The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) says it has arrested 123 corrupt officers this year and discharged more than 30 as it moves to clean its image tainted by years of unrestrained shady practices.
Police chief Augustine Chihuri vowed Thursday the police force will not rest until it rids itself of all dishonest elements.
“We utterly condemn any form of corruption, and shall continue to invoke the wrath of the law to completely destroy this cancerous social scourge,” Chihuri told a pass-out parade in Harare.
“Let me remind officers and members of the force that we have zero tolerance to corruption,”
He urged members of the public to report officers who demand kickbacks.
“All police officers should bear in mind that the general public deserve a full measure of police service from them,” Chihuri added.
Zimbabwean police are rated among the most corrupt in Southern Africa.
President Robert Mugabe took exception to ZRP's growing dubious distinction last week and urged law enforcement agents to be “straightforward.”
“Mapurisa, mapurisa, mapurisa! “We want you to be straightforward people. You are representatives not only of Government, but of the people as a whole,” Mugabe said at a Zanu PF conference.
“If you want to be paid to do your job, then you are practicing corruption and you cannot boast of having a well-disciplined police.
“Kumisa vanhu mumigwagwa. Mota yako haina mabreaks haungaende mberi kana uchida, bhadhara US$200 woenda, [You always stop motorists on the road and say your car has faulty brakes, you can’t proceed. If you want to go pay us US$200],” Mugabe added.
A report by the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACTSA) last month said corruption by the police was worsening.
The report, titled “Stealing from the State and Impoverishing the Nation: Zimbabwean Traffic Police Officers Pocketing Huge Sums of Money through Bribes at Checkpoints,” said “the sin of corruption is now deeply rooted to such an extent that the culprits are demanding bribes publicly as if it is normal to do so.”
The ACTSA blamed traffic cops for setting up unnecessary roadblocks along the country’s highways to maximize their bribe collections from motorists.
The anti-corruption watchdog urged government to “take appropriate action to arrest the situation since traffic police officers are pocketing huge sums of money that should have been significantly contributing to the national envelope and channeled towards national development.”
It also recommended the establishment of “an elite unit to monitor the operations of police officers.”