Secret Millionaires of Harare: How Rank Marshals Rake in US$1 Million Monthly at Copacabana

Rank Marshals Make US$1 Million Monthly in Harare

Being a rank marshal might sound like an unlikely path to wealth in Zimbabwe, but it turns out to be quite lucrative.

Bus and commuter omnibus operators recently exposed that these rank marshals rake in an eye-popping estimated sum of US$1 million every month through unauthorized taxes at bus termini around Harare, including the bustling Copacabana.

Harare is home to at least five associations representing bus and commuter omnibus operators, with a combined membership of approximately 800 each.

The Lucrative Trade: How Rank Marshals Reach US$1 Million

Under this unauthorized taxation scheme, rank marshals are said to be collecting up to US$240,000 monthly from each association, adding up to about US$1 million per month overall.

Mr Pious Chidzenga, head of operations at the Zimbabwe Union of Drivers and Conductors (ZUDAC), shed light on the situation. He explained how drivers are forced to pay US$2 for every trip they undertake, amounting to US$10 per driver per day. With 800 ZUDAC members, this translates to nearly a quarter of a million dollars per month from this association alone.

“Each driver is compelled to pay US$2 for every one of the five daily trips they make into the rank. Simple multiplication will tell you that rank marshals pocket a substantial US$10 per driver each day. This exploitative practice persists over a month, with drivers contributing US$300 per month individually. When multiplied by the 800 members of ZUDAC alone, the rank marshals accumulate US$240,000 monthly. This figure represents just one association out of the more than five operating within Harare,” he said.

Authorities Vow to Tackle the Issue

Speaking at a recent public transport stakeholders meeting in the capital, Commissioner Wonder Tembo, the police officer commanding Harare province, assured stakeholders that they are gearing up to tackle this criminal syndicate.

“As officer commanding Harare, I want to mention that as police, we don’t condone such kind of behaviour that is prevailing at various bus ranks. We are having running battles with people who claim they own certain ranks. I have tasked my assistant commissioners to sit down with Harare City Council officials to come up with an operation to tame this menace,” he said.

Operators Urged to Take Action

Commissioner Tembo noted that some rank marshals exploit the names of senior political figures, but the police have never received a call from any political party or Government questioning why certain troublemakers were arrested.

He urged operators to refrain from paying rank marshals, and if they insist, operators should report them to the police.

Harare Mayor Cllr Jacob Mafume stated that they are taking steps to assume control of the ranks and restore order.


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