The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has warned serving members against using social media platforms to express discontent over poor salaries.
Videos of police officers protesting economic hardships on social media have gone viral, prompting the ZRP to threaten to take action against its members, whom it says were denigrating the government.
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In one 15-second video which is making rounds on social media, an unidentified police officer displays cash in local currency (Zimbabwe dollars), with lyrics in the background song implying that his earnings were no longer enough to meet the cost of living.
In a leaked internal police memorandum dated 3 October 2021, ZRP Mt Darwin district officer commanding ordered all officers-in-charge to identify the members in the videos and take disciplinary action against them. The memo read:
This headquarters has noted with concern the proliferation of photos and videos on social media platforms where police officers are openly seen denigrating the government, uttering political statements and improperly dressed with some female officers posting sexually seductive photos and videos in full Zimbabwe Republic Police uniform.
This conduct is tarnishing the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s image and is contrary to the dictates of the disciplinary code as espoused in the Police Act [Chapter 11:10.]
Commanders are implored to immediately identify such members and take decisive action which includes disciplinary trials and boards of inquiry (suitability).
Insiders told NewsDay that low-ranking police officers were earning between $28 000 and $30 000, which is not enough to meet their family monthly needs.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch director for southern Africa, Dewa Mavhinga, urged the government to address its workers’ grievances instead of penalising those who spoke out.