- "We understand there is no money but because people are committing crimes, we need to fine them. We are appealing to the public to drive and at the same time having cash so that they can pay spot fines if they commit offences..."
GOVERNMENT has advised that it is its policy that motorists found violating traffic laws must pay spot fines because there are challenges in tracking offenders if they are allowed to pay the fined at a later date.
The deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Ruth Mavhunga-Maboyi yesterday said where a motorist violates traffic laws but do not have the money for the spot, they have to borrow from “friends” or reach an understanding with law enforcement agents on how the fine can be paid.
The Beitbridge West legislator was responding to a question in Parliament by Makoni Central legislator David Tekeshe (MDC Alliance) who asked if it was Government policy to demand spot fines.
“Yes, it is Government policy. That is why it is called a spot fine. It has to be paid at that particular place,” Mavhunga-Maboyi responded. “You and the police officer are allowed to talk but if you fail to agree, you are then told to sit down and you are given time to think.
“You can borrow money from others to pay the fine because if we allow you to go without paying, everyone who commits a traffic offence will use that excuse that they do not have money.
“If you are allowed to go without paying the spot fine, where do you expect the police officer to make a follow up on the payment of the fine? How will he find you?”
But Tekeshe said it was Government’s responsibility to implement a system where motorists can pay later and track those who breach the arrangement or exceed the grace period to pay. The deputy Minister, however, insisted that offenders must pay on the spot as a deterrent to traffic offences which are on the rise and endangering the lives of othee road users.
“The point is that you would have committed an offence. Without an offence, you are not required to pay but if you commit an offence, you have to pay. If you do not have money, you need to communicate with the police at the roadblock.
“You cannot run away with that money. We need that money,” Mavhunga-Maboyi insisted.
MDC-T legislator Peter Moyo said the motoring public faces a challenge of accessing cash as police do not accept payment of fines in EcoCash.
“If you arrested me in the rural areas and you expect me to be having cash, where do you expect me to get that cash from? Should I stop going to the funerals because I will be told you are over-speeding? Is that good?”
Mavhunga-Maboyi said motorists must find a way of ensuring they have cash on them when they drive because spot fines are not going anywhere anytime soon.
“We understand there is no money but because people are committing crimes, we need to fine them. We are appealing to the public to drive and at the same time having cash so that they can pay spot fines if they commit offences,” said Mavhunga-Maboyi.
On the issue of negotiating with police to pay the fine later, Mavhunga-Maboyi said that could happen but was discouraged. “Once we start negotiating, we are going to negotiate and end up into corruption. This is why we are emphasising on spot fines. People must just pay their fines,” insisted Mavhunga-Maboyi.
The war veteran, former soldier in independent Zimbabwe, and former teacher was in no-nonsense mood and said the demand for spot fines would also deter the rise of mushika-shika which had led to incidents of robbery and high accidents.
The issue of spot fines has been topical for years now after High Court judge Justice Francis Bere in February 2015 declared that spot fines were illegal and had to stop, but police spokesperson Paul Nyathi urged the public to ignore Justice Bere’s “opinion” and continue co-operating with the police in paying spot fines.
Officially opening the 2015 Legal Year in Masvingo, Justice Bere said there was neither a legal framework nor any law which either compelled a motorist to pay a spot fine or which empowered police to impound someone’s vehicle. The judge further called for clarity on the retention of spot fines by the police.
But police then issued a public statement saying Justice Bere was expressing his own personal opinion and nothing had changed in terms of the procedures which empower the Zimbabwe Republic Police to accept spot fines.
Nyathi described the judge’s comments as a form of interference with the operations of the police and said the issue of spot fines was duly tabled before Parliament and approved by Cabinet. – Zimbabwe Voice ■