HARARE – Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa was on-point when he ordered Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and his Tourism counterpart Walter Mzembi to urgently meet and address concerns raised over numerous police roadblocks.
Mnangagwa on Tuesday said he was aware that the issue of roadblocks has been raised by a number of tourists.
In underlining government commitment to the free movement of tourists and the need to ensure their safety, he urged the two ministries to sit down to determine how the need for the safety and movement of tourists can be guaranteed.
This was after at least 10 000 tourists had complained about the numerous police roadblocks in Zimbabwe and the rough treatment they received at the hands of the uniformed forces.
While the role of the police in maintaining peace and security is appreciated, the presence of so many police officers on the road projects an image of high risk and insecurity, components which do not auger well for Zimbabwe’s brand.
Over the past few years, there have been complaints over the ever-increasing number of roadblocks and the extortionist tendency of some officers manning the checkpoints, but nothing has changed. In fact, the roadblocks have risen in number in the past few months.
What makes this situation very irking is that the numerous complaints are coming from a diverse section of the public among them motorists, passengers, tourists, tourism players and business organisations.
Legislators and some government officials have also added their voices, making the roadblock issue a national concern.
As such, government must come up with a strategy that strikes a balance between policing and the need to increase tourist arrivals, because, as it stands, the two are working at variance.
Zimbabwe needs all the tourists it can get to improve its battered economy and tattered brand, and government cannot afford to be this indifferent on a matter that keeps on being raised.
Not only are these police officers a menace to tourists but are also a threat to local motorists and one would be forgiven for thinking government’s silence on illegal spot fines and copious roadblocks proves this is a fund-raising initiative.
The time is now ripe for government and other concerned stakeholders to put an end to this madness that is threatening the ease of doing business in the country.
The success of the tourism sector is largely a function of related ministries such as Home Affairs, and Transport and Infrastructural Development. It is, therefore, important that these ministries play their part in a way that enhances business.