A few weeks ago the Zimbabwe Republic Police (soon to be Zimbabwe Police Service) sparked outrage when they announced that passengers are seen boarding non-ZUPCO buses would be fined $2000 ZWL. I called the fine cruel and heartless and wondered what law was being used to implement said fine as it would probably not pass muster.
Turns out I was right and now the matter has taken a strange twist. When the authorities were dragged before the courts to explain themselves they had only strange things to say. The Minister of Home Affairs Kazembe Kazembe and the Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Godwin Matanga, denied such law or $2000 fine existed! In fact, they denied that the police had ever fined passengers for boarding mushikashika buses.
This is despite the fact that a few weeks ago we heard from the police themselves through official channels boasting that they had already arrested and fined scores of passengers.
By the time of closing business, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) had impounded more than 20 buses, arrested 179 passengers for boarding illegal buses, and other Mushikashika vehicles.A report on Pindula News summarising an article from HMetro
The cynical fine was introduced by the government even though they created the current crisis and now they are denying that they ever fined anyone. They probably know it will be hard to prove not that proof has mattered much in civil cases involving the government. You can win in court but the government has a tendency to ignore judgements they do not want. Including cabinets that overrule High Courts decisions.
As I pointed out, crafting a law that makes it illegal to board pirate taxes would not be an easy task. Such a law would fall foul of a lot of constitutional provisions and most importantly it would be a stupid law. The authorities in this case even admitted as much before the High Court. It’s not a crime to board pirate taxes, there is no law or legal basis to fine people over such. The baffled judge overseeing the case, Justice Esther Muremba was forced to reserve judgement.
To be clear, there is no law that says you cannot a non-ZUPCO bus. You are free to do so. It’s not a crime. By extension, the current kombi ban is also probably illegal as it seeks to prop up a failed government monopoly that doesn’t have the capacity to cater to the needs of commuters. The government almost certainly knows this. They are just banking on the fact that by the time it’s stopped the ZUPCO monopoly would be a fait accompli.