Tonderai Rutsito Tech Spot
The recent pronouncement by High Court Judge Justice Francis Bere that there is no legal framework or any law compelling any motorist to pay a spot fine or which empowers the police to impound someoneâs vehicle has once again revived debate on corruption in the police force.Â Most motorists who hailed the pronouncement have been vending their anger at the police for using the spot fines to line their pockets.
The police in turn have vowed to continue with the spot fines arguing that it was an issue that was dealt with at Cabinet and Parliament level.
The ZRP downplayed the judge`s statement as nothing but his personal opinion.
In as much as we still do have professional police officers in Zimbabwe there are also rotten apples in the force.
More often when one is stopped for breaking the law, the traffic police officers try to make the driver pay a bribe.
This has become common at traffic lights at the Samora Machel and Leopold Takawira intersection, Samora and Prince Edward section and the Rotten Row and Robert Mugabe intersection, where traffic officers prey on drivers that go through red robots.
Justice Bere also highlighted the extent of the corruption when he stated that the police were âcursedâ if it was true that they were co-ordinating the collection of âsecurity feesâ to give commuter omnibus drivers free passage at roadblocks.
âQuite often, one hears of more illegal collections which are being made by the police,â he said.
âThere is talk of well co-ordinated collections of security fees on our public roads, particularly from commuter omnibuses, which fees are meant to give commuters omnibuses free and unhindered passage at police roadblocks.
âIf this is true, then the department (police) is surely cursed. How can a nation continue to condone such malpractices which create a breeding ground for corrupt tendencies?â
This is what is bothering the nation more than anything else? Who is accounting for these funds and how are the rogue officers benefiting even after serving the purported traffic law offender with a receipt? This remains a mystery!
Interestingly Judge Francis Bere openly admitted that there were issues around the handling of these funds and documentation.
âThe Section (356 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Chapter 9:07) compels the police to forthwith transmit all the documentation to do with the payment of spot fines to the court for confirmation by a magistrate,â he said.
âAll these provisions of the law are being flouted, with everyone watching helplessly while this illegality continues. There may be no problems with the police operating as an extension of Treasury, but if that is what is desired, then the legal framework must be put in place to support such kind of a development.ââ
How long will we continue to cry about the corruption without doing something about it. If spot fines are to stay then we have to use other payment methods that are more transparent.
Today we are using mobile money transfer services like Ecocash, Telecash and One Wallet.
These systems are so secure and robust that if we are serious about dealing with corruption then we should start by making them the only legal ways to pay fines.
Every legal roadblock or police station can truly afford to be furnished by an Ecocash, Telecash and a One Wallet agent, a move which the national mobile operators would be willing to support.
Of course issues of charges can then be discussed to see how much the mobile Networks can retain after a payment has been made via their platform.
To the newly appointed officer commanding the National Traffic Unit, Senior Assistant Commissioner Felie Chikowero-Mujanga, the onus is upon you to bring change.
I beg to agree with Justice Bere and there is no better way to conclude my hearty feelings than to quote his exact statement.
âWe talk of determination for the need to rid this country of corruption. How can we achieve this when we allow our police officers to conduct themselves in such a corrupt manner? My view is that all these issues must be seriously looked at and corrective action be taken without further delay.â
â The writer is the editor of TechnoMag, Zimbabwe`s Premiere Technology Magazine, More In depth from and follow us on Twitter @TechnoMagZw and join us on ww.facebook.com/technomagzw