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.