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SA rejects Zim border passes

Source: NewsDay

Author: Nqobani Ndlovu

 

South African immigration officials have reportedly stopped accepting border passes used by Beitbridge residents to cross into the neighbouring country in a move believed to be a hit-back at Zimbabwe’s decision to ban imports of South African-manufactured basic goods.

The Senate Thematic Committee on Peace and Security learnt of the new measures during a recent visit to Beitbridge Border Post to “get a more comprehensive understanding of the problems there”.

The committee also visited Plumtree Border Post.

“It was also submitted to the committee that sometimes buses bring in undocumented persons from South Africa and that the South African authorities do not accept temporary travel documents and border passes anymore,” committee chairperson Damian Mumvuri told the Senate last week.

“This has caused problems at the border post as those denied entry into South Africa are found loitering on the Zimbabwean side,” Mumvuri said.

Border passes are used mainly by residents staying close to the country’s borders to cross the borderline on a weekly or even daily basis to study, work, shop and visit family members.

Mumvuri bemoaned the porosity of the border post, which he said had caused the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to lose a lot of potential revenue.

“There is rampant smuggling by cyclists and the rate of compliance with regulations is very low. Smuggling of hazardous substances like fuel and the abuse of rebates were noted as prevalent,” he said.

Mumvuri called on government to put in place “stringent” and “robust” measures, among others, to stamp out rampant corruption and smuggling at the border post.

“The committee realises that there is a greater need to address the problem of porous borders and weak border control and management mechanisms in order to ensure sustainable revenue generation at ports of entry and also stamp out effectively the problem of both human and goods smuggling.

“Adequate resources have to be availed to the relevant departments by Treasury to ensure peace and security is secured in and around Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe recently banned importation of several South African-made goods in a bid to protect local industries, but the move triggered violent protests at Beitbridge Border Posts as cross-border traders felt the ban would further impoverish them.


Constitutional court in landmark ruling on ZBC licenses

Source: NewsDay Zimbabwe

 

The Constitutional Court has delivered a landmark ruling on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Services (Zbc) licensing saga ordering every citizen to pay the broadcaster’s license fees irrespective of the service provider one may select to use.

The court ruled that citizens were not being asked to pay for the services provided for by Zbc but the legislature came up with the law compelling all citizens possessing gadgets capable of receiving radio and television signals, to pay tax for possessing such gadgets.

The judgment was delivered in a matter involving Bernard Wekare and Musangano Lodge who were both challenging the compulsory payment of Zbc licenses arguing it was in violation of the country’s Constitution since citizens were being forced to pay for services they did not want to watch or listen to.


Military escort for trucks on Beira road

Source: The Herald

 

MAPUTO. — Mozambique’s army will escort trucks travelling a 270-kilometre stretch of road that passes through territory held by militias aligned with the opposition Renamo party, an industry body said.

Last week, two people were killed and 12 cargo trucks burned on National Road 7, a key artery linking Mozambique’s port of Beira to landlocked Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

While the military convoys offer protection, they also double travel time and increase costs for haulers, according to Castigo Nhamane, head of the Mozambican Federation of Road Transport, or Fematro.

“A trip that lasted two days before now can last twice as long because the convoys leave during a certain period only,” Nhamane said by phone.

“We urge the political leadership to resolve this issue. Carriers are struggling to pay back bank credit contracted for business. We can’t pay the wages of our workers.”

Iron-ore producer Vale SA said two trains on the Sena rail line in the north-western Tete province were shot at last week. Two people were injured in the incident, it said in an e-mailed statement.

Renamo resumed an insurgency against the government in 2013, two decades after it ended a civil war against the country’s ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique. The latest round of conflict has left more than 300 people dead, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a project run by the University of Sussex in the UK that draws statistics from reports by the media, humanitarian agencies and other groups.

The rebel movement led by Afonso Dhlakama has said attacks will persist on civilian vehicles that are used for military logistics.

The government has said the strikes seek to destabilise the nation’s transport sector.

A joint commission including representatives of President Filipe Nyusi and Dhlakama have met in the past two weeks to prepare the terms of reference for the resumption of talks aimed at ending the conflict.

Fematro says it doesn’t have statistics on how many trucks have come under attack since the violence began in 2013, but that there has been an escalation in the number of incidents in the past few months.

“No one is going to pay for the damages, not the government nor the other party,” Nhamane said. — Bloomberg.


Chihuri outfoxes Parliament

POLICE Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri yesterday failed to appear before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport after he was summoned to explain the heavy police presence on most roads and the controversy surrounding payment of spot fines.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

 

Committee chairperson Dextor Nduna (Zanu PF Chegutu West MP) confirmed the development, saying the police chief had gone for a security briefing with President Robert Mugabe.

“The Commissioner-General has apologised for his non-attendance today (yesterday) and we have interrogated the issue with Parliament administration,” he said.

“We will have to schedule another day for the hearing because Chihuri gives briefs to the Head of State President Robert Mugabe every Monday morning and so he could not attend the committee meeting.”

The issue of spot fines has become an emotive one, with motorists complaining that they are charged for frivolous road crimes, while others say the heavy police presence on most roads was distracting traffic flow.

National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba last week said that they were planning to reduce the number of roadblocks, but insisted spot fines would remain in place to curb lawlessness on the roads.


Govt must address chaos at Beitbridge Border Post

Source: The Herald

 

Thupeyo Muleya Senior Reporter
People visiting Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (zimra) offices across the country are welcomed by banners at the reception inscribed “We Are Here To Serve” and workers wearing T-shirts inscribed “I am not corrupt’’. Psychologically, this prepares the visitors for an on-the-dot type of service, which sadly, is yet to be witnessed since zimra’s inception in 2001.

The messages at the parastatal’s offices are also a common feature at the country’s ports of entries.

However, besides displaying those motivating messages, travellers concur that zimra has become a nightmare for importers and exporters because of the treatment they get at the country’s border posts, especially in Beitbridge.

Congestion at Beitbridge Border Post is largely blamed on zimra.

It is understood that 95 percent of cargo transported in the region by road is delayed by up to three days at Beitbridge, increasing transport costs by about $500 per truck per day.

The congestion results in $200 million loss in production, tourism traffic and revenue annually.

An average of 14 000 travellers and 600 in-bound haulage trucks access the border post per day.

The numbers have nosedived in the past two years as importers and travellers opt for other ports of entry or means of transport to avoid the chaos at Beitbridge.

However, zimra says most of the delays are a result of human resource shortages.

zimra Beitbridge has a staff complement of 307 workers against a requirement of 526. This manpower shortage has contributed to rising cases of extortion and rent-seeking behaviour.

People spend long hours trying to clear their goods with zimra, amid reports of a casual approach to business by officials.

At Beitbridge, customs officers at the red route zone (where people with goods to declare are assisted), popularly known as Kugomba, top the list of inefficiency and arrogance with travellers bearing the brunt of the atrocious service.

Further, lack of specialisation among customs officers, who are transferred regularly has created more problems than solutions for travellers.

In addition the mercenary attitude among border officials has contributed to the collapse of standards.

For instance, the volume of travellers who accessed the country through Beitbridge Border Post in December last year was down by 42 percent compared to the same period in 2014.

This is attributed to the depreciation of the South African rand and that other travellers now prefer the less busy Plumtree and Mpeongs border posts.

Many taskforce teams have been to the border post on fact finding missions but the situation has not changed.

It is high time Government walks the talk and address the rot at the border post to maximise revenue collection.

Government should have a deliberate policy, where names of all border officials are printed on their uniforms for ease of identification to arrest corruption. At the moment they tend to conceal name tags.

Furthermore, zimra must open more cash points within the border so that people have their goods assessed for duty and pay the levies at the same point. At the moment people have to hop from one counter to another, causing delays for importers.

The Government collects an average of $2 million at Beitbridge Border Post from zimra alone, excluding money from tourists’ visas, haulage trucks coupons, New Limpopo Bridge toll fees, permits and licences and it boggles the mind why they fail to deploy adequate staff.

On the other hand, zimra has been complaining about accommodation woes for its staff when they can afford to splash millions on vehicles and housing loans for their top brass.

Analysts believe that lack of co-ordination and accountability at the border posts has created a lot of room for inefficiency.

Cabinet, however, recently approved the setting up of the National Ports Authority (NPA) to co-ordinate operations and to attend to challenges at Zimbabwe’s ports of entry.

South Africa has such an authority, making it easy to deal with operational and administrative issues.

The proposed NPA will fall under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development and be tasked with running all of the country’s entry and exit points.

It is believed the authority will address operations, administration, security and health, among other issues.

Stakeholders at the border posts include the Department of Immigration, insurance companies, police, Ministries of Health, Environmental Management Authority, Forestry Commission, transport, Veterinary Services, agriculture and private security companies.

The NPA should have enough funds to expand borders such as Beitbridge, where infrastructure is also a challenge. It is sad zimra is the leading agency in terms of infrastructure maintenance and ownership, though most of the problems at our borders emanate from the same organisation.

This is very awkward situation as travellers will be complaining to the same organisation about its services.

Ministries of finance, foreign affairs, and transport and home affairs should expedite full implementation of the one-stop border post concept between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Bogus customs clearing agents, beggars, touts, conmen have also contributed to the madness at Beitbridge Border Post.

The Government must also set up an accreditation body for customs clearing agents and freight forwarders, which would go a long way in addressing issues such as corruption.

 


Police dismiss social media cash hoax

Source : The Herald 

Crime Reporter

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has dismissed as false, reports circulating on social media that it is an offence for any person to be found carrying more than $200. In a statement, police chief spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said some criminals were already taking advantage of this hoax doing rounds on WhatsApp platform. “The Zimbabwe Republic Police would like to dispel a false WhatsApp message which is being peddled to the effect that no one is allowed to carry cash in excess of US$200.

 

“The Reserve bank of Zimbabwe has disassociated itself from this WhatsApp message, which has been sent by mischievous elements with criminal intent to cause confusion in the country. Criminals are already taking advantage of this hoax WhatsApp message,” she said.

 

Snr Asst Comm Charamba said no one was allowed to search any household or vehicle acting on the strength of this false WhatsApp message.

“No one is allowed to search any household or vehicle acting on the strength of this false WhatsApp message, which in part is related to a Statutory Instrument that was in force during the Zimbabwe dollar era. The Zimbabwe Republic Police would like to warn perpetrators of falsehoods that the long arm of the law will catch up with them,” she said.

She said anyone who was subjected to this harassment should report to any nearest police station or the National Complaints Desk on (04) 703631.

 


Police to cut roadblocks

Source : The Herald

Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter—

Police say they will soon reduce the number of roadblocks following complaints from motorists over their increased presence on the roads. In a statement yesterday, police chief national spokesperson

Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba urged Zimbabweans to alert the ZRP whenever they feel there are too many roadblocks in their area. “The Zimbabwe Republic Police has taken note of the roadblock concerns. Measures are now in place to trim these roadblocks. We appeal to the public to advise the police if they feel that a certain road or point has too many roadblocks,” she said.

 

“Be that as it may, it is unfortunate that people always associate police roadblocks with traffic issues, yet there are other issues such as the security of the country, maintenance of law and order, which are considered when roadblocks are mounted,” she said. Snr Asst Comm Charamba said the police recently busted a syndicate that was smuggling gold and other valuables out of the country.

“At times roadblocks are mounted for security reasons, crime detection, prevention and investigations.

They are also mounted at a place where the police officers can be seen clearly by the motorists, not on the curve or blind rise sites. Above all, they are mounted at anytime, including during the night,” she said.

 

Asst Comm Charamba urged the public to feel free to approach their local police station whenever they think they needed a roadblock at a particular spot at night. She said anyone forced to pay a spot fine for a nonexistent law should immediately lodge a complaint in writing at any nearest police station or call the Police General Headquarters Complaints Desk on (04)703 631.

 

On Stop Signs, Snr Asst Comm Charamba said the Highway Code was very clear on how a motorist should approach such signs. “All licensed drivers who were tested by relevant authorities and endorsed to be competent are expected to be conversant with all traffic rules and regulations including how to approach road signs and junctions.

“There is no excuse whatsoever for a driver to disregard the provision of a stop sign and a giveway sign. These two signs have different meanings. Stop and make sure both sides are clear. Some motorists acquired licences dubiously hence they are not conversant with road rules and regulations,” she said.

 

Snr Asst Comm Charamba said it was an offence for any motorist to carry people for a fee in a private motor vehicle not registered to carry passengers. She said police are clamping down on pirate taxis and 500 such vehicles were impounded in the past three months in Harare and Bulawayo.

“It is unfortunate that people complain when police raid these vehicles yet when such vehicles are impounded their owners go to courts, the vehicles are released and they find their way back into the

CBD. Police will continue to take action against these errant motorists.

“Police and other stakeholders are also analysing the current legislation which fails to adequately address so many shortcomings, for example, the passengers who wait at undesignated points and promoting mushikashika are not legally accountable,” she said. On media coverage of the ZRP, Snr

 

Asst Comm Charamba said police were firmly on the ground conducting awareness campaigns.

“However, sometimes the media appear not to be interested in publicising these campaigns which are aimed at educating and conscientising the public on how to prevent crime, take safety measures to curb crime such as robbery, murder, unlawful entry and even rape.

“Press statements issued to the media houses are not normally covered and campaigns receive minimal attention. It is unfortunate that public relations programmes conducted by the Zimbabwe

Republic Police have been ignored,” she said. Snr Asst Comm Charamba said police programmes could only be effective when there was a supportive media.


Zinara unveils $1,7m road survey fund

Source: NEWSDAY

Author: DESMOND CHINGARANDE

 

The Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) yesterday unveiled $1,7 million for a roads condition survey to determine the level of service and maintenance required.

 

Speaking at the survey launch in Harare, Zinara acting chief executive Moses Juma, said the country last conducted a national roads condition survey in 1999.

“There have been various figures flying around as to the cost of rehabilitation of the country’s road network.

“Most of these figures have had no scientific background due to the lack of credible data,”Juma said.

The 1999 survey revealed that Zimbabwe’s road network covered 95 000 kilometres, with 20% surfaced, 10% under urban councils and 70% under the District Development Fund and rural councils.

Juma reiterated that the survey would help in coming up with credible data on the state of the country’s road network.

Officials in the Transport ministry said ideally, such surveys should be conducted every four years.


‘Criminalised for driving in Harare’

Written By: Garikai Mazara

Image by: Kudakwashe Hunda

May 29, 2016

It was a routine journey, the usual 15km or so drive from Glen Norah to Harare’s central business district. All things being equal, this is a 30-minuter for me, from stepping into the car to walking into the office.

Not last Thursday. It wasn’t usual as usual.

After past encounters with law enforcement agents, the police in particular, I have tried my best to make sure my very modest jalopy, a ‘90s pick-up, looks the part when it comes to abiding by the rules and regulations of the road.

So when a police officer flagged me down I didn’t hesitate to hand over my driver’s licence when he asked for it, because I knew that my car, despite being a ‘90s model, was Y2K-compliant.

Fire extinguisher (which is serviced, as per their language), check. Jack, check. Wheel spanner, check. Spare wheel, check. Red breakdown triangles, check. Reflective vest, check.

And I thought I was good to go.

I have read and heard several complaints about police attitudes at road blocks, discussed several of these with my fellow drivers, either over a drink or at the office.

And given past experiences, I have always tried to make sure that I don’t waste any of my precious time with the officers at a road block, so my vehicle is always up to date with all mechanicals and electricals.

The cop made another round. Nothing. A second one. Silence.

Then he came to my door. “Your third number plate has been tampered with,” he said calmly, probably tyring his best poker face.

He asked me to come to the front of the car and see for myself.

After a spate of encounters over the “tampered with third number plate” almost three years ago, I had applied for a replacement third plate.

My folly then, as it turned out last Thursday, was that I stuck the new plate exactly on the same spot where the previous plate had been.

The result is that the new third number plate sits on the remains, rather stains, of the previous plate. I thought this was simple enough for the officer to appreciate, because the stains from the previous plate were visible.

Not so for this uniformed fellow. According to the rule book, he told me, I was in violation of the law and should pay a US$20 spot fine.

As much as I was shocked by the alleged offence, the fine was even more shocking.

Given the previous encounters I have had with traffic police, encounters which have always cost me time and money, I have tried to make sure that my pick-up is always in sound shape.

I have done all electricals; to include the number plate light, the reverse lights, the headlights, the hooter. And even the gross vehicle mass display on the side. Not to mention the “honeycomb” reflectors which I was once fined for, because mine were not “honeycomb”.

And after replacing the third number plate, because it had been “tampered with”. Now this.

I genuinely didn’t have the US$20 fine. If I had, I would have paid – never mind that I felt an injustice was unfolding. Previous encounters have taught me that you simply can’t win with police at road blocks. Just pay and go, even as you protest.

Because I had no money, I sat in my car for an hour before I was asked to go and park my car at Mbare Police Station. I was told I would only get it back after paying US$20.

He gave me his name as Sergeant Chagweda.

He said when I got the money, I should either phone or look him up at the road block.

Three hours later, US$20 in my pocket, I headed back to the road block. Imagine my astonishment when I was told that the fine had somehow reduced to US$15. This was after I told Sgt Chagweda that I had found US$15.

My folly; I should have told him I had scraped together US$10. Perhaps that would have been the new fine.

Having asked a friend to drive me to the road block and then to Mbare Police Station to collect my vehicle, I thanked him for helping at such short notice. With the white ticket in hand, I thought it was going to be as easy as ABC to collect my vehicle.

In the charge office, which had been our last stop when we left the vehicle, I produced the ticket and informed them I had come to collect my car.

“Proceed to the Traffic Section where they will record that you paid the fine and then come back here,” the officer informed me.

It was around lunch hour when I walked into the Traffic Section, and the good men and women of the law were having their drinks and buns.

I was told to go back to the road block and bring the officer who had fined me. He was the one to process the release of my vehicle.

“Let’s see the ticket. It must National Traffic who send people here to collect their cars. Who should do their work for them? They think we are here to work for them?” the police officer rhetorically asked me and her colleagues.

Another was not long in concurring: “He must go back and have the officer who served him to come and release his car, it is not our duty here.”

My mind was now super-active. My friend had gone. I didn’t have money, even for a kombi, to take me back to the road block.

As I was eating myself over this, the first officer, after finishing her lunch, walked out. Several moments later she came back with another officer in tow who seemed to be in charge of the Traffic Section.

He looked me up and down, then asked the officer to process the release of my car.

“But this should be the last one we are processing for today; those guys (at road blocks) should come and finish their work. They think we should be working for them,” this as she filled in some large book.

Some 10 or so minutes later, I was out, car keys in hand.

I was happy that I had my car back.

But I still can’t shirk off the feeling that it seems somehow illegal to drive your car on Zimbabwe’s road. 


Space-saver spare wheels

The issue of space-saver spare wheels is currently the most abused section of Statutory Instrument 129/2015.

 

Sect. 53 (1) (a) states the spare wheel must be serviceable, in the same way a fire extinguisher must be serviceable. If your spare wheel is inflated, has sufficient tread and is suitable for use, ZRP should accept it.


However ZRP is applying Sect. 14 (6) (a) No person shall drive on any road a vehicle if - (a) any tyres on any one axle of the vehicle are of a different size or type or construction. 

Which would be the case if the space-saver tyre was being USED in the event of an emergency. In practice, while the space-saver is stored in its compartment, the motorist is complying with both Sect. 14 and Sect. 53.

 

ZRP's stated objective is to reduce road carnage. Enforcing the use of full size spare wheels in vehicles that are not designed to accommodate them is counter-productive. Unsecured spare wheels become missiles in the event of an accident. Ditto for modern vehicles with "run-flat' tyres that have no accommodation for spare wheels.

What should happen:

ZRP Traffic HQ should urgently instruct personnel at every check point across the country to stop penalising motorists for carrying a piece of equipment that is accepted across the world for use in emergencies, and is forcing motorists to carry unsecured and highly dangerous alternatives.

Of relevance is the exact requirements for Tyres appeared in SI 154/2010, (implemented in 2011); and appear UNCHANGED in SI 129/2015.

THE SPACE SAVER SPARE WHEEL HAS BEEN ACCEPTED SINCE 2011. WHY NOT NOW?

In the absence of positive intervention by Traffic HQ, we should expect:
1. The motor vehicle industry to engage the Ministry of Transport to make provision for space-savers and run-flats. They’re here to stay and the statutory gazette will have to be amended.
2. The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe to intervene in the interest of preventing deaths as a result of unsecured spare wheels being carried in passenger compartments.
 


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