via Cops moan risk of renting with criminals 06 July 2014
POLICE officers are risking their lives through renting accommodation among criminals in townships populated by ordinary Zimbabweans, a senior police officer has told parliament.
Assistant Commissioner Takawira Nzombe told a parliamentary committee on Home Affairs police accommodation within their residential compounds countrywide has become scarce with those who have failed to be accommodated becoming tenants among “criminals”.
“All police officer should be housed in police camps, not the situation we have at the moment where mostly junior officers are staying outside the camp in high density suburbs and things like that
and using public transport this situation is not ideal,” said Nzombe.
Since independence the Zanu PF led government has not built any meaningful accommodation for its ballooning base of police personnel, with those lucky to find the free accommodation still residing in camps that were built before independence by the colonial Ian Smith regime.
Their plight was exposed during the controversial 2005 Operation Murambatsvina when government unleashed the ZRP to lead the demolition of illegal backyard structures built by poor communities to supplement their incomes through rentals paid by tenants.
The less fortunate police officers were caught in the demolitions which were described as an act of gross human rights violation by local and international rights based groups.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean police, who are often loathed for their notoriety and partisanship back home, are said to be on demand by various employers in and outside the country.
“We are facing challenges of human resources, experienced officers leaving for greener pastures because the conditions of service are not good,” Nzombe said, “The police service, just like all civil service departments, faces the challenge of low and poor remuneration.”
Top of those who have demanded the services of the Zimbabwe Republic Police is the United Nations whose peace keeping missions have drawn from the ZRP irrespective of the negative label back home.
Zimbabwe’s police have also been easy hire by local security firms, embassies and non-governmental organisations.
According to Nzombe, meagre remuneration and poor working conditions continue to force its officers out of its ranks, creating a case where the force has to continue recruiting.
Police officers are only offered free uniform and shoes during graduation and often take years before they get new footwear. Currently, they receive salaries of between of $350-$500.
Because of the exits, the ZRP’s target of 50,000 members now remains largely unachievable in the meanwhile.