The economy has dollarized but civil servants and Council employees are still receiving salaries in RTGS.
How are they surviving a loaf of bread pegged at US$1 or a 2litre of Mazoe at US$2.50?
In a déjà vu reincarnation of the rampant thieving and extortionate wave of the Commissioner Chihuri days, the officers have started again.
Here is how:
- At roadblocks
Many of the current roadblocks mounted are to regulate the movement of people to stop those without letters and enforce the wearing of masks.
The officers, however, need you to simply pay US$5 or the bond equivalent. No Ecocash. You pass through and go anywhere you want. Unless others catch you again, and you restart the bribing process again.
- Face-Mask Charge
Face masks have been made mandatory for anyone in public. The fine for moving without a mask is $500 bond which is roughly equivalent to US$5.
When officers catch you they won’t make you pay the fine. They threaten you with detention until you bribe them with anything with value and dignity.
The very hungry will accept anything from $50 bond.
Informal traders are still prohibited from operating under Level 2 regulations. However many depend on vending for their subsistence thus many are already back on the roads.
Security officers have thus found another way to get money.
In ghettos, they prowl the streets in private vehicles and swoop on unsuspecting vendors and informal traders. This is done with speed and agility.
For many caught, the nominal bribe is US$10. Failure to pay will result in the confiscation of the products. Once you strike a ‘good’ relationship they will become one’s Mafia protectors who come to ‘collect’ a fee every other day instead of arresting or impounding goods.
Last week a Council truck performed terrifying movie-style jumps across embankments as it tried to chase down an informal trader selling sweet potatoes. He had refused togive them a bribe.
- Letters of Authority
Travelling now requires a letter stamped by a figure of authority. A ZRP stamp usually does the job.
Thus many officers are ‘selling’ such letters. They write and stamp the letter authorizing a person to move around.
Many informal traders are in possession of such ZRP stamped letters which enable them to pass roadblocks.
For such a letter expect to pay upwards of US$20.
- Raiding Money Changers
Following the ban on entering the CBD, many forex traders are now operating from various out-of-town business hubs such as N Richards shops in Tynwald or Kuwadzana Shops.
The officers have refined the habit of raiding money changers who operate there. The bribe figure when caught depends on one’s ability to negotiate.