HARARE – Zimbabwean motorists have launched a campaign against “abuse” by the police on the country’s roads, with the road users planning to petition Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo.
So far, the petition by the Road Users Association (RUA) Zimbabwe on March 22 has got 3 012 signatures by yesterday afternoon out of a target of 5 000.
In the petition, RUA said, the campaign was created to ask Chombo and the police to ensure that every member of the force upholds the Constitution.
“Have you been mistreated by ZRP at a roadblock? Over the years, we have witnessed our constitutional freedoms and rights being infringed upon.
“Furthermore, many have experienced harassment, intimidation and the incorrect application of the law by the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” the petition reads.
“As the situation continues to deteriorate across the country we need genuine reform within the ZRP.
“We respectfully ask the minister of Home Affairs, … Chombo and the commissioner-general of the ZRP, … Augustine Chihuri to ensure that every member of the ZRP upholds the constitutional freedoms and rights of all Zimbabweans, respect the rule of law and fulfil their mandate to serve and protect the citizens of Zimbabwe.”
Motorists also complained on the RUA website about how they had been harassed by the police, with one Bettina Kelly saying her family was relocating from Zimbabwe as a result of the abuse.
“Have been harassed more than once, the one time they even wanted to arrest me for no reason and kept me at a roadblock for over an hour.
“We are moving away from Zimbabwe, due to this nonsense. They don’t seem to understand that this chases tourism and potential visitors away,” Kelly wrote.
RUA is also spearheading a Constitutional Court application against ill-treatment by members of the police force.
The organisation is also calling for people to submit affidavits sharing their experiences at roadblocks.
“Let us prove to the Con-Court that the illegal treatment of motorists is a national issue, that citizens across Zimbabwe are affected.
“We invite motorists who have had a first-hand experience of being treated unfairly, from all areas of Zimbabwe and across all demographics, to come forward.
“RUA’s legal representatives will assist you with the paperwork, at no cost. Register your interest in submitting an affidavit,” the organisation said.
This comes as the presence of police on the country’s roads has been blamed for diminishing number of tourists who visit the country.
According to a report released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) recently, 10 000 tourists complained about the police — with 500 of them promising never to return to the country again, citing harassment by law enforcement agents.