Lincoln Towindo, Harare Bureau
THE country’s police force is set for a major shake-up as the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Affairs has come up with a new roadmap which contains a raft of measures that will see some police officers going for re-training and re-orientation programmes in a bid to improve professionalism in the force.
The ministry said in a bid to curtail corruption, treasury had been tasked to closely monitor police fines from the public and would retain much of this revenue.
A new training schedule is being drawn up to infuse professionalism throughout the force and improve officers’ general interactions with the public.
In addition, only top cops will get personal issue vehicles, with non-critical departments surrendering their cars to crime-fighting and other response units.
Drones and other technologies will also be used to counter smuggling; and electronic passports will be introduced to enhance travellers’ security.
The reforms are in the Home Affairs and Cultural Affairs Ministry’s 100-day plan which feeds into President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s overarching economic strategy.
Fines collected by police have traditionally been remitted to Treasury, but the ZRP asked to retain a huge chunk to oil operations and this reportedly enmeshed the force in rampant corruption, which, in turn, cultivated crude relations with the citizenry.
The 2018 National Budget Statement shows that police collected US$38,28 million in fees and fines between January and September 2017.
Home Affairs Minister Dr Obert Mpofu told our Harare Bureau last week that corruption was intolerable and Acting Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga had been tasked to implement the roadmap.
“We have submitted a plan to Cabinet on what we intend to do over the first 100 days and it was approved. We are now working to ensure that we implement these goals over the 100 days and it is our intention to achieve these targets. I have no doubt that it will be achieved.
“I have directed all officers in the ministry to focus on these goals for the first 100 days. On policing, we have already started with the reduction of roadblocks and we have directed police to focus on policing. We had noticed that roadblocks had become the source of rampant corruption as they were being set up without following proper procedures.”
Dr Mpofu also said: “We have been addressing the issue of corruption for some time now and Acting Commissioner-General Matanga is leading that reorientation following the meeting I had with the (police) commanders. He is implementing the roadmap towards professionalising the police services.
“There will be provincial visits followed by workshops to deal with areas of weakness and to encourage officers to focus on professional behaviour when executing their duties. There will also be retraining of officers, some of whom joined the force a long time ago and may need retraining. Further, we will also invite resource people from outside (the force) to conduct workshops on proper decorum of officers.”
On remitting fines to Treasury, he said: “It has always been part of how police operate: police retain a certain amount of money while the rest is remitted to Treasury. We will now be strictly monitoring this to ensure that the regulations are followed to the word.
“We had cases where individuals were taking advantage of this dispensation and not remitting what was due to Treasury; we will make sure we put a stop to this . . .We are plugging all loopholes for corruption through measures that I cannot disclose to the public to ensure that there is minimal occurrence of corruption.”
Dr Mpofu said border security will be tightened to avert smuggling, which has, for instance, seen Zimbabwe lose gold worth US$500 million yearly.
Authorities will equip the Police Minerals and Border Control Unit with modern surveillance technology.
“We are intensifying border controls to minimise leakage of our resources which is costing the country millions of dollars every year. In addition, we are increasing both land and air patrols and will deploy modern methods of monitoring movements on our borders such as use of drones. Liaison with our fellow security service organisations will continue to ensure we minimise smuggling.”
Dr Mpofu said Government will soon introduce e-passports as part of measures to modernise and enhance the security of travel documents.
An e-passport, also known as biometric passport, is a traditional travel document with an embedded electronic chip containing a holder’s biometric information.
It is already being used in other African countries such as Kenya.
“At the Registrar-General’s Office, we are modernising by introducing modern technologies to register. We intend to computerise the entire system and minimise manual recording of certificates. We also plan to roll out e-passports as part of our 100-day plan.”