via Corruption: Who will watch the watchers? | The Herald January 22, 2014 by Tichaona Zindoga
I am a law-abiding citizen.
Most Zimbaweans are.
I have close relations with some men and women who serve in the force called the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
I admire, even love, these people.
Most of them.
The police make up one of the key institutions in the country by way of keeping the peace and upholding law and order.
That is at it should be.
But there is a rather worrying trend among the police these years, especially with respect to corruption and how the police are generally perceived by the public.
I happen to be among Zimbabweans that are unhappy with the way some members – the temptation is to say most – of the police conduct their business especially in our daily lives.
You see, I am one of the commuting “members of the public”.
I live in one of the western suburbs.
I have lived in a couple of the same suburbs, hardly 20 kilometres out, for most of the recent times.
I use public transport, like many of us.
Over the years, we have grown used to seeing the police mounting several roadblocks in the space of a few kilometres.
If you live in Highfield, for example, you are likely to face at least four roadblocks before getting into the city centre.
If you live in Glen View you are likely to be stopped at least five times.
If you live in Kuwadzana, you are likely to be stopped at three roadblocks.
A commuter from Zengeza in Chitungwiza can count three.
The trend is replicable.
We used to think these roadblocks, in the traditional way, were for the safety of the public.
Not many people would buy that any more.
There are plenty of reasons for it.
First, these roadblocks, apart from the inordinate delays, serve only as tollgates whose monies are largely unaccounted for.
The “spot fines” that kombi drivers pay ranging from US$5 to US$15 for various offences, real or imagined, end up in somebody’s back pocket.
In some areas like Highfield, kombi crews are pooling moneys to give to the responsible authorities so that those that pay, and are furnished with a secret code, are not stopped.
The same goes for shebeens and drug houses – and boy there are now too many in the high-density suburbs.
Some in the police are acting like the mafia.
Or feudal lords.
They grow rich.