Govt blames sanctions for police’s slow reaction to crime scenes

Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema has blamed sanctions for serving as an impediment to the smooth flow of law enforcement agents in delivering their mandate.

Zimbabwe’s police service will continue walking to crime scenes and boarding public transport as long as trade restrictions are not lifted government has said, adding that sanctions were impeding the purchase of vehicles.

Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema told Senators Thursday that the current shortage of cars and other equipment at Police stations was in part due to mismanagement but mostly because of sanctions.

“That is part of the problem but yes, I accept we need as a police force of Zimbabwe more vehicles, accommodation at bases, stations and everywhere but under these circumstances I know it is easy for some of us to say it is because we are mismanaging. Yes, we are mismanaging because of the sanctions that you called for yourselves,” he said to interjections and laughter from opposition Senators.

 “Indeed Mr. President and the House as a whole, we need a police service or force that should react instantaneously almost. A police force that reacts in that way is a police force that also has the necessary vehicles or transport system,”Mathema said.

The Home Affairs minister said government was working on a programme to have each police station have not just one police vehicle but several vehicles so that the reaction time is shorter than is being experienced.

“Now we have a situation that members of the police services walk to the crime scene and we just cannot accept that. This is because of the budgetary constraints that we have and the environment that has taken place in the past 20 years,” Mathema said.

“Part of that environment has been brought about – let us face it and I know that some people do not like this – but part of that environment has been caused by the fact that the country is under sanctions,” he said amid continued  disapproval from opposition Senators.

Mathema continued: “Sanctions also means that as Government we cannot access the vehicles that we want. We have to go through certain systems and for you to access a company or have vehicles from Japan you have to go through an international banking system or monetary transfer system that will not be seen by the powers that be internationally.”

He said Government was doing the best it can to ensure Police force have enough, not just vehicles, “ZRP needs helicopters and drones”.

“We cannot even manage the traffic system here in Harare or Bulawayo and Mutare.  As the Minister of Home Affairs, I need to be kept abreast with what will be happening in the streets whilst I am in my office – that is called traffic management.  We have to know what a thief is doing in which shop, that is what is done everywhere in the world.

 “So it is because of the resources, that is why our police force reaction time is not very good.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is on record urging his ministers to desist from blaming sanctions insisting that Zimbabwe will develop with or without sanctions imposed on the country by Western countries.

Mnangagwa said although sanctions were slowing down economic growth and hurting the poor, his government had put in place a plan to put the ailing economy back on the rail.