Angry shop owners in Bindura have spoken out against certain members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police who they say are in the habit of demanding bribes which they are calling Covid-19 fees. The shop owners, according to demand around US$5 from each shop owner per week.

According to lockdown regulations businesses are only allowed to operate from 8AM-3PM each day as long as they have the proper documentation from the proper authorities. For shops this means up to date licences and for vendors vending licences all of which are issued by the relevant local council. A lot of businesses often don’t have up to date documentation.

Shop owners from Bindura’s high density surbubs have said that the police demand these bribes in return for looking the other way and allowing them to operate. Even if one has up to date documentation there are still some Covid-19 restrictions that businesses have to comply with such as having an infrared thermometer at the door. Businesses say the police often demand to see whether businesses are complying and if not then it’s Covid fee time.

Daily, the police officers come and collect US$5 per shop for us to operate because we do not have the infrared thermometers and necessary up-to-date operating licences.

As for bar owners, they pay using crates of variety of beers or US$40 per week. Now, had we bought the thermometers from the beginning; it will have saved us a lot but the issue was how to raise that amount at once.

approached senior officers at Bindura Central Police Station last week and they promised to investigate the matter but up to date, the bribery demands continue. However, Chief Superintendent Muzondiwa has given us time to explain our ordeal and has promised to look into it the matter. We hope there will be progress soon.

What various shop owners had to say.

One vendor also said that they were required to pay $30 ZWL in order for them to be able to sell vegetables in suburbs. Failure to pay would result in the police taking one’s goods.