HARARE – Zimbabwe is conducting a training programme for police officers to smile more habitually at roadblocks in the hopes of winning over tourists visiting the country’s holiday resorts.
Home Affairs deputy minister Obedingwa Mguni told the National Assembly that Zimbabwe’s hospitality agency is conducting training sessions to make police friendlier toward visitors.
Mguni was responding to a question by MDC MP for Chitungwiza North Godfrey Sithole who wanted to know the progress police had made in the reduction of roadblocks.
He said “notable” movement had been made so far especially on the Bulawayo-Harare and Harare-Masvingo highways.
“The problem now is the attitude of the officers. They (tourism stakeholders) are happy with the reduction of roadblocks and they now want to change the attitude of the officers.
“We made a deal that Zimbabwe Tourism Association will help us in training our police force. We have one group that has gone through. Other groups are also going to be trained.
“I think we cannot completely do away with police on the road. There should be visibility but now we need to change the officers’ attitude. They have to go for client diplomatic service.
“When we hear the motorists saying that the roadblocks are too much, we go and check. We are still in the process. We will not stop until everybody is satisfied,” Mguni said.
International tourists and local motorists have complained of too many roadblocks which they said had become extortionate.
Parliament and tourism associations have also added their voices to the issue with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last month calling Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo to have dialogue with his Tourism counterpart Walter Mzembi, to try and find a lasting solution to the roadblocks menace.
In its half year end report on roadblocks, a copy which is in the hands of the Daily News, police made nearly $14 million while also complaining that their many roadblocks had increased to the extent of making them fail to meet daily targets.
For those first six months of 2017, police made a million arrests for various traffic offences.