HARARE – Police running battles with errant commuter omnibus drivers was one of the topical issues in Parliament this week with legislators querying why the law enforcement agents were smashing kombi windscreens.
They argued that such actions resulted in the deaths of drivers, pedestrians and passengers.
Zanu PF MP for Mutasa South Irene Zindi started the debate in Parliament during minister’s question time asking the Home Affairs minister to clarify the matter.
“I need to find out what is the long-term policy by the ministry in resolving the running battles which are taking place between members of the police and the commuter omnibuses, smashing windscreens and in the process losing lives,” said Zindi.
Deputy minister of Home Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi defended the police action saying most of the commuter drivers were flouting road traffic laws.
“We don’t have a policy which says our police officers should smash windscreens. In terms of policy there is no policy like that. However, I want to say as a ministry, police look at case by case and deal with them according to due process as reported. The kombi drivers are flouting traffic laws and police will move in to enforce the law,” said Ziyambi.
He added that; “We know that our road infrastructure is not conducive because of the increase in traffic volumes, it is very difficult for our police officers to man the roads and effectively police our cities.
“As a result you will find here and there, they are mishaps which may happen, but we are taking all necessary efforts to ensure that our police officers carry out their duties according to the Constitution, ”said Ziyambi.
MDC MP Willas Madzimure urged Ziyambi to explain what action was being taken concerning the unprofessional behaviour of police in dealing with motorists at roadblocks.
“Minister, are you saying that you are not aware that police officers at roadblocks now stop cars using baton sticks? Are you not also aware or have not seen that almost all kombi windscreens are smashed? Are you denying that people have died because of the smashes and chases?” asked Madzimure.
Ziyambi said the police will be doing their jobs and people needed to report to police stations if they witness any cases of police smashing the windows or disrupting traffic movement on the roads.
The matter was raised again on Thursday by Senator Rorina Muchiwa and Chief Fortune Charumbira demanding explanation on the behaviour of police on the roads.
Ziyambi said commuter drivers were to blame as they were driving kombis without the required documentation and vehicle fitness certificates.
“Most of the times it is the commuter drivers who are causing the road accidents and the police are moving in to control the traffic chaos. I know that the kombi drivers are a mischievous lot as some of them are under-age drivers.
“However, if you see a road block with two police officers you should report it to nearest police station and we can check on the authenticity of the road block because we have not authorised a road block with less than three police officers,” said Ziyambi.
Ziyambi also defended the spot fines and said they were to continue as most of the motorists were giving false addresses to the police when asked for identification so that they can be issued with tickets to pay up their fines.
He said as the country prepares for the festive season many police details were going to be deployed on the roads to maintain order and their running battles with the commuter drivers was to intensify.
Nelson Chamisa MDC legislator asked whether the defence forces were also being taught to understand the Constitution to avoid violating human rights as the MPs were not happy with the way they were behaving.
“What is being done to equip our security forces in the context of the question that was asked by police to equip them with the Bill of rights and understanding the new constitution?”said Chamisa.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs said that his ministry was in the process of translating the Constitution into vernacular languages so that it can be understood by the public.
He said that they were also working on setting up multiple committees within his ministry to teach the public service and security forces on the new Constitution, but their efforts were hamstrung by lack of resources to carry out the programme.
Komichi granted appeal
Meanwhile, MDC Senator Morgan Komichi was granted leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence by High Court judge Amy Tsanga.
Komichi is a senior MDC member and the party’s deputy national chairperson.
He was being represented by Alec Muchadehama
Komichi was serving a community service sentence of performing 350 hours of community service at Mabelreign clinic.
He was convicted of breaching electorate act and fined $300.
The Senator was doing community service and had done four weeks of his sentence. During serving his sentence he was not attending parliamentary proceedings.
Komichi had stayed for three months in remand prison from July 28 to November 7, 2013.
While doing his community service he had to ask for time to attend the parliamentary sessions from the authorities who were supervising him at Mabelreign clinic.
Both houses adjourned to January 28, 2014.