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HARARE - Zimbabwe has launched a recruitment drive to beef up its police force ahead of next year's presidential and parliamentary elections, the state-run Herald newspaper said yesterday.
"As Zimbabwe Republic Police, we have already started preparations for the elections and are in the process of mobilising manpower.
"We have started a massive recruitment exercise so that we have a minimum of 50000 police officers by the time we have elections," the newspaper quoted police senior assistant commissioner Faustino Mazango as saying.
Zimbabwe's police force currently stands at 29000 and has been losing members who seek better-paying jobs elsewhere. The force has often come under criticism for brutalising civilians during protests against President Robert Mugabe's rule.
In early March scores of opposition activists, including leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were hospitalised after sustaining injuries when riot police crushed a planned anti-government prayer rally in Harare.
As a result of the country's severe economic crisis, junior officers often use commuter buses, cycle or walk to crime scenes as police stations either have no cars or no fuel.
The force was dealt a further blow when a British vehicle manufacturer stopped suppling them with spares after an embargo by Zimbabwe's erstwhile partners in the West. - Sapa-AFP