THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is grossly under-resourced with serious vehicle shortages which are negatively impacting the day-to-day operations at police stations, thereby militating against efforts to fight rising crime.
By Herbert Moyo
This development is in sharp contrast to the luxury of senior police officers who have top-of-the-range vehicles at their disposal, some of which are lying idle. Officers from the rank of Assistant Commissioner have at least two vehicles, one of which is an off-roader.
Senior assistant commissioners commanding provinces or assigned to other duties also have a pool of cars, outside their official vehicles, for their use.
According to a report for the financial year ending December 31 2011 compiled by Comptroller and Auditor-General Mildred Chiri, the ZRP had 1 693 vehicles out of a requirement of 7 000.
“I noted with concern that the ZRP did not have adequate vehicles to effectively discharge its duties,” wrote Chiri in her report, adding that of the 1 693 vehicles, 400 cars were off the road awaiting repairs.
“As a result, most critical stations around the country were operating without vehicles including the Harare Traffic and Licence Inspectorate.”
Chiri further noted that the vehicle maintenance workshop constructed at Chikurubi nine years ago is still not fully operational due to government’s failure to provide US$483 000 required for electrification and acquisition of equipment.
Consequently, the police force is making huge losses outsourcing major repairs.
As if the shortage of vehicles is not enough, police officers in areas such as Kariba, Kadoma and Mutoko have to contend with overcrowding at the workplace as they are cramped into small offices, with instances where 10 officers share the same office.
Junior police officers, especially in remote areas, have to travel long distances, sometimes on foot, while on police duties.
Transport problems are also common in urban areas where the police often rely on complainants and informers to attend crime and accident scenes, and in some cases to track down criminals.
Recently the cash-strapped Zanu PF government upgraded the fleet of luxury vehicles for security sector bosses and top civil servants, most of whom played a crucial role in ensuring Zanu PF won the July 31 elections.
The government also splashed close to US$20 million on luxury cars including Mercedes-Benz and SUVs for 26 cabinet ministers, 13 ministers of state and 24 deputies.