Zimbabwe police had to ask for army’s help to quell protests

Soldiers had to be called in to quell violence in Zimbabwe.
Soldiers had to be called in to quell violence in Zimbabwe.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) said the army had to intervene to help disperse MDC Alliance supporters because it did not have the capacity to deal with the crowd.

The police deployed 71‚000 officers countrywide ahead of the high stakes elections held on Monday. Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba‚ appearing on state broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) during the 6 PM bulletin‚ said they didn’t have enough resources‚ including their reserve force‚ to deal with a situation of this magnitude.

“We requested for the assistance of Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) for the suppressing of the commotion and disturbances in Harare central business district. This development has been necessitated by the fact that the degree of disturbances of law and order have reached a magnitude where our regular police officers as well as our reserve members have been unable to cope‚” she said.

One person was shot dead by the Zimbabwean army in the capital Harare on Wednesday August 1 2018 as soldiers stepped in to disperse protesters who had clashed with police, after the main opposition leader accused the ruling party of trying to rig the country’s election results. Subscribe to TimesLIVE here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TimesLive

She also said that police were keen to interview the MDC Alliance’s Tendai Biti to assist with investigations on the running battles in Harare.

“We are keen to interview Mr Tendai Biti and Happison Tidziva of the MDC Alliance we are inviting them to Law and Order offices in Harare‚” she said.

Relations between the army and police have been strained since the November 2017 military takeover when the army raided army garrisons and camps - thereafter taking over policing duties for a month.

The military’s involvement has been widely condemned by the public that embraced it when it took to the streets during the fall of former president Robert Mugabe.

“Soldiers are not trained to control crowds but kill. Police ARE the security arm trained in crowd control‚ and our Constitution gives them that role. Who deployed soldiers is the most important question that will have to be answered pretty quickly as death toll rises‚” tweeted journalist Mduduzu Mathuthu.

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa came into power he retired officers that were deemed loyal to Mugabe’s establishment.

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