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Immigration officers owed US$300K in unpaid allowances

Immigration and police officers deployed at border posts are owed more than US$300 000 in unpaid allowances by the government since 2008.

This came out during an inquiry on the state of the Beitbridge and Forbes border posts by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services.

The inquiry also revealed that the travelling and subsistence allowances for the officers were last paid in 2008, a situation that heightened corruption at the country`s ports of entry.

Presenting the report, the committee chairperson Umzingwane legislator, Levy Mayihlome said some officials were surviving on meagre salaries which they had to share with their families.

“The Committee was told that travelling and subsistence allowances were last paid in 2008 and the total outstanding arrears exceed US$300 000. Members were dividing their meagre salaries between themselves and their families in order to sustain themselves whilst on deployments located far away from their ordinary places of residence,” said the Chairperson.

Hon. Mayihlome said the morale among the officers was low resulting in them putting little effort in their duties.

“The Committee was further informed that members on deployment were not well equipped with full patrol kits such as tents and rations. It was also confirmed that morale was indeed low even as officers continue to put their maximum efforts to prevent illegal crossing,” he said.

The MP added the immigration department was failing to run effective awareness campaigns against human trafficking and smuggling.

“There were no proper awareness campaigns conducted by the Immigration Department to educate the public on human trafficking and smuggling. The Department has on record a total of 92 minors who were referred to the Department of Social Welfare after intercepted at Beitbridge Border Post in 2019,” said Hon Mayihlome.

“In addition, a total of 82 deportations had been effected from January to June 2019. Thus, on average about 15 people were trafficked per month.”

The report also revealed police officers operating at border posts were incapable of monitoring the smuggling of goods into the country as they were using archaic equipment.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) was seriously incapacitated to monitor smuggling of goods as they do not have modern IT equipment. ZRP officers were prone to corruption since they were deployed without their subsistence allowances,” said the MP.

Another challenge that was cited by the committee was the presence of landmines along the country`s borders which made it difficult for effective border patrols.

“It was submitted to the Committee that many areas along the borderlines were still infested with land mines which makes patrolling of the area difficult. The situation is further compounded by the total distances of respective borders which unambiguously demonstrate the extent of the problem, for instance, the stretch between Zimbabwe and South Africa which is 225km. Thus, patrolling in such areas can only be effective using drones,” said Mayihlome.

The portfolio committee also recommended the Police Service Commission to pay allowances to offices deployed at the border posts.

“The committee recommends that the Police Service Commission should make sure that deployees are paid travelling and subsistence allowances in time to curb ta penchant for corrupt activities and that outstanding arrears be settled by December 2020,” urged Mayihlome.

“The Department of Immigration should conduct regular proper awareness campaigns to educate the public about the effects of human trafficking and smuggling and the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs must expedite clearance of land mines along the border to ensure effective patrols. In the 2020 Budget, Treasury should avail budgetary support for this programme.”

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