HARARE – Traffic cops manning rob blocks are free to urinate in public as there is no law to prohibiting the practice, Home Affairs deputy minister Obedingwa Mguni told the National Assembly on Thursday.
Responding to a question from Matabeleland South MDC senator Sithembile Mlotshwa on what government was doing to enforce the law against police urinating in the public, Mguni said they would only implement the Act after it has been availed to them.
“According to the Constitution, police are bringing peace, investigating crime, preventing crimes and they are also doing it on behalf of every ministry that is in Zimbabwe.
“So, if there is an Act that is being provided by the ministry heading the environment, saying no one should urinate behind a tree, police will enforce that one,” he said.
“That is the duty and we do not enforce anything which is not lawful and where we do, not have an Act to act upon it, we will act only when there is an Act that has been passed and is given to us to make the people act lawfully.
“Therefore, if urinating behind the tree is now illegal, the police will be informed by the Environment minister.”
This is despite the fact that police arrests people who urinate in public.
Recently, some cops were assaulted by a man — whom they were trying to arrest for public urination in Gwanda.
Martin Dube was later charged with two counts of public urinating.
Mlotshwa argued that it was illegal under the Environmental Management Act to urinate in the open, as the police would be polluting the environment.
“I want to know what the government policy is because your department is the one that deals with apprehending the wrong doers to maintain law and order.
“How do they manage to apprehend the air polluters since we see your officers at the roadblocks urinating and defecating in the open and affecting people by the nature’s smell? How do they apprehend the public?”
“There is the Environmental Management Act and I think it provides that all the waste be put in a toilet. So, if the police do not know that by now, we are in danger because we are going to be infected.”
On the other hand, Mguni admitted that the heavy presence of police on the country’s roads had not curbed lawlessness.
“As government, we remain conscious of the traffic congestion in our urban areas, particularly in Harare,” he told the Senate.
“We are also keeping an eye on the rowdy behaviour mainly by touts, commuter omnibus and taxi operators, including the notorious mushika-shika.”
Mguni said Zimbabwe lacked reliable and dependable urban public transport that has seen almost all cities flooded by private operators.
“Secondly, inadequate parking space and designated termini for our motoring public, greatly contribute to the traffic menace in our cities,” he said.
The rapid urbanisation and population growth, and increase in the number of vehicles has inadvertently caused a lot of strain to existing infrastructure such as roads, parking space and holding bays.
“I am, however, confident that senators are fully aware of the regular police and municipal deployments in and around the cities trying to bring sanity on our roads by reining-in errant motorists and apprehending offenders,” Mguni said.
“The ZRP has deployed motorised, bike and foot patrols that continue to arrest unruly motorists almost on a daily basis. Furthermore, the ZRP, together with other stakeholders such as the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe are continuously undertaking various strategies and putting to an end the lawlessness caused by unscrupulous road users.”
Some of the strategies Mguni noted were campaigns against irresponsible driving, arresting traffic offenders and clamping all vehicles parked or loading and offloading at undesignated points.
“To this end, the ministry of Home Affairs welcomes the recent upward review of traffic fines as this might serve as a deterrent to would-be traffic offenders,” Mguni said, referring to the March increase in traffic spot fines by nearly 100 percent, in a controversial move ostensibly meant to reduce road accidents.
“…as a forward-looking government, we have other long-term plans to ease congestion in urban areas which I am sure will be announced by relevant Cabinet ministers at the appropriate time.
“Suffice to say that as a ministry responsible for the maintenance of law and order, we will never allow errant motorists to break traffic rules with impunity.
“We, however, continue to sincerely appeal to all road users to exercise sobriety and restraint on all our traffic bad habits and use our roads with dignity at all times,” he said.