[Read the full report (479k pdf)]
In a country where the Rule of Law is no longer operational and the security forces operate with impunity, every citizen is vulnerable. A chance remark in a taxi, at a pub or even at a funeral could lead to arrest and possible incarceration in one of the country’s disgracefully maintained jails. Those who stand up for their rights and join demonstrations or canvass for political parties other than ZANU-PF face possible arrest, severe beatings and torture in custody.
Bribery and corruption have become rampant. In a survey published by Transparency International in 2011, Zimbabwe ranked 154 out of 182 countries in terms of its level of corruption. The ZRP topped the list as the most corrupt institution and stood out as the biggest recipient of bribes among service providers.
This report focuses on the risk of arrest at the hands of the partisan Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) under the command of Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, who has publicly acknowledged his allegiance to ZANU-PF. Chihuri has served as police head since 1993 and his contract has been renewed by President Mugabe 13 times since 1997. Chihuri is a member of Joint Operations Command (JOC), the junta which continues to control Zimbabwe.
The proliferation of roadblocks across Zimbabwe’s appallingly maintained road network has lead to growing frustration among road users due to the inevitable delays and the demands for bribes from increasingly brazen police officers. Although one of the most important roles of a roadblock should be to reduce the number of vehicle accidents, their contribution is seen as questionable – and rather as a money-making racket both for the police force per se and also for individual self-enrichment.