ZIMBABWE has for over two decades faced serious socio-economic and political problems. It’s listed as a fragile state by the Fragile States Index (FSI). This is due to continued economic decay, smuggling of precious minerals, illegal foreign currency trade, corruption and violent crimes such as armed robbery.
Fragility is closely associated with economic malaise and high crime levels. This is the trend in Zimbabwe where armed robbery cases are on the increase.
Unfortunately, some lives have been lost during violent armed robberies especially in Harare. Some of the notorious armed gangs led by Musa Taj Abdul and Charles Lundu have been jailed for close to 10 years each. Other armed robbers are on the run.
But despite the police and courts efforts, the robbers seem undeterred. Just this month, gun-toting thieves have been targeting companies and homes. A company in Msasa lost about US$300 000 while another, a fuel firm in Southerton, was robbed of US$380 000.
Some individuals were raided and lost thousands of United States dollars.
What is apparent in these cases is that companies and individuals are not banking their money, mainly because there is no trust between the transacting public and the financial sector after monetary and fiscal authorities made policies which caused losses. Some people never recovered.
Hence, many Zimbabweans opt to keep the money in their offices or homes.
This should remind the government and the central bank to implement measures that restore confidence in the banking sector. Policy consistency is key as flip-flopping by authorities erodes trust.
But as the crime rate increases, it also shows that the economic challenges facing Zimbabweans can fuel the armed robbery cases. This used to be a South African headache but in recent months, it’s difficult to feel safe as marauding gangs can ruthlessly pounce on a home or company.
The police should step up its fight against gun crimes to protect citizens. Those arrested, where there is sufficient evidence before the courts, deserve deterrent jail sentences.
While granting armed robbers bail is a constitutional right, under the prevailing circumstances, such suspects have to be kept under lock and key for the safety of Zimbabweans.
The government has to allocate more resources to the police, especially vehicles and other essentials. In many cases, citizens report cases but police may delay to respond due to transport problems. This has to change.
Above all, the fragile economy must be fixed.
The runaway inflation which has eroded workers incomes, high unemployment levels, rampant public and private sector corruption as well as smuggling of precious minerals such as gold and diamond need urgent attention.
Armed robbers have become a national security concern. It’s time to viciously fight the criminals.