Zim govt to slash roadblocks to just 40 countrywide

2017-06-21 06:06
Jaguar car. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Jaguar car. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Harare - The Zimbabwe government says it will cut to just four per province the number of roadblocks, which are a massive source of frustration for motorists, it was reported on Tuesday.

'Cash collection points'

The numerous police roadblocks in Harare and on main highways are seen by Zimbabwean motorists as cash collection points for the police, who impose fines for petty offences and are allowed to keep the fine money to fund the force’s operations.

Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo and his deputy say this will now change, and roadblocks can’t exist only for the purpose of raising money, the official Herald says. But their comments were made orally before a parliamentary committee, and may not have any legal force.

'Hassle free travel'

"We have told the Commissioner General (of police) to reduce or remove all unnecessary roadblocks and leave the necessary ones," Chombo was quoted as telling the parliamentary portfolio committee on transport.

"We want the police to do their work, but we also want the public to have a hassle free travel," Chombo said, adding: "I think you cannot mount a roadblock simply because you want to raise money."

'Four roadblocks per province'

His deputy, Obedingwa Mguni added: "By next week, we would have started zoning system where road blocks will be put according to province and a province should have not more than four roadblocks."

Zimbabwe has 10 provinces, including Harare Metropolitan.

Cautious optimism has greeted the news, although pressure group Kubatana and other residents noted on Tuesday that the minister’s order was yet to be implemented. On Twitter Kubatana noted roadblocks in at least six places within a small area of Harare on Tuesday morning.

Victory for citizens?

Rights lawyer Doug Coltart said on Twitter that the minister’s call for a reduction in police roadblocks was a "victory" for citizens "who have engaged in daily acts of resistance against police abuse & pressurized the Govt to change."

But he called on motorists to document cases in which police are going against the directive.

Rogue cops

Last week police claimed that some rogue ex-police officers, dismissed from the force for corruption, were among those mounting roadblocks to fleece motorists. Although seven "bogus cops" have been recently arrested, other suspects are still on the loose, said the Herald in a separate report Tuesday.

The rogue cops are reported to be armed with official deposit fine books and "spikes" for throwing under the tyres of cars. News24 saw cops armed with spikes on Monday at a roadblock, which had every sign of being an official one.

Read more on:    ignatius chombo  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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