BY XOLISANI NCUBE
HOME Affairs secretary Melusi Matshiya on Monday warned that security forces, who are deployed to man the country’s border posts without receiving allowances, are prone to corruption and underhand dealings.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Security, chaired by Zanu PF MP for Umzingwane Brigadier-General (Retired) Levi Mayihlome, Matshiya revealed that security details deployed at border posts were living in squalid conditions without proper tools to prevent smuggling of goods and people.
Matshiya told the committee that police officers at the border posts were being deployed without allowances and food in some cases due to budgetary constraints.
“It is something that I am ashamed of, but this is the reality. Yes, we have mechanism in place to discipline them, but they are exposed. I am their boss and I have to tell the truth, we send a police officer for 30 to 40 days away in the bush without money and we expect them to work. They will be tempted,” he said.
Matshiya said at least US$1,5 million was required to buy monitoring equipment for the border posts to curb smuggling.
The permanent secretary who was accompanied by police Deputy Commissioner General Levi Ncube, Immigration principal director Respect Gono and Registrar-General, Clemence Masango, said the issue of subsistence allowances for police officer deployed at border posts should be dealt with urgently to ensure that those tasked to guard the country’s borders are well taken care of.
The committee wanted Matshiya and his crew to explain strategies they were undertaking to deal with smuggling of goods and people at border posts across the country.
The committee was told that the country’s border posts were porous and minerals such as gold and diamonds were being smuggled to South Africa and at times officers deployed there get involved in the illicit trade.
“This is bleeding the economy, at some point we had more than 20kg of gold smuggled through Zambia. We also had diamonds that were taken through South Africa and they found their way to the United Arab Emirates,” Matshiya said.
Beitbridge East MP, Albert Nguluvhe (Zanu PF) took the secretary and the police boss to task on allegations that the police details deployed at border posts were abusive and at times assisting smugglers to conduct their trade.
So far, according to Matshiya, 187 immigration officers have been charged with corruption and 177 of those have been convicted, while in the Registrar-General’s Office 26 officers were accused of graft and 19 of them convicted.