via ZLHR to sue govt over traffic fines – Newsday January 5, 2016
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has threatened to sue the government over the recently-introduced traffic fines, which they say are “grossly unreasonable and do not serve the ends of justice”.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Parliament recently endorsed the decision to hike the traffic fines from a maximum of $20 to $100, arguing the penalties would help restore order and reduce road carnage.
The new traffic fine schedule has already been gazetted, although police have not yet implemented the new rates, amid reports they were not sure whether to collect the money as spot fines or wait for traffic offenders to pay at the courts of law.
Dzimbabwe Chimbga, head of public interest litigation at ZLHR, said his organisation has received complaints from motorists and would soon file a court challenge.
“We will be tabling a legal challenge on their behalf when we open on Monday. We are obviously concerned that the government is trying to resolve a political and economic problem by using fines as a fundraising tool. This is not the purpose of fines,” he said.
“The fine is grossly unreasonable especially considering that the average salary earned by civil servants is $300 a month and that is not even being paid. How does the government hope to see these motorists pay such fines?” he said.
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) said the new traffic fines were likely to increase cases of bribery among traffic police officers manning the country’s highways.
“Where unemployment is at a record high of 80%, such decisions reflect a high level of insensitivity to the plight of citizens. To introduce such unrealistic fines in an environment of poverty encourages lawlessness of both citizens and law enforcement,” TIZ said.
Meanwhile, a snap survey showed that even though the government has already published a Statutory Instrument giving effect to the new fines, police operating at roadblocks were still using with the old fines.
A police source said there was still confusion on whether the $100 fine was supposed to be collected on the spot or in court.
“We are still using the old fines until we receive communication from the top. We understand that it’s not clear if these are spot fines, so there is need for that clarity,” said a police source.
Both national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner, Charity Charamba and her deputy Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi were unreachable for comment yesterday.