Officer Chiwokomuhomwe reporting for duty, sir!

Masola waDabudabu

ZIMBABWE is engulfed in corruption that has punched gaping holes in the core of society. The law and order enforcement agents have turned a blind eye towards the despicable practice.

The law enforcement agents have taken to the murky waters of corruption like schools of piranha fish. The silence of the law and all its facets on corruption is a culpable normalisation of the evil.

Zimbabwe’s pervasive corruption has scared away divine intervention from prescribing any remedy on the grounds of incorrigibility. Any attempt to draw biblical similarities of Zimbabwe’s corruption index, Sodom and Gomorrah, would be benign events in the management of happiness.

As the illness savages the nation, possible solutions to the woes remain elusive. The police charged with policing bad practices are in the forefront of soliciting for bribes. They prowl the streets in search of victims to proffer allegations of transgression against some obscure sections of Augustine Chihuri’s Law. All of Zimbabwe’s social classes now accept that corruption is part of their lives. Underhand financial inducements have become the new way of celebrating nationhood and sovereignty.

The police are good at suggesting an easier way out of any crime they stage-managed during stop- and-bribe patrols. They negotiate in some alien faith with the unfortunate victims using threats of dire monetary or custodial consequences for whatever felony the police deem has been committed.

Fearing dire consequences such as being officially fined more money by the stern judge, spending a night in the stinking police cells or facing a gloomy stint in the death traps that masquerade as prisons, the citizens give in to the demands.

This is corruption at its worst. It is sad that after Zimbabwe was liberated from the claws of imperialists, her people have to endure hawkish talons of the rogue police.

It matters not where one is, where one goes and how one goes there. The police pounce whether one is on foot, on a bicycle, in a ramshackle jalopy, in a sleek Mercedes SLK 220, in a commuter omnibus or just sitting in one of the railway wagons that are in abeyance in the marshalling yards at Mpopoma Siding.

The only available defensive action the people have taken is colluding with the system. People carry some reserve cash to appease the corrupt police. This keeping of cash to pay the police surcharge is reminiscent to the early ’80s where having a Zanu PF membership card was a form of insurance against political brutality.

Now, instead of the curse of the Zanu PF membership card, there is the curse of the US dollar to deal with.

Perhaps it is an exercise in futility to compare the abuse of the Zanu PF membership cards for political ends during the ’80s and the current use of the US dollar in furthering corruption. This only exposes the common denominator.

Zanu PF members have been masterminds and purveyors of physical violence since the war of independence.

Now the party has produced graduates who are worthy practitioners in emotional torture in this endemic corruption, including the graduates from Morris Depot. No insult here as Chihuri has constantly reminded all and sundry that all police officers owe their allegiance to Zanu PF. The partisan police force learnt well from the top brass.

There have been shady tender processes, nepotism in the appointment of cronies with crooked ethics to positions of influence, recycling of chief executive officers with indelible blemishes, huge payouts for failure and general tolerance of unbalanced books.

While bureaucrats have been signing cheques and reaping the windfalls, true workers and ordinary people have been enduring the brunt.

The people have learnt to quick step in this tango of survival. Now they pay the police, they pay the system and they pay each other and above all, they pay for the extravagance demanded by the top brass to finance birthday parties, wedding ceremonies, funeral gatherings, political rallies and congresses.

So far the ordinary people have been complicit in perpetuating the extreme corruption than fighting it. Now there is a glimmer of hope in the horizon.

The people are taking small steps to reclaim their stolen dignity. In Bulawayo and Harare we hear of commuter buses actively taking evasive action against the bribe-hunting police. These evasive actions are an indication that the ordinary people now want out of corruption. The recent near-fatal accident in Bulawayo comes to mind.

For the police to have used spikes in the hope of ensnaring the minibus for a small bribe is a sign of desperation.

Now corrupt police officers should be running scared. For the people, there is an arduous task ahead to rid Zimbabwe of a contagious disease. This is a fight for righteousness and it demands that people say an emphatic no to corruption. Corruption was legitimised by the top brass and hopefully the ordinary people will put an end to it.

Masola waDabudabu is a social commentator