Local Accountability Meeting held in Harare
Harare- RESIDENTS leaders drawn from different suburbs attending a local accountability meeting in Harare roundly castigated the Police for their lack of cooperation with residents, and their alleged involvement in corruption, and trading of drugs in communities. The residents said this while attending a meeting that had been organised by the Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) in order to facilitate dialogue between the citizens and the police on issues of drug and alcohol abuse as well as the menace of touting which has affected hundreds of motorists and travellers n and around Harare.
The meeting was attended by 31 residents, 23 of them women. The main agenda of the meeting was to discuss issues of accountability specifically focusing on the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Despite assurances that they would attend, the police failed to come. Upon this realisation that the police would not be coming, the residents discussed drug abuse, child abuse and sexual harassment, and touting.
Addressing the residents’ leaders following a discussion on what the HRT stood for, Precious Shumba, the HRT Director said the Harare Residents’ Trust is a non-profit organization formed to empower residents to demand services from service providers. He said the HRT stands for the weak, the downtrodden, the marginalised and excluded and the weak in society. It seeks to empower them to knowledgeable citizens. He said residents’ needs and basic requirements could never be sacrificed on the altar of political expedience.
Residents were put into three groups to extensively deliberate on each of the key issues. Concerning the issue of child abuse, residents displayed knowledge of what child abuse is and its impact on our society. Child abuse was defined as a state in which a child is placed, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Residents claimed that children are being abused on a daily basis but such cases are being swept under the carpet by the police who have assumed the role of courts. Residents are crying foul because their children are being abused but lighter penalties are imposed on those who have been found guilty. One of the issues which also raised resident’s anger was the issue of amnesty being awarded to sexual predators that are more likely going to victimize children after release. Residents therefore call for a stiffer penalty to be imposed on child abusers and enforcement of existing laws by police services should increase.
Concerning the issue of drug abuse, residents expressed great anger towards this menace. Drug abuse has been on the increase and efforts being made to mitigate the situation are proving to be fruitless.
Residents are questioning the position of law enforcement agency in tackling the issue of drug abuse. Drug abuse means using medication or chemicals for wrong purposes. There are different types of drugs at play in Harare, but stimulant drugs are highly abused. These are drugs which increase the rate of neurons and cause one to feel more energy. These drugs are highly addictive and result in increase of crime and dangerous behaviour. Residents claimed that police are also using and selling these drugs hence their reluctance to enforce the law.
Touting is one of the major issues affecting all residents in Harare. Pedestrians and motorists are highly affected by this act. Different by-laws have been enacted to curb this problem since 1977 and also in 1986. Touting is an act of forcing passengers to board buses or commuter omnibuses and demand money from transport crews. Residents argue that the city council is not doing much to correct the situation. The ZRP has failed to address the matter hence residents called on the involvement of President of Zimbabwe in the matter to restore order in urban centres. Most residents believe that touting has increased because of politics, and therefore the lack of political will is informed by the actors involved.