HARARE, March 30 (Xinhua) -- A new schedule of higher traffic fines in Zimbabwe announced by Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa at the end of 2016 has come into effect following the signing into law of the Finance Act by President Robert Mugabe last week.
Fines for offences in Levels 1 to 3 have been increased by between 5 and 10 U.S. dollars, much to the chagrin of motorists who argue that the new schedule does not only fuel corruption but is also not affordable to many cash-strapped Zimbabweans.
Offences which used to attract a 5 dollar fine are now pegged at 10 dollars; those which were at 10 dollars are now at 15 dollars; while those which were at 20 dollars are now 30 dollars.
Level 1 is for offences such as failure to fasten seat belts; Level 2 includes offences such as failing to obey traffic signs; and Level 3 relates to more serious offences such as dangerous driving, driving a vehicle without headlights and overtaking in front of on-coming traffic.
Motorist Peter Chikuni blasted the increases saying that the reason given by Chinamasa that they were meant to reduce carnage on the roads was insincere because the government was trying to look for ways to generate revenue.
"The government wants to raise funds at all costs. Many Zimbabweans are living from hand to mouth because of the harsh economic environment, and now we have the minister imposing higher fines," he lamented.
Relations between the police and the motoring public have not been rosy because of the numerous roadblocks the police have been mounting on the roads.
The issue of spot fines also remains contentious with the courts outlawing them and the police acknowledging that they are illegal but still proceeding to impose them.
Motorists who are not able to pay the spot fines risk having their vehicles impounded.