ZIMBABWE has enough stocks of number plates but Government officials were creating an artificial shortage for corrupt gains, transport minister Felix Mhona said on Monday.
His statements come as police said they had impounded over a thousand vehicles since the crackdown started on Saturday and made more than 2,200 arrests.
Mhona said he fully backed a police crackdown on vehicles being driven without plates as they were used for criminal purposes, but warned officials at the the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) that corruption would not be tolerated.
“I want to take this opportunity to inform the nation that we have adequate number plates in stock. We don’t tolerate corruption in the issuance of number plates and tomorrow I will visit CVR to understand challenges they are facing in the issuing numbers plates. There is no need for the public to pay extra money to get the plates,” Mhona said.
As a first step in dealing with the corruption, he said they had transferred some officials to other stations. The registrar George Makoni has also been replaced, with Saston Muzenda taking over his position.
“The people have not been fired for now but we are doing our investigations. We have transferred some officials. I have here our new registrar Muzenda, we are not saying Makoni has done something wrong but we are saying we cannot have one being in a department for 30 or 40 years,” the minister said.
“Issues of order are important in every jurisdiction and as a ministry we fully support the blitz by law enforcement agencies on unregistered cars which are largely contributing to high crime rate in the country,” Mhona said.
Mhona said ZIMPOST had 1,674 number plates available at its branches in Bulawayo, Causeway, Southerton and Chitungwiza.
ZIMRA has 5,985 number plates in stock at its outlets in Bulawayo, Harare Kurima, Masvingo, Victoria Falls, Gweru and Mutare.
Starting on Tuesday, he said, ZIMPOST outlets in Rusape, Mutare Main, Bindura, Marondera, Chinhoyi, Masvingo, Victoria Falls and Hwange would begin issuing number plates, with 2,624 readily available.
“Motorists with unlicensed and unregistered vehicles are advised to leave their vehicles at home until they have properly licenced and registered, than for them to be first arrested and then later register their impounded vehicles,” said Mhona.
In a statement on Monday, police said they had arrested 2,238 people on Saturday and Sunday during the operation targeting unlicenced, uninsured and unregistered motor vehicles.
On the first day of the operation, police said they had impounded 784 vehicles.
Police say criminals are using vehicles without number plates to commit crimes, and are using the operation to smoke them out.