Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Zimbabwean road blocks

TOP del.icio.us

I think someone would do quite well if they produced a map that showed where the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) hang out (aka road blocks) waiting to harass or cajole bribes out of Zimbabweans. So we can work out routes around them. The thing is the ZRP are really quite lazy so they tend to stay in the same spot rather than engaging any kind of element of surprise. For example, a group of ZRP camp out just past the last lights in Hatfield on the way to the airport. Their trick is to accuse motorists of jumping an orange light (like Natasha described recently). Knowing that you’re on your way to the airport the ZRP figure that you’ll just hand over a quick bribe because you want to fly, or meet a plane on time.

Truth be told the economy hasn’t revived and it’s hard making ends meet so our recent proliferation of road blocks isn’t anything to do with law and order, or keeping our roads safe, it’s about the ZRP supplementing their meagre wages. Of course there are also issues of control and aggression. A Zimbabwean recently emailed us his experience of being stopped at a road block on the way to Masvingo . . .

I just wonder what these roadblocks are serving; are they to safeguard Zimbabwe’s wealth or the Nation its self from thugs, robbers and killers?  I was driving to my rural home; we were three of us and we approached one of the roadblocks sited on the highway that goes to Masvingo. There was this vehicle, an Army vehicle that was parked right in the middle of the road. Those in the car were talking to this soldier who was at the roadblock laughing. In short the vehicle was blocking other road users. When I got there I stopped behind this Army vehicle and no one attended to me until I decided to use the other side that was not blocked to proceed with my journey. When I was about to go the Police Officer and three other Police Reserves, who were there, stopped me and I stopped.   They started accusing me of running away. I then asked them when I stopped (did you attend to me?). This soldier came shouting together with the Police Reserves saying (you wanted me not to talk to my boss and rush to attend to you?). I said we are both road users therefore I think if you had other issues to discuss you were supposed to park your vehicle outside the road to allow other road users to be attended to and proceed with their journey. The three of us were harassed and shouted at and the other solder was asked to bring the gun. I asked this soldier who he was ordering the gun for, were we civilians armed? What crime had we committed? These questions were not answered.  We then said that we understand is that all of the soldiers and policemen are there to protect civilians from thugs, robbers and to protect the country not to harass civilians. All I want the Nation to know is that a lot of harassment is going on at the roadblocks and why, nobody knows.

4 comments to “Zimbabwean road blocks”

  1. Comment by joe muumbe:

    This is the true that the police man are not of any help to our roads except lining their pockeets. Can the minister concernrd tell us the reason for so many road blocks. I went to Chipinge and i came across 19 road blocks from Harare at the following points. Ruwa, Goromonzi turn off, 5km from marondera town, Marondera -Dombotombo turn off, Macheke, Headlands, Rusape at the gum trees, Rusape at Tsanzaguru turn off, Nyazura, odzi, christmas pass, Opposite BP just after the pass, Mutare Poly, Zimunya turn off, Rowa, 22miles, Chimanimani turn off, chakohwa, Nyanyadzi, Hotsprings, Tanganda, Jopa ,Chipinge humps.

    My question is what are the use to have a roadblock in some cases hardly 10 km apart or in the same small town like Marondera and Rusape. Will there be enough manpower left at the Police camp or all policeman are now assigned to the traffic dept ?

    The cops in Chipinge they demand large somes of money up to 20 dollars. This is very unfair as compared to those between Mutare and Harare u can part with a dollar or at most two dollars.

  2. Comment by Nyasha:

    Your story has surfaced some angry feelings I had managed to suppress over the past few months that I have been away from Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe police are one of the MAJOR reasons I hate coming home for the holidays. The last time I came home for just two weeks, I had 3 serious run-in’s with the police…and I am not a criminal- well I dont think I am!

    Unfortunately, being out of the country for so long has often made me believe in silly things like ‘human rights’ , ‘due process’and ‘freedom of speech’ which are regarded as stubbornness and refusing to comply with sillyness.

    When I was stopped by the Hatfield road Airport police for ‘skipping a red light’ I admitted my guilt and the first thing they asked was what they should do with me???? I told them there was only one thing to do- FOLLOW THE LAW! Follow whatever procedures are set out for criminals who go through red lights… They reluctantly took me to Hatfield police station where they reluctantly took my fingerprints- all the while reminding me what SERIOUS consequences I would face (as if I had an alternative…hmmmm) so I kept reminding them that I had broken the law and therefore deserved whatever came my way- whether it was a ZWD$50 fine or a court hearing in three months! Finally, after over an hour of taking down my details one of the more annoyed officers dismissed me avery hastily!

    I guess you have to choose your battles. Fortunately, I had some time to spare that day but when you are in a hurry or KNOW you are being delayed for no apparent reason its easy to lose your cool and reach into your purse. If not…INSIST on due process.

  3. Comment by Tafadzwa:

    This is an area of activism. That is why the police have engendered feelings of hate, distate and disdain form the public. Let all road users for starters be well versed with the Road Traffic Act and its regulations so that you can speak authoritatively back to a police officer qouting the law. If you can, use your cellphone to record the conversation on your phone for you to then lodge a complaint with the complaints desk of the police and get a reference so that you will be able to persisit and follow up a complaint. Lastly i think those NGOs working with the Police should programme around this and raise a petition even.

  4. Comment by mzaya wa khule:

    can Kubatana please assist all road users by availing an electronic copy of the Road Traffic Act.so that we beat these people (ZRP) at their own game