Home » Judicial » Spot Fines – Police Desperately Clutching At Straws [opinion]

THE issue of spot fines has been hogging the lime light in the print and electronic media for quite some time now and every time it is raised people are forced into compartments depending on whether one is a motorist, a law enforcement agent or a policy maker.

Strident voices have been coming from commuter omnibus operators complaining about the heavy presence of police on our public roads and the extent to which these law enforcement agents can go in making sure that you don’t pass a road block without parting with cash.

High ranking police officers have been in the media (print and electronic) defending the issue of spot fines with well-rehearsed narratives that range from the so called desire by officers to maintain law and order on our public roads to defending the retention of the spot fines because of the sanctions mantra that has allegedly paralyzed police operations.

You will remember what happened to Geshom Pasi, the Zimra Commissioner General, when he revealed that the ZRP was raking in close to 7 million dollars per month through spot fines and that police should remit that money to treasury for the good of the nation. And recently Justice Bere was caught in the eye of the Tsunami when he mentioned that it is illegal for the police to demand spot fines and wreck vehicles as there are no legal instruments to support that.

The policy makers seem to have been caught flatfooted by this contentious issue judging by the comments they have been making concerning the issue of spot fines probably due to the fact that most of them are always spared from the extortionist behavior of the traffic police. However what is breathtaking and spectacular is the defence for spot fines coming from the police every time we are reminded that it is illegal for the police to take spot fines.

It is a fact that the High Court, sitting as an appeal court, made a ruling three years ago barring the police from insisting on spot fines yet you continue to hear some ministers who are obviously suffering from chronic amnesia taking sides with the police in concluding that utterances by Justice Bere are merely personal sentiments which cannot be elevated to a court ruling. What are these guys smoking, I wonder? Is this not the open mouth shut mind virus that has gone out of control?

There is no doubt in any rational Zimbabwean’s mind that those who are defending the illegal issue of spot fines are actually not defending the law but simply supporting and benefitting from the wanton abuse of spot fines. It’s rather unfortunate that most of these people have taken an oath to observe and be bound by the laws of the Republic. Just how on earth do the police have the warped and reckless mentality that when a High Court Judge reminds them of what is illegal they view that as an attack on the independence of the three arms of government (the Judiciary, executive and Legislature) when in fact the police behavior of failing to enforce court rulings or selectively enforcing the law is real interference with the work of the judiciary.

The Herald issue of the 26th of February had this misleading story on the spot fines issue “Spot fines: Govt sticks to its guns”. In the article the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi is quoted saying the government will go ahead with the collection of spot fines and impounding vehicles while responding to questions from the floor in parliament. He said it will be difficult to track traffic offenders because they always give wrong names and addresses when they are caught by the police.

These utterances by the Deputy Minister do not reflect the government position on the issue of spot fines despite his desire to elevate such to have the force of law. The bottom line and reality is that it does not become law because a visibly drunk Deputy Minister wishes it to be law. Imagine what would become of our nation if what every Minister or Deputy Minister would say in Parliament responding to questions becomes the law?

In the article the Deputy Minister went further by accusing Justice Bere of hypocrisy and double standards when he attacked the police for retaining spot fines when the judiciary was doing the same to raise funds for judges’ allowances. Justice Bere just reminded the police that what they are doing is not supported by the law period. Now, Deputy Minister how do you interpret this as a ploy to misinform the public by the learned man? If anything you are actually the one who is misinforming the public to allow the cops to continue collecting spot fines from the public. The learned man never said the police must stop collecting fines he simply reiterated that insisting on spot fines is illegal.

How the issue of sanctions continues to be abused by the ZRP to justify the corrupt collection of spot fines by cops induces a g sense of shock in me and other rational Zimbabweans who bear the brunt of reckless police behavior on a daily basis through involuntary contributions to their welfare and luxury.

If indeed Zimbabwe is under sanctions then let it be understood that it’s Zimbabweans under sanctions so the police must not believe that motorists are spared from those sanctions. So the police think it’s the name Zimbabwe which is under sanctions and not the Zimbabweans who include me and you. Our forefathers had this to say ‘chisingaperi chinoshura’ which literally translates to ‘everything has got its own ending’ so, as a motorist, l urge you to prepare for the last supper.

As the economic woes of the country continue to mount tendencies to defend the indefensible will definitely be on the increase and our actions must not increase public anger because the public has got many ways of responding. To those at the feeding trough of spot fines, be warned that anger is one letter short of the word danger.

Slavoj Zizek, the great Slovenian philosopher had this to say on the corrupt system that has submerged us: “Do not blame people and their attitudes: the problem is not corruption or greed, the problem is the system that pushes you to be corrupt. The solution is not “Main Street, not Wall Street,” but to change the system where Main Street cannot function without Wall Street.”

Source : New Zimbabwe