JOC outlines curfew plan-(22-02-07)

MDC warns of massive public anger
HARARE - A think-tank of top security officials has recommended that Cabinet immediately authorize power to impose a curfew in some areas to try to restore order and stop raging unrest and deadly protests against President Robert Mugabe's disastrous 27-year rule.

Top security officials confirmed the Joint Operation Command, comprising heads of the army, police, prisons and the shadowy Central Intelligence Organisation had met during “crisis meetings” this week and had asked Cabinet to approve a decree to impose curfews in some areas and to rope in the military to prevent the country from sliding into an “all-out civil war.”
The proposed crackdown, will result in the military being empowered to prohibit the movement of people, vehicles or goods across the entire national territory during designated times and also outlaws processions, marches, demonstrations and public or private meetings likely to cause or maintain disorder.
The JOC is seeking executive powers that would allow the military to arrest anyone threatening state security. The move by the JOC comes after a day of deadly unrest during violent clashes between police and opposition supporters at a rally called by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Highfield on Sunday to launch his 2008 Presidential campaign bid. The foiled meeting was also poised to strategise on resistance methods that could be employed to oppose overtures by President Robert Mugabe to impose an extension of his unpopular rule.
The rally had earlier been called off by police citing security concerns but a High Court judge granted an interdict barring police from stopping the rally. The police’s determined use of extra-legal methodologies to scuttle the rally sparked new unrest.
Skirmishes between demonstrators and security forces broke out in several poor neighborhoods of Highfield, Glen Norah and Glen View and in the interior of Machipisa Shopping Centre.
An estimated 1,100-armed police officers, assisted by Israeli-imported water cannon tankers, guns, dogs and intelligence officers, took siege of the three ghettos where 122 people were arrested. Seventeen people sustained serious injuries during the clashes. Three MDC supporters are feared dead, according to spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
Three police officers were among the casualties who suffered heavy injuries, lynched by angry mobs.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told State radio a car had also been burnt in Glen View during the skirmishes.
Sunday’s violent clashes, which left the streets of Highfield engulfed in tearsmoke and the Machipisa Shopping Centre resembling a war zone, has prompted the JOC to seek Cabinet approval to take all appropriate measures “to defend the people of Zimbabwe from the risk of civil war,” security officials said.
Information and Publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu could neither confirm nor deny that government was considering imposing a curfew to counter opposition protests. He told The Zimbabwean: “We are taking action to bring peace. We have to take care of the people and protect them against violence.”
Security sources said the JOC wanted “Martial Law” to be imposed immediately and that in practice would forbid all public meetings and empower the military to censor newspapers and all radio and television broadcasts. The army would also be granted temporary powers to monitor private communications, such as telephone calls, faxes and emails. Security sources said the JOC was convinced that these measures were necessary to “reestablish public order and protect the people of Zimbabwe.”
Chamisa said the MDC was aware of the plan and was astonished that government was mulling giving powers to the army, which has in the past been responsible for the slaughter of innocent civilians.
“This plan to impose a curfew, closing bars, which are the remnant platform of excitement, will catalyse public anger,” Chamisa warned.
After shutting down all beer halls and night clubs in all the ghettos on Sunday, police in the capital have been deployed to guard government offices, banks, petrol stations and strategic points which leads into the administrative centre.
There is also a heightened presence in the city center and in some ghettos of riot police weighed down by automatic rifles, 1metre rubber truncheons, tear smoke canisters and transparent police shields. There also roadblocks mounted on all roads leading into the city centre from areas such as Highfield.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *