Wayne Bvudzijena, the national police spokesman told The Standard that they saw nothing wrong with their officers wearing high visibility reflective vests (reflectors) emblazoned with the logo of one of Harare’s biggest supermarkets —Afro Foods.
He was reacting to growing concerns that police officers were being used to advertise brands of private companies.
“We have not received any funding to properly clothe our officers and we have been surviving on donations from members of the public including Afro Foods,” Bvudzijena said.
“Even the Finance minister (Tendai Biti) has in the past admitted that the government is not fully supporting police operations and the institution itself, so it is public knowledge that we are inadequately funded.”
But legal experts maintained that police officers wearing reflectors with the Afro Foods logo sent wrong signals.
“I once asked some officers if they now work for Afro Foods,” prominent lawyer Alex Muchadehama said. “Pieces of clothing inscribed in that manner are not part of the police uniform.
“If Afro Foods are sponsoring the police, they should do that discreetly and not appear as if they now own the force.”
“That gives out wrong impressions about the force,” another lawyer Charles Warara said.
“If anyone assists the force, they should do that for the purpose of general service to the public and not to advance their own cause.”
A number of lawyers said although there was nothing illegal about such donations, the relationship could compromise the police.