Zimbabwe Republic Police, one of the most underpaid police force in Southern Africa has become a menace in the country resorting to crime to make a living. The average police officer is paid US$40 as their base salary. In an economy that is now largely dollarised, $40 is not enough to meet the daily needs of an average family.
Recently Consumer Council of Zimbabwe pegged its Low Income Monthly Budget For A Family of Six (Monthly Basket) at ZWL $21 000 which is equivalent to about US$250. This means an honest police officer is earning seven times under minimum survivable budget.
With the wages that depressed and a battered economy there seems to be little hope for workers. Over the past six months, a number of criminal incidences have involved police officers and other members of the security forces.
The sad situation has seen police resorting to extortion and bribery especially during the covid-19 state of emergency. One example is when Police forced an expecting mom to pay bribe for passage to labour clinic.
In another case, Constable Tatenda Mtigwa a Masvingo police officer deployed at a roadblock meant to enforce compliance during the national lockdown was arrested earlier this year after allegedly demanding a $50 bribe to give passage to a motorist who was ferrying his sick mother to the hospital.
Only today, another police officer Constable Mpofu was nabbed after he was caught vandalising an electicity transformer. There has been a syndicate of electric transformer thieves especially in Harare. The state electricity utility company ZESA has reported an average of 3 transformer thefts every day in Zimbabwe resulting in close to $20 million loss to date.
Recently a man Polite Sibanda (30) and Khumbulani Mapingire (38), deserting soldier and an ex-Bulawayo police officer who are suspected to be part of an 11-member gang that killed a man in Harare’s Belvedere suburb in September and stole US$30 500 during an armed robbery were arrested.