Hundreds of police officers, many in riot gear, have been deployed in Harare, as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s panicky administration fears civil unrest, it has emerged.
There has been an unexplained heavy police presence in Harare’s central business district (CBD) for over a week.
The heavy riot police presence has been witnessed in the city centre every day since police officers clashed with a grouping of war veterans who were protesting the low allowances they receive from the government.
NewZimbabwe.com reported security sources as saying the Government has also secretly deployed significant numbers of undercover agents, mainly from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to gather intelligence. Said a source:
There is a general fear among police commanders at the moment that the worsening hardships could trigger civil unrest and this was worsened by war veterans taking to the streets recently.
The idea is to showcase as much firepower as possible and scare away any potential rioters.
This is precisely why you have seen police trucks on the streets and increasing roadblocks on the city’s main feeder roads.
It’s a psychological warfare taking place.
Two female police officers who have been camped near the new Government complex in Harare told the publication that they didn’t know why they were deployed. They said:
We actually don’t know why we were told on the streets. Normally, such information is kept away from us.
We are simply told to go and occupy the streets and wait for further instructions.
In short, we don’t know why we are here.
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the police have the mandate to maintain order. Said Nyathi:
I may not be aware of what you are calling huge numbers, but police patrols or moving around in vehicles or on foot is part of that responsibility of maintaining police visibility and assuring the public of their safety.
Asked to explain what or who had threatened public security of late, Nyathi said:
I do not know what you mean by asking if public safety is under threat.
Remember police have a duty to conduct patrols in the country and patrols are conducted by the police moving around and being seen by the public, so I do not know if there is a problem if the forces are patrolling.