ZIMBABWE Republic Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga has passed the buck on Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Hon. Felix Mhona whom he said is the authority responsible for the administration of the law which law enforcements agents were relying upon to restrict the movement of motorists for allegedly failing to display permanent registration number plates.
Matanga disclosed this in a response to a letter written to him by Paidamoyo Saurombe of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who had demanded that ZRP should immediately allow access to motorists who had paid for the acquisition of permanent registration number plates at Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) but had not yet been issued to them while CVR and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development attend to sorting out the challenges they were facing.
In his letter, Saurombe had protested that it was grossly unreasonable for ZRP officers to curtail the movement of motorists who have paid for permanent registration number plates and that the motoring public was being needlessly harassed and inconvenienced at numerous police checkpoints.
The human rights lawyer told Matanga that it was unfortunate for ZRP to label everyone without permanent registration number plates as being criminal elements committing gross acts such as armed robbery, kidnapping, unlawful entry as well as hit and run traffic accidents in Zimbabwe.
The ZRP dragnet operation which commenced in January 2022, Saurombe said, is arbitrary without any room for discretion and was hindering motorists’ rights to movement as well as being unreasonable and could not be justified in a democratic society.
In response, Matanga faulted Hon. Mhona and told Saurombe that the Police Service is a creature of the Constitution which draws its functions from the supreme law of the land.
Matanga said Hon. Mhona is the one responsible for the administration of the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Act, which ZRP had purportedly been relying upon in conducting the operation to impound vehicles, which human rights lawyers had argued does not empower law enforcement agents to impound motorists’ vehicles and hence they cannot grant to themselves powers which they are not vested with at law.
The ZRP Commissioner-General told Saurombe to direct some motorists who paid for permanent registration number plates and can show their proof of payment documentation to Hon. Mhona, whom he said should be able to address such issues.