Thanks to aggressive tactics the ZRP lost the public’s hearts a long time ago. These past few weeks the ZRP launched a massive and unusually aggressive fight against pirate taxi operators (mushikashika). The result was a public outcry as ZUPCO crumbled in the face of surging demand for public transport and fares went up to as much as US$5 per trip into the CBD depending on which suburb you were coming from. The police’s favoured weapon in all these operations were handheld spikes which were now a police favourite after the High Court banned windscreen smashing using baton sticks. The result was at least one fatal accident.

Faced with rising public anger and a possible stay away the government scrambled to issue economic measures which were announced by the president. One of the measures was the scrapping of the very unpopular ZUPCO monopoly. Thus far the government had strangely stuck to it’s ban of kombis and private players in the public transport sector to the extent of wheeling out ancient trains to operate as ZUPCO trains. The president promised that kombis would be allowed to operate but we saw that the police seemed to have missed this announcement as they kept hounding kombis and chasing them with handheld spikes.

Finally, the Commissioner has come out with an order banning the most certainly illegal practice. That is not surprising. Zimbabwean authorities often push forth dubious laws and administrative practices that fall foul of the constitution banking on the fact that there is always a time lag before such provisions and practices are challenged before sympathetic courts that often drag their feet and suspend judgements indefinitely before they are forced to scrap the offending statutes.

Below is the message from the police commissioner-general: