Zimbabwe Police Officers Cling to Jobs Amid Poverty

Retiring cops apply for contract extensions as they struggle to make ends meet

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zimbabwe’s police force is facing a crisis as hundreds of officers who have reached the retirement age of 50 refuse to leave their posts, citing financial hardships and lack of savings.


Sources within the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) told Newsday Zimbabwe that the authorities were overwhelmed with applications for extension of contracts by retired officers, which prompted them to impose strict vetting conditions. 


The sources said most of the officers had no other source of income or investments to sustain them after retirement, and were afraid of losing their benefits and pensions in the country’s volatile economy.


According to the Police Act, police officers who have reached the retirement age can extend their service with the consent of the Public Service Commission. Some officers have accused the ZRP of barring them from retiring on the basis of bonding agreements, which require them to work for a certain period after receiving training or education funded by the force.


In 2018, the High Court ruled that the ZRP’s conduct of barring officers from retiring on reaching pensionable age was unlawful and violated their constitutional rights to freedom of profession and not to perform forced labour.


The court also declared the bonding agreements unenforceable and ordered the ZRP to pay the officers their retirement packages and monthly pensions.


However, some officers said they had not received their dues and were still waiting for their clearance letters from the ZRP.


One of the affected officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had been trying to retire since 2019 but had not been given his letter of discharge.


“I have been working for the ZRP for 32 years and I want to rest and do something else with my life. But they are holding me hostage and making me work without any motivation or incentives,” he said.


“They only approve extensions for those loyal to the system or have connections. They are discriminating against us and violating our rights. We are suffering and living in poverty, while they are enjoying the fruits of our labour,” he said.


Another officer, who also requested anonymity, said he had been working for the ZRP for 28 years and had reached the retirement age in 2020, but was still waiting for his letter of discharge.


He said he had not applied for an extension of contract, because he wanted to pursue other opportunities.


“I have a degree in accounting and want to use it to start my own business or look for a better job. But they are keeping me here and wasting my time and skills. They are not paying me well and they are not treating me fairly. They are exploiting us and using us as cheap labour,” he said.


He said he had not received his retirement package or pension, and was struggling to pay his bills and support his family.



However, in a recent meeting with senior officers, Acting Commissioner General Godwin Matanga said the retirement age for police officers was 55 years according to the Police Act, and 65 years for the Public Service Commission.


He said members should prepare for retirement and plan for their future.


He also said the ZRP was undergoing a transformation process to improve its efficiency and effectiveness, and to restore public trust and confidence.


Zimbabwe is facing a severe economic crisis, characterised by high inflation, low wages, currency instability, and shortages of food, fuel, water, electricity, and health care.


The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the crisis in Zimbabwe, infecting over 130,000 people and claiming over 4,000 lives.


Many Zimbabweans are living in poverty and struggling to survive, while others are leaving the country in search of better opportunities.


However, some activists say there is hope for change and reform, if the government and the opposition can engage in a genuine dialogue and address the root causes of the crisis, such as corruption, human rights violations, and bad governance.

You may also like

white logo with motto

The Zimbabwe Advocate is more than just a news outlet. We are a movement, a symbol of resistance against misinformation.

Latest News

© 2024 The Zimbabwe Advocate. All Rights Reserved.