ASSISTANT EDITOR 10 April 2017
HARARE – Zimbabwe Council of Tourism (ZCT) chief executive Paul Matamisa
has called for an all-stakeholders meeting to deal decisively with
menacing police roadblocks which have triggered scorn and outrage among
business and ordinary Zimbabweans.
This comes as a large cross-section of Zimbabweans have condemned a
government directive that empowers police to mount one roadblock within a
10-kilometer radius, arguing that the ill-advised decision would fuel
corruption on the country’s roads.
Curiously, police have actually increased roadblocks within the 10 km
zones – a move which road users and ordinary Zimbabweans say flies in the
face of calls by lawmakers and tourism players to minimise roadblocks –
which they blame for driving away tourists and wasting productive hours.
“As has been pointed out by many people and organisations in recent
months, the roadblock situation has had a direct and negative impact on
“Domestic travel, which is almost entirely dependent on self-drive travel,
has been reduced significantly by the roadblocks, as people prefer to stay
at home than be exposed to the delays and hassle factor created by the
presence of a large number of roadblocks along all tourism travel routes.
“Recent reports have shown that between Harare and Mutare, for example,
there are sometimes in excess of 20 roadblocks, and some travellers report
having been made to stop at each of these, resulting in three-hour
journeys becoming as long as six hours,” Matamisa said in a statement.
“International travellers hiring vehicles or travelling in coaches and
buses have also reported delays and have been especially critical of what
they have described as hostility and aggressiveness on the part of
personnel manning the roadblocks. It is a point raised again and again by
tourists on departure and there have been reports of some foreign
travellers gaining the very unfortunate and inaccurate impression that the
country is in a state of unrest.
“Whether this perception is factual or not, this perception exists and
must be addressed, as it has created something of a public relations
nightmare for Zimbabwe as a whole, not the least the travel and tourism
“ZCT is very keen to work with all stakeholders in reviewing the whole
situation and working on a means of overcoming the problems created by the
roadblocks situation in a manner that is satisfactory to all parties. In
this regard, we are seeking meetings with all relevant authorities and we
will share our thoughts on what can be done,” added Matamisa.
Recently, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo said police had been
instructed to decongest roadblocks through a directive which allowed one
roadblock within a 10-km radius to promote ease of doing business.
However, this has not gone down well with motorists who have launched a
campaign against the police ahead of filing a Class action at the
“Whilst police are entitled to roadblocks to maintain law and order in
terms of section 68 of the Constitution their actions have to be
reasonable, proportionate and fair,” former Cabinet minister and Road
Users Association (RUA) lawyer, David Coltart told the Daily News last
“Setting up a roadblock in every 10 km radius is not reasonable or
proportional to maintaining law and order. In fact the numerous roadblocks
are a direct violation of section 66 which says every Zimbabwean and
anyone living in Zimbabwe has a right to move freely in Zimbabwe.”
The public outcry comes as stone-broke government has increased traffic
spot fines by nearly 100 percent, in a controversial move it claims will
reduce road accidents.
The new traffic fines were announced just weeks after police
Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri had called for steep increases in
the spot fines, which he said would curb Zimbabwe’s worsening road carnage
and reckless driving.
The High Court last month gave relief to thousands of motorists who
complain about the random and unrelenting harassment at roadblocks by
police, when it ruled that there was no law that allowed police to
confiscate licences and impound vehicles of drivers who refused to pay
This was after police had admitted that they had no right to force drivers
to pay spot fines.