Mthwakazi confronts police, minister over kombi siege

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

MTHWAKAZI Republic Party (MRP) has written a stinging letter to Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe and police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga complaining about what the secessionist party described as ”barbarism and terrorism” against private kombi operators in Bulawayo.

Police in the city have been accused of launching a ruthless crackdown on private kombi operators in a bid to stop them from plying city routes in violation of a government ban on private commuter transport.

Government has insisted those willing to operate should affiliate with the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco).

The unpopular policy direction has however created a shortage of transport in urban areas as the Zupco buses are failing to meet demand for public transport.

In a letter written to the two authorities and copied to Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, party leader Mqondisi Moyo described the police action as madness.

“I write this second letter to you because of another wave of madness by irresponsible police officers,” he said.

“On several occasions, I have witnessed your police officers who lack professionalism, smash windows of emergency taxis around 6th Avenue between Lobhengula and Herbert Chitepo streets, and in other places in Bulawayo.

“I have of late been receiving calls from many kombi owners and drivers registering their frustration with the barbarism of the members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police who have become law unto themselves.”

The firebrand opposition leader challenged the police to be professional and follow their charter when enforcing traffic and Covid-19 regulations.

“The conduct of your police officers on this operation leaves one skeptical about your policing standards.

“Police authority is only limited to arresting offending drivers, recording vehicle registration numbers, and even advising on the right conduct without necessarily causing damages to people’s properties,” said Moyo in the latter dated 26 November 2020.

He accused the police of pre-occupation with fighting kombi operators who are trying to earn an honest living while failing to attend to other important crime scenes.

“We even wonder where you are getting the fuel with which to race after these transport operators when you hardly respond to genuine reports of theft and murder brought to your attention by the public. You always cite lack of resources but when it comes to kombis, the resources are there,” said Moyo.

Moyo added, “We further demand to know why you, as ZRP and your irresponsible government of Zanu PF are forbidding the private Kombi operators to resume their normal operations in Bulawayo.

“Surprisingly, the so-called Zupco kombis and buses are now operating as private operators as they no longer observe Covid-19 regulations. What then justifies your barring of private operators from resuming their business?”

He continued, “Another observation is that most of our Ndebele kombi operators are not under ZUPCO due to the stringent conditions that made it difficult for them to register. How can the government become the monopolistic player in the transport industry?

“Is this not the same Zanu PF government which destroyed the original Zimbabwe United Passengers Company twenty years ago? Your ZUPCO vehicles lack capacity to meet transport needs of the public. And by the way, competition is healthy in a normal economy.”