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Law enforcement, corruption and abuse of authority





Police officers in African countries such as Zimbabwe are abusing their authority and one wonders if enough functional checks and balances are in place to monitor and control police authority.

The police are meant to protect the public but in Zimbabwe the police are now violators of people's rights.

Corruption and police aggressiveness are some of the pressing challenges that Zimbabweans are currently facing.

Zimbabweans often experience the police as violators rather than protectors. Although there are laws that protect citizens' rights and regulate how power should be exercised by the police, many police officers and the government cast a blind eye to this. Corruption and abuse of authority has been normalised such that it doesn't draw attention to attract civil society groups. This has given the police the power to perform their duties disreputably without being stopped or controlled by the appropriate controlling bodies such as the Parliament. The result of this has been unfair and unjust treatment of citizens and to a larger extent, lawlessness. Lawlessness and civil disorder prevails when police are unjust and corrupt. When the police do not follow prescribed working standards law enforcement becomes a difficult undertaking.

It must be noted that police officers have a huge amount of authority and power which, if not used appropriately, can lead to lawlessness on the part of  law enforcement agencies and the society. The use of power by the police is legally permitted under specific circumstances, and law enforcement officers should know when these powers can be legally applied. Power and authority are tools that law enforcement officers must use judiciously and ethically. Without an ethical life, this power is misused, creating a power imbalance that is bad for the society and the general welfare. In order for African countries such as Zimbabwe to have order and regain trust and confidence from its citizens, law enforcement agencies must respect and uphold constitutional and legal provisions.

In addition to this, law enforcement officers must enforce laws in ways that are ethical, just, impartial and fair. The police should maintain high ethical standards and adhere to their oath. Promoting high ethical standards, adhering to prescribed legal requirements consistently and fairly enforcing the laws are the keys to successful policing. The police is, therefore, supposed to respect the law and use their power and authority appropriately.

They should lead by example and when they do not people fear for the future. The citizens may start disregarding the law because the government would be disregarding the law. The state is held together by the laws and if the police and citizens do not respect the laws, the state will collapse. There is also danger of people losing confidence in the capacity of police in terms of how they discharge their duties. People see the police as an extension of an unwanted and unjust system ruling over them.

When the above information is taken into consideration it should be realized that important checks and balances must be established. There should be enough checks in place to ensure that the police does not abuse its authority. The legislatures should ensure that the executive branch of government is answerable to its actions and decisions. However, it should be realized that legislatures alone cannot address the problem of corruption and abuse in the police sector.

The citizens and civil society groups should also act as whistleblowers and voice their concern in a manner that draws the attention of the government. Without positive citizen participation, this problem will be difficult to stop and lawlessness will prevail in Zimbabwe. Last but not least, retraining of the police in line with international standards is also another approach. The police in Zimbabwe needs reorientation of human rights.

All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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About Article Author

Law enforcement, corruption and abuse of authority
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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