Let Zimbabwe Voice read this article for you!
By Dr Masimba Mavaza
The police have taken the war against piracy to another level. As from last week the police have started to fine the passengers who are found in the pirate taxis otherwise known as Mushikashika. The situation in our transport sector has reached another level.
The police have invoked a law that doesn’t make sense.
In most cases authorities have a habit of being hard of hearing and passing laws that make little sense without consulting the relevant stakeholders. Legally speaking in democratic societies the government sits down with all stakeholders and discuss any new law while it is still a draft. This wide consultation gives every citizen a duty to own each law and it becomes easy to implement such laws.
This law to fine the passengers is the law drafted and implemented by the police? Secondary legislation is law created by ministers (or other bodies) under powers given to them by an Act of Parliament.
It is used to fill in the details of Acts (primary legislation). These details provide practical measures that enable the law to be enforced and operate in daily life.
Secondary legislation can be used to set the date for when provisions of an Act will come into effect as law, or to amend existing laws.
For example, governments often use secondary legislation to ban new substances in response to new information about their dangers by adding them to a list under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Sometimes the government department come up with what is called Statutory Instrument.
Statutory Instruments (SIs) are documents drafted by a government department to make changes to the law. They are published with an explanatory memorandum, which outlines the purpose of the SI and why the change is necessary. They usually have either rule, order or regulation in their title.
Parliament can either approve or reject an SI, but cannot amend it. Parliament’s role in considering an SI varies depending on what is stated in its parent Act. There are some Statutory instruments which we call negative SI.
Negative SIs do not need active approval by Parliament. Usually negative SIs are made (signed by the minister) before being laid in Parliament.
They will automatically come into effect as law unless either House stops (annuls) them within a fixed period after they have been laid – usually 40 days, excluding days when both Houses are in recess or adjourned for more than four days.
The police’s latest hard pill to swallow is a $2000 ZWL fine that will be paid by passengers in a pirate vehicle.
Police gave their plausible reason for enforcing that law and outing the passengers on a naughty corner with a generous handshake.
“Police are urging people to use ZUPCO registered buses only to avoid being arrested.
The move by police to arrest passengers was necessitated by an increase in robbery and rape cases involving these illegal transport operators.
We want to warn motorists and bus operators who are disregarding government directives that police will not tire until they bring all culprits to book.
Among the buses impounded were those found ferrying people from one City to the other taking advantage of the green light given to legal operators to ferry school children.
Police discovered that some operators ferried passengers from one City to the other who were not school children.
All local school children are urged to use ZUPCO registered buses and omnibuses only and police will be visible in all street corners and roads to monitor safe movement of legal transport operators.
The ZRP’s statement on the new law.”
I have requested the police to provide me with the exact legislation which imposes a fine on the passenger. I am still waiting for the citation.
While we are waiting it is very naive of the law to punish citizens in order to protect them. Being protected must not be painful. It must be a pleasure. Laws must not thump press the delicate parts of the masses. They will be bound to react.
As a party in government ZANU PF is digging its grave by allowing such unreasonable laws to sail through.
There are people real people with flesh and blood. Real people suffering in the streets of Harare when it comes the time to go home. The people are in long queues waiting for the registered Zupco bus. In that queue there are nice people vana Mhofu who are exposed to the pick pocketers vana Nyamuziwa.
We have mother’s and small children screaming their lungs out so that they can get a sit in the overcrowded ZUPCO. The question are as long as the whole night. Can you imagine what these desperate tired angry citizens are discussing in those long queues. Are we really serious right now.
We must remember that it is the party which leads the government. Such laws which directly pains the masses are not good for the party. We are digging our own graves and we must start now to cover these graves. Real people are in the queue and they are our loved ones and our voters.
We can not sit as if we are before a barber while children and our wives are screaming in a long queues to pay a fine and again a long queue to go home before they pay a fine. As a party we must wake up. The situation we are creating is counter productive and we must boldly take action to make things right.
We know that public transport is key to so many of the agendas that matter for government and smooth rule. Getting more people into buses and public transport will reduce complains and congestion’s in the streets of Zimbabwean towns.
This will reduce our carbon emissions, improve our air quality and as every bus journey comes with a walk to at least the bus stop it will also help to get people active. We also need to ensure all communities are well served and have the option of a good and reliable service. Despite the importance of a well controlled public transport in so many of these areas it has been in decline for years. We need to address the decline of the bus industry if we are to achieve our ambitions to provide public transport, climate change, air quality and public health.
The pandemic has thrown the problem into a harsh new light. The entire bus industry became insufficient overnight and has become a serious pain in the posterior.
Trying to fix this by killing the alternative is like shooting your own foot.
Bringing sanity to our transport system cannot simply be an attempt to rebuild what has gone before, the bus industry has been in long term decline and going back to what we had before and expecting a different set of results is not a responsible way to govern. Instead, we must use local governments and central governments’ funding, infrastructure and traffic powers to work in partnership with public transport providers in fishing out rogue transport providers without punishing the victims twice.
Local government will play a pivotal role in ensuring the policies we need for a recovery are co-ordinated at the local level and suit the circumstances of the hugely diverse bus markets operating across the country.
Many places in the our cities continue to have poor public transport system. Public transport, and the bus in particular, must provide more journeys and carry more passengers in the cities if we are going to tackle these issues.
Public transport is a basic need and it is the duty of the government to provide it.
The basic needs approach is one of the major approaches to the measurement of absolute poverty in developing countries. It attempts to define the absolute minimum resources necessary for long-term physical well-being, usually in terms of consumption goods. The poverty line is then defined as the amount of income required to satisfy those needs.
Providing decent public transport system is a legal duty to be fulfilled by the government. In our Campaign for 2023 as a party we must work for Better Transport system for our people.
Before imposing these fines without providing an alternative the police and the local government must follow normal public law obligations to act fairly, rationally and lawfully, and for proper purposes.
They also have to follow specific statutory duties. Statutory duties are laws that come from Parliament.If there is a failure to comply with these public law duties, it might be appropriate to challenge the local authority, the police and those in charge of these absurd fines. As far as the local authorities are concerned there must be a clear line between what they are allowed to do and what they must do.
A statutory duty is an obligation on the local authority. If they fail to follow these duties the court can force them to.
A statutory power gives the local authority discretion whether to act. They must still follow the other normal public law duties, as explained above, but at the end of the day they can use their power, or decide not to. In some cases the difference between the two is not clear cut. For example there might be an underlying duty, but the local authority might have discretion to decide exactly how the duty applies in their area.
The provision of public transport is a basic human right.
With major uncertainty around the demand for travel and changing patterns of usage, brought about by the COVID-19 crisis, there is concern at all levels of government about how local public transport services can be delivered sustainably while also being made more attractive.
It is very true that the current funding and regulatory regime of bus and public transport provision is no longer fit for purpose. There must be a thrust towards providing more buses and solve the transport blues. We can not afford to alienate our urban voters now. It is cowardice to beat a person who is already down.
The Party therefore, must seek to influence the formation and delivery of the Government’s national bus strategy in the context of a holistic consideration of public transport. With this in mind, the ZANU PF must undertake research to initiate a debate on the future of public transport in Zimbabwe with a focus on local bus services either owned by city councils or local government.
Before we burden the already burdened passengers we must make sure that there is a sufficient alternative to replace the mushikasika.
It is the role of councils and local government to set out policies and objectives for local transport, and to manage the spending of local government transport budgets. They have certain duties, such as:
Statutory requirements around the provision of more transport;
The chaos exhibited at every rush hour resembles a dog’s breakfast. The provision of Zupco buses does not consider the needs of elderly and disabled individuals. People are not put in proper safe terminuses thereby exposing the to thieves. A journey back home is stressful and killing.
The bus service must be made more attractive so that people make a choice which is not motivated by a punishment.
ZANU PF and local authorities must address the decline in bus use that has been seen in recent decades, and they recognise that making bus services more attractive is key to achieving this. As well as the many benefits that arise from providing an effective public transport network, desires for improvements are, in part, driven by the high expectations from the public to have attractive, easily accessible and affordable services. They must see this as a way to connect new communities, reduce Mushikashika dependency and congestion.
In this global village it is easy to understand what attractive services look like and as a party we must have a strong desire to be able to deliver best practice solutions.
The party must ensure that there is a Fast, frequent bus services, including bus priority measures – reducing journey times also reduces operating costs; dealing with the long queues once and for all makes people shun Mushikashika without paying a fine. Imposing a fine only helps to make people enemies of the law. Hard laws are never obeyed. There must be Integration of the physical network between modes including bus terminuses and connectivity with mobility hubs such as revamping our rail system and introduce tram services and have an active travel time table on every bus station. All the transport system needs Branding, marketing, and easy access to information for transport users, planners, and partners.
The party must show a desire to embrace innovative practices in order to deal with the persistent problems, tackle specific contextual issues (e.g. providing attractive rural networks), and address the new challenges which have been presented by COVID-19.
In doing this, authorities must raise the need for a stronger commitment to delivering best practice in development planning, for example:
We must Develop liveable neighbourhoods which reduce the need for non-local travel in general, but which particularly aim to break the need for car ownership.;It is the duty of the government and the party to endure that all new developments have public transport access for when travel is needed. This must be provided in early phases of development occupation in order to lock-in positive travel behaviours.
It is very patriotic to realise that the kombi ban has actually created two crises in one single stroke. All the young and able-bodied tens of thousands who were employed in the sector suddenly found themselves without a job in the midst of a pandemic. Again there is no alternative employment for them.
Secondly, the banning of kombis has brought untold suffering to the wider public who are no safer than before the ban. They have to spent time in crowded filthy ZUPCO buses that are no safer than the kombis and do not even adhere to COVID-19 guidelines set by the government itself. Most have had to make do with illegal transport operators knowns as Mushikashika.
There is more risk of catching COVID-19 as a result of this ban. Mushikashika will be a thing of the past if we are able to create the alternative.
The party and the local transport authorities must secure the provision of appropriate services to meet public transport requirements. In practice this means that where it is socially necessary to have a bus service, but the bus operators will not run a bus commercially, local authorities step in and subsidise a bus service or part of a bus service.
On a serious note fining passengers is is not a noble idea. Our only hope lies in the fact that like headless chickens the authorities will pass another equally silly law.
A-la-SI-127-of-2021 and the police who are tasked with enforcing them will be so distracted trying to enforce this new silly and too tired to bother us on our way home.