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Police morale hits rock bottom

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MORALE within the Zimbabwe Republic Police over staff welfare-related issues has reached its lowest ebb amid serious concern that service delivery will be compromised while corruption may reign supreme to justify survival, a Parliamentary committee has observed.

BERNARD MPOFU

Appalling working conditions due to limited funding from Treasury were cited as the main causes of the low standards of policing by the country’s law enforcement agents.

The Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services conducted an inquiry into the state of infrastructure and service delivery by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). 

The initiative was driven by concerns from members of the police aervice and the general public about poor service conditions which have led to the declining state of service delivery. This prompted the undertaking of the inquiry which culminated into a report compiled by the Parliamentary committee.

“The committee observed that the morale of officers across the entire police service was at its lowest ebb despite their demonstration of resilience and patriotism. Further procrastination of redress of the various challenges in the entire organisation has the potential of collapsing the policing system due to increased indiscipline and poor service delivery, reads the report titled: The State of Service Delivery and Infrastructure at Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) establishments which was submitted to Parliament this week.

“It was the Committee’s observation that the problems with the ZRP were double edged in nature, that is, internally and externally. On one hand the inquiry investigated thoroughly the factors that led to a surge in alleged cases of indiscipline among junior police officers, a dilemma which has a direct impact on the citizenry in terms of its constitutional rights and expectations from the police service. On the other hand, it did not neglect the views of the members of the police service in terms of their day to day functional prerequisites. The committee observed that the aforementioned state of affairs had the potential of compromising national security if left unaddressed.”

The committee concluded that most challenges faced by the ZRP are a result of underfunding and delayed release of funds by Treasury.

Commenting on institutional and housing accommodation, the committee noted that following the increase of the organisation’s human resources establishment to 50 000, the state of office accommodation in the organisation reached unacceptable levels with a deficit of 3 000 offices. 

“The dilapidated state of most of the offices across provinces, districts and stations further diminishes the public’s confidence in the organization’s service delivery capabilities. Most severely affected were rural stations where officers have now resorted to the use of tents, zinc and wooden cabins as offices,” the report says.

“The committee was petrified to note that the Zimbabwe Republic Police had an acute shortage of residential accommodation resulting in almost half of its active human resource residing in rented accommodation. The state of affairs was appalling and left officers vulnerable to being compromised by some sections of the society. Current statistics reflected that, out of the human resource strength of 44 687 only 26 398 police officers resided in police camps. In most cases, a single house was shared by three families resulting in overcrowding. An estimated total of 19 999 police officers resided out of camp which affected the effectiveness and efficiency of police operations.”

The level of dilapidation of the existing residential infrastructure, the report noted,  further compounds the dire situation.

“In some serious cases, horse stables and prisoners’ cells have been converted into rooms currently occupied by desperate police officers. The committee even noted that some members of the police deployed on specific operations used corridors for temporary accommodation while others slept in offices. Over and above that, most ablution facilities in the establishments were on the verge of collapse while at some stations they were non-existent,” the reports further reads.

“Some members of the police service do not wear the prescribed ZRP uniform due to the nature of their duties. They use plain clothing. The committee was very disturbed to note that a paltry ZWL$15.00 was paid as an allowance towards clothing. The allowance currently pays for nothing less than a banana. Like in many other such scenarios, members of the police service were forced to dig deep into their pockets to buy clothing for use during the course of their work.”

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