. It was revealed in the study that motorists pay spot fines to avoid having their drivers’ licences and permits seized, to avoid inconveniences and being delayed, to prevent their vehicles from being impounded, and to prevent their vehicles from being surrendered to Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID). Furthermore, some motorists lost drivers’ licences and permits when they were confiscated by the police after they failed to pay the spot fines needed.
Apart from the practice of spot fines being illegal and unconstitutional, motorists insisted that spot fines fuel corruption because of various reasons such as:
• The bribe money demanded by the police is often less than the gazetted traffic fines and motorists prefer paying bribes since that will be a huge saving on their part;
• The salaries of police officers are very low and they demand bribes to supplement their salaries;
• Motorists are time conscious and do not want to be inconvenienced and prefer paying bribes to drive hassle-free;
• Refusal to pay often leads to vehicles being impounded and taken to VID for mechanical checks;
• Motorists will not have the stipulated spot fines and therefore opt for a lesser amounts;
Mr. Obert Chinhamo, the Programmes Director of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa castigated the Zimbabwe Republic Police for being hypocritical in the fight against corruption. “What amazes me is that the police pretends to be fighting corruption and crime on one side and on the other side they are promoting a practice that fuels corruption and criminality. Spot fines fuel corruption and the link is very clear. Legal experts have also spoken and said that spot fines are illegal and unconstitutional. A constitutional body such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police therefore should move away from anything that is illegal and unconstitutional. The insistence on spots fines is unconstitutional and therefore should be discontinued” he says.
Motorists gave numerous recommendations. One key recommendation is that the ticketing system should be re-introduced. The re-introduction of the tickets will allow motorists to pay the fines within seven (7) days or face prosecution. Furthermore, motorists pointed out that police officers should not be allowed to receive cash at checkpoints but rather motorists should pay through the bank, Ecocash or at police stations. In addition, motorists recommended that spot fines should be discontinued considering that they are deemed to be not only illegal but they are unconstitutional.
Mr. Chaumba the Regional Coordinator of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa warned the Zimbabwe Republic Police that it is fact losing its credibility because of its insistence on spot fines and harbouring bribe thirsty police officers. Furthermore, he indicated that police checkpoints are being used as cash cows by traffic police officers. “Traffic police are the richest among other sections within the police. That is clear indication that they have extra income from somewhere. I do not know when last lifestyle audits were carried out but I insist these should be carried out as a matter of urgency. I strongly urge the management of the police to carry out these audits since some police officers have accumulated wealth which they cannot justify. Also insistence on a practice that illegal and unconstitutional tarnishes the image of the police. ” he says.
The survey report is available on request and has also been uploaded to the site. http://www.anticorruptiontrust.org
For more information, please contact
Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa), 1 Jacaranda Avenue, P. O. Box 93, Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, Tel: +263 (0) 55 25235, Mobile: +263 (0)77 33 02 830, (Chaumba) Mobile: +263 (0)78 449 0660 (Chinhamo), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org