PARLIAMENT will lobby Government to address the welfare and operational challenges faced by members of the police force across the country.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services is conducting a tour of police stations in the country in order to assess challenges faced by members of the force.
The tour which started on Monday and ends tomorrow involves an assessment of police station offices, holding cells and staff accommodation.
During the tour the committee has learnt that some police officers are working from condemned and dilapidated buildings or makeshift structures and have inadequate furniture. The police are also operating with limited transport, stationery and office equipment.
The police officers and their families are overcrowded in the limited accommodation which is available.
Members of the committee yesterday visited the ZRP Bulawayo Provincial Headquarters at Ross Camp. They also toured Tshabalala Police Station.
In an interview, the chairperson of the committee Brigadier General (Rtd) Levi Mayihlome said the tour was part of a fact-finding mission which will help Parliament to lobby Government on challenges faced by the police force which have persisted for a long time.
“As part of our oversight role as Parliament, our committee is accessing service delivery by members of the police force to see to what extent the budget allocated to this department is meeting the expectation of the citizenry or to see the impact of the budget allocation. We want to have an appreciation of how the police are carrying out their duties and if there are inhibiting factors, what are they?,” he said.
Rtd Brig General Mayihlome said the committee started the tour in Beitbridge and Gwanda in Matabeleland South and then moved to Hwange and Inyathi in Matabeleland North before coming to Bulawayo.
“We have been pressing Government to fund the police and military over the years. This time we decided to go on the ground and from there we will lobby Government and make a lot of noise until action is taken,” he said.
Rtd Brig General Mayihlome said before engaging the rest of the Parliamentarians, the committee will first engage the Ministries of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Finance and Economic Development as well as National Housing and Social Amenities over the matter.
He said the police department had requested $312,6 billion under the 2021 budget and they were only allocated $23,7 billion.
Rtd Brig General Mayihlome said most of this money goes towards salaries and very little is left for purchasing resources and equipment.
He said the major limiting factors they had identified during the tour of police stations include shortage of working resources, shortage of accommodating and offices.
Rtd Brig General Mayihlome said families were overcrowded, buildings were dilapidated, there were sewer leakages, uniforms were in short supply.
He said there were also transport challenges, lack of allowances and equipment for smart policing and fuel shortages.
Presenting a report on the state of affairs in Bulawayo, Officer Commanding Bulawayo Province, Commissioner Parton Mbangwa said shortage of resources was adversely affecting police performance.
He said the province has been hard hit by armed robberies, theft of copper cables and theft from cars perpetrated by criminals who are using vehicles hence the need for police to be resourced in order to be equal to the task.
“Failure to prevent crime erodes police-public confidence, a relationship which we are endeavouring to restore using community policing initiatives.
“The province is in dire need of additional operational vehicles and other resources particularly adopting smart policing initiatives in the fight against organised crime,” he said.
Commissioner Mbangwa said deployment of police officers to crime prone areas is hampered adversely by inadequate manpower. He said the most affected rank is that of constables.
He said there was also an acute shortage of uniforms and stationery.
“Smart policing requires efficient ICT equipment in the form of computers and associated gadgets. We are facing insufficient computers at every station while some stations do not have a single computer. We have outdated computers which cannot accommodate other programmes.
“The province is operating with a depleted fleet comprising mostly old and unreliable vehicles which have outlived their lifespan,” said Commissioner Mbangwa.
He said the province will however continue to use the available resources to fight crime.