By A Correspondent- The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has threatened to clamp down on serving members who have resorted to social media to express discontent over poor salaries.
Videos of police officers protesting economic hardships on social media have gone viral, prompting the force to threaten to take action against its members, whom it says were denigrating government.
In a leaked internal police memorandum dated October 3, 2021, ZRP Mt Darwin district officer commanding ordered all officers-in-charge to identify the members in the videos and take disciplinary action against them.
“This headquarters has noted with concern the proliferation of photos and videos on social media platforms where police officers are openly seen denigrating the government, uttering political statements and improperly dressed with some female officers posting sexually seductive photos and videos in full Zimbabwe Republic Police uniform,” the memo read.
“This conduct is tarnishing the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s image and is contrary to the dictates of the disciplinary code as espoused in the Police Act [Chapter 11:10.] Commanders are implored to immediately identify such members and take decisive action which includes disciplinary trials and boards of inquiry (suitability).”
In one 15-second video which is making rounds on social media, an unidentified police officer displays cash in local currency, with lyrics in the background song implying that his earnings were no longer enough to meet the cost of living.
According to the video, the police officer is requesting government to review their salaries which have been eroded by inflation.
Insiders told NewsDay that low-ranking police officers were earning between $28 000 and $30 000, which is not enough to meet their family monthly needs.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Human Rights Watch director for southern Africa, Dewa Mavhinga, urged government to address its workers’ grievances instead of penalising those who spoke out.
“The prevailing economic hardships are felt by everyone, including those civil servants in the police and the army,” Mavhinga said.
“Instead of punishing and silencing those who protest, government should focus on steps to improve the economic conditions, to end rampant corruption, and to ensure workers have meaningful wages.”