A new association has formed to address the excessive and frequently corrupt police roadblocks that plague Zimbabwe’s roads. The Road Users Association (RUA) is an informal group led by businesspeople, legal experts and leaders from the transport and motoring industry.
The launch was announced on 19 July via the new but already very popular Facebook group Dear ZRP, to a clamorous response. Dear ZRP publishes legal information and hosts discussion about the policing of Zimbabwe’s roads from an obviously anguished public.
“RUA considers that the actions of the ZRP are harming the economy, undermining public respect for the police, infringing the public’s constitutional rights, discouraging tourism, and placing undue hardship on motorists. Instead of the ‘spot checks’ achieving a ‘reduction in road carnage’, their stated objective, ZRP is often compromising road safety”, reads the launch statement in part.
Speaking on behalf of RUA, Harare resident and motoring business owner Sean Quinlan told Harare News, that the organisation would take a holistic approach to making motoring in Zimbabwe safe and enjoyable.
“We are creating a network of people and organisations that can address the situation holistically. Since December 2015, the number of roadblocks has increased to extreme levels, with unfair treatment by the ZRP such as unjust, inflated, and even fabricated fines being issued on a routine basis. It’s gotten so bad that some people feel so vulnerable on the roads that they have stopped driving altogether,” said Quinlan. He said that there was a need for all stakeholders to engage with the matter to foster solutions.
“We are not only going to mount a legal challenge against the roadblocks. We also want to create a meaningful relationship with management at the ZRP headquarters – who in my experience are competent and professional career police officers – in order to restrain wayward behaviour by their personnel on the ground. Other activities such as repainting faded road markings and giving visitors to Zimbabwe all the information and support they need to navigate Zimbabwe’s roads without being extorted from are also on the table,” he said.
Building partnerships with various organisations such as Zimpact and the Traffic Safety Council will be important going forward. In this vein, Harare News is glad to announce that RUA will be contributing a regular monthly column containing news, information, and analysis on motoring including safety and legal issues. Turn to page 12 in this issue for a look what the law says about stop signs, and how it is being applied by the police.
However, as per the RUA’s stated objectives, a crowd-funded legal challenge at the Constitutional Court to improve police behaviour will be among the group’s top priorities. Hiring Bulawayo-based legal firm Webb, Low and Barry through donations from the public, the RUA is compiling a dossier of reports and complaints from motorists to act as evidence that police are abusing their powers in contradiction to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“Motorists rights have been violated in a number of ways, including the right to privacy and freedom of movement. Anybody who feels that they have been treated unfairly and wish to play a role in this process should get in touch with RUA. They will be referred to Senator Coltart (a senior partner at Webb, Low and Barry), and invited to prepare an affadavit,” said Quinlan.
Public anger against the ZRP has been mounting in recent months, with new and increasingly serious instances of police harassment being reported daily. On 21 July for example, NewsDay reported the death of 19 year old Cecilia Mapako in Nyanga after the kombi rushing her to hospital for a heart condition was detained for over an hour as police tried to extract a $15 fine from the driver.
Share your thoughts with firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the Road Users Association at email@example.com
To donate to the RUA make a deposit to: Webb, Low and Barry Trust Account, Stanbic Bank, Joshua Nkomo Street (Bulawayo), A/C number 914 000 298 3604, Sort code SBICZWHX.
Join Dear ZRP at www.facebook.com/groups/dearzrp
Image: ZRP and ZBC roadblock on Churchill Rd.