LEADER of government business in Parliament Ziyambi Ziyambi says the Zimbabwe Republic Police is well-resourced, which completely contradicts information in the public record, as the police service has been pleading with Parliament to push for an upward review of its budget allocation, saying the inadequate funding is crippling law enforcement operations.
The police have been incapacitated, impacting on efficiency, particularly in remote areas.
For instance, the level of incapacitation was revealed a fortnight ago, after the service failed to avail body bags for deceased victims of a head-on collision along on Gwanda Road, sparking public outrage.
This week in Parliament, after being quizzed by Mutare North MP Admire Mahachi on the government’s policy on the welfare of the police force, which includes accommodation, uniforms and access to health facilities, Ziyambi said the government has improved in ramping up the operations of the security sector.
“What is government policy with regards to the welfare of our police force? There is the Provincial Headquarters for Manicaland Province. There is Murehwa Building that is no longer fit to be used as offices for police officers as it has a leaking roof. We would want to know what steps the government is taking to refurbish police stations and police camps that were built using wood so that they can be built using bricks, such as is the case with Marange Police Station,” Mahachi asked.
“There should also be boreholes in police camps so that our police officers have access to clean and safe water. I would like to give another example, that of Mudzi Police Station. They get their water from the nearby river. This water is not safe for human consumption.
The police leave their work to go and fetch water from the river instead of performing their duties of arresting those who would have broken the law.”
Another MP, Biata Nyamupinga, also underlined the level of incapacitation, saying while people in her constituency in Goromonzi were reporting cases, the police has been lacking transport to go to accident scenes.
In response, Ziyambi said: “Actually, it is not very correct that police do not have transport. In fact, if you have noticed over the last two years, there has been renewal of the fleet for the police even in rural areas, we have had a significant increase in police vehicle presence,” Ziyambi said.
“It is not very correct that they do not have. Actually, one of the best things that His Excellency has done over the last two years is to capacitate both the national army, the police and the prisons in terms of vehicles. If honourable members want to be very honest, the presence of vehicles from the security sector within the community has increased.”
This is a contradiction, considering that the police, represented by police Deputy Commissioner-General Learn Ncube, appeared before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence, Home Affairs, Veterans of Liberation Struggle and Security chaired by Beitbridge East MP, Albert Nguluvhe, saying the capability and image of the police require a lot of resources.
Ncube said the skills and the competencies of the police sometimes leave a lot to be desired due to inadequate resources, even for training police officers.
“But when we look at goods and services which are our operations, under training and development expenses. We want to train police officers. Members of the committee will agree with me that the outlook of your police organisation in terms of skills and the competencies sometimes leave a lot to be desired and it is the intention of the ministry and the department to ensure that our members are adequately trained,” said the deputy Commissioner-General.
Police proposed a ZW$130 billion budget towards the skilling and training of police officers, but the ZRP got only 15% of its desired allocation.
“Hence under this sub-head we were allocated ZW$20 940 110 000 out of a requirement of ZW$130 000 000 000 that was our ideal budget. For us to be effective on the ground this cannot be over-emphasized as was said by the PS (permanent secretary), we need to train our officers academically and for them to get professional education,” said Ncube.
“The allocated funds cater for the smart policing concept that integrates information communication technology. You can agree with me, that we are very behind with technology, very, very behind. That is why you see in our towns we are having fiasco in managing traffic because they know our technology is lagging very much behind, hence we think this sub-head can be raised,” said Ncube. In his plea, Ncube told Parliament that the ZRP has forensic and cyber labs that aid in solving crimes, but the facilities are underfunded.
“Under our CID [Criminal Investigations Department] we have what we call a cyber-crime laboratory office. This is a specialised unit and under this sub-head we have requested for ZW$8.9 billion, but we were only allocated ZW$4.2 billion, which is not enough,” said Ncube.
He added that failure to capacitate this lab raises the risk that innocent people may end up being imprisoned.
“For the forensic laboratory equipment, we had requested for ZW$84 billion and we only received ZW$6 billion, it’s just a drop in the ocean and we are saying in crime management forensic science analysis evidence from scenes of crime, suspects and victims there is nothing easier than having an innocent person being convicted because we would have failed to carry out proper investigations. So to avoid that, there is need for us to be resourced scientifically so that our evidence which we provide to our courts is best to none,” said Ncube.
In all these years, police have been outsourcing expert witnesses on cases that require forensic and cyber-crimes.
“It’s so disheartening to be found in an organisation where we want expert evidence we had to outsource from neighbouring countries. We have this cyber-crime laboratory and the forensic science laboratory, we want equipment. They are in place. I can’t remember when you visited us last time, if you managed to go through these two labs, they are in place, but we need equipment to ensure that we operate at 100%. So for the cyber-crime laboratory we were given just below 50% and we are saying how about if we were given 100% and ensure that we buy the equipment and we provide the best service,” he said.
In addition, Ncube raised the issue of the welfare of police officers, saying they are not receiving allowances for conducting out-of-town duties and they are the only ones in the civil service not getting such a benefit.
“Mindful that the welfare of officers and members on deployments away from home stations must be effectively addressed so that the desired goals and objectives are achieved. I believe that Zimbabwe Republic Police as we speak is the only organisation in the government where you can assign someone to go and perform duties without earning T and S [travel and subsistence allowance], they go and they perform adequately, but we are saying that we ensure that the members with all this martyrdom are also remunerated accordingly in terms of travel expenses like any other government employee assigned on duty,” said Ncube.
In the previous budget, the whole force got an allocation that was not adequate even to cover for three months of its annual fuel requirements.
“I will then move on to fuel, oils and lubricants where we had requested for
ZW$ 270 54 940 000, however, we were allocated only ZW$25 251 844 000. This amount which was allocated is not even enough to take us beyond three months because what we need in terms of our consumption, we need about 800 000 litres of diesel a month and 500 000 litres of petrol a month. This is what we are supposed to be getting so that we adequately provide the police service to our people.”