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Dealing with unprofessional ZRP checkpoints

Zimbabwean police inspect motorists at a roadblock near Harare on April 1, 2008. By Alexander Joe (AFP/File)

Sadly, not all members of the ZRP have adopted the professional service ethic that Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga is encouraging. We are receiving reports of unprofessional “roadblock-era” behaviour, involving harassment of female drivers on their own. This often occurs in remote, isolated areas where perhaps the members feel they are “untouchable”. Here is my advice on how to prove them wrong …

Visit the local police station

Invest time to visit the Officer Commanding at the police station the ZRP checkpoint is operating from. Request his/her name, rank and cell number. Every region has a TRAFFIC DISPOL, who has overall responsibility for the traffic policing within his/her region. Request his/her name, rank and cell number. Store both contacts in your phone.

Mention these names to the members at the problem checkpoint and you’ll almost always see an attitude adjustment for the better.

Install a dashboard camera

Unprofessional mischief usually occurs where the offending ZRP member feels he/she cannot be identified. A dashboard camera, or “dash cam” immediately overcomes this perception. As we saw during the roadblock-era, motorists using a dash cam experienced less harassment and greater respect. However, if you use a dash cam it is essential that you know how to use it, ESPECIALLY the ability to replay the footage, on request! (With the selfish and negligent driving that has become the norm on our roads and in town, and the dishonest reporting of accidents, dash cams have even more merit. A subject for another time …).

Report offenders to PGHQ

There is a genuine effort, under the leadership of Commissioner-General Matanga, to create a professional police service. We all agree that offensive behaviour by members of ZRP has no place in the current environment. Therefore, motorists can expect a positive response when reporting unprofessional behaviour at PGHQ, Harare (Tel: 024-2703631). However, do expect to have to follow up … request a report number and the name/rank of everyone you deal with.

Facebook group Dear ZRP is always available to report behaviour at ZRP checkpoints, both negative and positive.

Finally, remember that your own attitude and behaviour has a direct influence on the outcome at a ZRP checkpoint. Display the same polite behaviour that you expect to receive and 9 times out of 10 the encounter will be peaceful and amicable.

Safe travel,

Sean Quinlan

Big Sky Supplies, Managing Director

Dear ZRP, Admin

Road Users Association, Co-founder

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FINANCE MINISTER PROPOSES $700 TRAFFIC FINES – BIG SKY’S VIEWS

FINANCE MINISTER PROPOSES $700 TRAFFIC

In his 2019 Budget Speech, Finance & Economic Minister Mthuli Ncube proposed a number of measures affecting motorists.

Amongst others, the minister proposed increasing the maximum traffic fine to $700 and imprisonment up to 12 months. (Readers should appreciate the budget is a list of proposals, which will have to be considered by parliament before becoming law).

We can be grateful that government has acknowledged the carnage and state of chaos on the countries roads, and that it cannot be allowed to continue. However, with memories of the trauma inflicted on motorists during the roadblock era still fresh in our minds, we will expect the current government to comply with the laws of the country before implementing any changes.

Paragraph 879 of the 2019 National Budget Statement: “In order to promote road safety culture by adhering to road traffic regulations, the Budget proposes that any person who commits such offenses be liable to fines of levels 8 to 10, which attract a maximum fine of US$700 and imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.”

To legitimatise this measure, government has homework to do, including:

Amend the Road Traffic Act (RTA): Section 81(5) of the RTA says that the maximum fine that the regulations may provide for is level five. An amendment through an Act of Parliament is required, followed by an amendment to the relevant regulations, enacted by the Minister of Transport & Infrastructure.

Amend the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CP&EA): Sections 141 and 356 will require amendment to increase the deposit fine level above level three. (These provisions of the Act apply to any offences, not just traffic offences).

Revise the Schedule of Deposit Fines: The Schedule must list the various road traffic offences and the appropriate fines, clearly indicating which fines may be imposed by a member of ZRP versus by a magistrate following a court appearance. We trust the state will differentiate between life threatening offences and the trivial, and set the fines accordingly. To prevent roadside shenanigans, the Schedule must be readily identifiable (dated and on official stationery, etc.).

 The above will legitimise Minister Ncube’s proposals, however we will also request that the payment of fines be efficient and user friendly. For several months now, motorists have been greatly inconvenienced by the non-availability of receipt books and swipe facilities in police stations. These are only available in the least accessible and most inconvenient locations …

In conclusion, motorists should ignore recent misleading lists of fines appearing in the social media. Until government successfully makes the required amendments, the MAXIMUM fine that can be imposed without a court appearance, remains $30. (The current Schedule of Deposit Fines, effective August, 2017, can be downloaded from Facebook group Dear ZRP/Files).

With acknowledgement to the contributors whose advice I rely on, we hope your readers will find this clarification useful.

Kind regards … Sean

MD Big Sky

Pomona Shopping Centre

”WE PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR JOURNEY”