Zim traffic cops up the ante, seek access to offender bank accounts

2016-04-24 14:09

Harare – Zimbabwean traffic authorities want access to offenders' bank accounts to ensure they pay their fines.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police want to be able to garnish offenders' bank accounts so they can recover outstanding fines, the Sunday Mail and Sunday News newspapers reported.

The plan was only at the "idea phase" so far, spokesperson, Charity Charamba, was quoted as saying.

But already the "idea" has provoked a mixed reaction on social media.

Roadblocks are a constant feature on Zimbabwe's fairly limited road network. The frequency of them irks many motorists; sometimes there can be as many as four on a 14 kilometre stretch of road.

Police ticket motorists for obvious offences such as speeding. But there are also numerous petty offences that attract instant fines.

On-the-spot fines

If motorists' display reflective stickers on their back bumpers they could be fined for not having the correct honeycomb print on it. They could also be fined for having a non-working light-bulb above the rear number plate (even if the other bulb is working and the motorists are driving in daylight).

Police continued to demand on-the-spot fines from offenders but sometimes drivers do not have enough money on them.

They are supposed to take the ticket that police give to them and pay at a police station within seven days. But offenders are giving false information at roadblocks to get out of paying their dues, Charamba told the Sunday News.

She said new "technology" that the police want to use would also store the details of each licensed driver in Zimbabwe.

"If one is ticketed and does not pay then we can easily follow up using those details and bring them to book," the Sunday News quoted her as saying.

'Bank Under the Mattress'

There's just one problem with these plans: many Zimbabweans do not use banks. According to figures published by the FinScope Consumer Survey last year, around 70 percent of the population is unbanked, partly due to lack of confidence in the banking sector as a result of the 2000-2008 economic crisis and partly due to prohibitive bank charges.

And it's not just individuals who prefer to keep their money at home: it emerged this month that the national football governing body, ZIFA, also operated without a bank account.

Mobile money transfer platforms such as Econet Wireless's EcoCash have found a ready market among Zimbabweans who shun traditional banks.

"Another good reason to use the Bank of Under The Mattress," one Zimbabwean reader tweeted in response to Sunday's reports.

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