POLICE Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri has been rightly praised for taking a tough stand on corruption in the force by ordering his officers that have ventured into the public transport business to cease their operations immediately.
We reported about the ban on Tuesday and it was confirmed yesterday by police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi.
This followed sensational revelations by the Greater Harare Association of Commuter Omnibus Operators (Ghaco), which told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development police officers owned 50% of commuter omnibuses operating in Harare.
Nyathi disputed this figure saying only 8% of the kombis operating the capital were owned by police officers.
However, this still does not make it right. Police officers are known to operate pirate taxis and public transport vehicles that operate without requisite permits on the country’s major roads.
Transport operators and ordinary people have been complaining about this obvious conflict of interest, but no one has cared to listen.
The many police officers who have ventured into the transport business are also expected to enforce traffic regulations without fear or favour.
Transport operators accuse police officers of using their positions to try and frustrate them out of business while the vehicles owned by the cops operate without hindrances.
Therefore, Chihuri’s ban — that we are told was imposed after an investigation by the police established that a high number of officers had invested in the transport business — should just be a beginning.
The next step should be a lifestyle audit for the force that was promised a number of years ago, but has never been implemented.
It is common knowledge that police officers — just like other government workers — are poorly paid, but a number are known to drive expensive cars. The rot is not only confined to lower ranks, but there are senior police officers that have become super-rich at a time Zimbabwe’s economy is going down.
Only a comprehensive and independent lifestyle audit would convince Zimbabweans that Chihuri is serious about stamping out corruption that has heavily tainted the police force.