AN investigation by the Anti-Corruption Trust (ACT) of Southern Africa has revealed that millions of dollars in potential revenue is being lost due to corruption by City of Kwekwe (CoK) officials and some unscrupulous police officers.
BY OUR STAFF
The investigation whose findings were presented to Kwekwe town clerk and ZRP officer commanding Kwekwe district recently, warned that corruption threatened the survival of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Kwekwe and Redcliff.
Kwekwe mayor, Matenda Madzoke, who recently refused to ride in the gravy a by rejecting a top- of-the-range council vehicle among other luxuries, could not be reached for comment over the explosive report.
ACT-Southern Africa alleged that unscrupulous ZRP and council officers were demanding bribes from motorists, shop owners and vendors.
The report said this damaged the trust between the people and the police and undermined the government’s revenue collection efforts, cultivated impunity and cemented a culture of corruption.
“Many people consulted were bothered on who will be left to fight corruption when the law enforcement agents responsible for fighting it are also corrupt? Who shall guard the guard?,” reads the report.
“This finding suggests a jaundiced view of the police being retrogressive and reversing all the gains made towards economic empowerment of the previously marginalised Zimbabweans. These culprits who are enriching themselves under the guise of maintaining law and order must surely be brought to book.”
ACT-Southern Africa said the investigation revealed that police could be pocketing a minimum of US$780 187 per annum from a sample of 285 commuter omnibuses in Kwekwe and Redcliff alone.
In the same instance, treasury could be losing a minimum of US$2 million per year from 285 commuter omnibuses.
“This excludes all the bribe money received by the police to allow Redcliff-bound commuter omnibuses to pick and drop passengers in the Central Business District,” said ACT-Southern Africa.
“It is this report’s considered opinion that urgent corrective action should be taken in order to rescue the situation. If US$2 million is being lost per annum in small cities such as Kwekwe and Redcliff, the loss being made country-wide is huge.”
ACT-Southern Africa said the assessment picked serious gaps in the monitoring of ZRP traffic police officers while on duty. It said culprits took advantage of the lack of monitoring to exploit many opportunities at their disposal to hide acts and proceeds of corruption.
“Police officers from the ZRP drive and park their own personal vehicles at checkpoints. In Redcliff and at ZimBeef or Carswell turn-off two police officers from ZRP were seen staging a checkpoint on their own,” said the report.
It said the controversial issue of spot-fines forced people to admit guilt when they were not to avoid being inconvenienced.
“The CoK police are paid money by shop owners operating without licences and vendors operating from undesignated points to allow them to continue operating hassle-free,” the report alleged.
“At some outlets selling food, liquor and beverages, these unprincipled CoK police officers enjoy free drinks and food.”
The report said SMEs that refused to pay bribes were often punished through a spate of exorbitant fines as had been demonstrated through two cases that were highlighted.
In the first case, the CoK police impounded a commuter omnibus and only released it upon payment of US$270. In another case, the CoK refused and/or neglected issuing a shop licence in violation of the Shop Licences Act, Chapter 14:17, which gave the City Police an opportunity to milk the SME of its hard-earned income.
“Many SMEs have been muscled out of business through the conduct of the CoK,” said the investigation.
“More shocking is the fact that proceeds of corruption are being used for personal enrichment and the research team was hinted on massive accumulation of wealth by ZRP police officers who drive posh private motor vehicles, commuter omnibuses of their own, and other forms of wealth such as houses”.