Let citizens enjoy basic freedoms

Analysts have condemned the heavy presence of armed police officers in the central business district of Harare arguing that this violates citizens’ right of movement and association as enshrined in the Constitution.

Dumisani Nkomo
Dumisani Nkomo

Various political analysts who spoke to The Zimbabwean said the heavy presence of armed police details in recent weeks was a clear sign that the securocrats were bent on thwarting the free movement and association of ordinary citizens.

Dumisani Nkomo, a political analyst based in Bulawayo, said it was worrying that the police were focusing on the deployment of police details in the central business district and MDC headquarters instead of concentrating on other important national duties that benefited ordinary people.

He said the police action impacted negatively on citizens’ freedom of movement and association as enshrined in the constitution.

“It seems that the police are concentrating on internal party politics of the MDC at the expense of citizens,” said Nkomo. “They should be vesting their energies on combating crime instead of round the clock surveillance of MDC headquarters.”

Efforts to get a comment from Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba were futile while national police spokesperson chief superintendent Paul Nyathi was not picking up his mobile.

Okay Machisa, ZimRights director, said the heavy presence of police details in the central business district was a violation of citizens’ freedom of movement and association. “We are an independent nation which is not at war,” he said. “The heavy presence of armed police is intimidatory.”

Machisa said he was not against the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) doing their job and carrying out their mandate as the law enforcement agents.

“We are not saying the police should not do their job. They should intervene especially in cases where there is violence and crime.”

The MDC has in the past attributed the continued heavy deployment and surveillance of their party’s offices by armed police officers to a sign of provocation intended to “intimidate, instil fear and subdue any dissention”.

According to a statement issued by the party, the presence of the police was a “wanton act of aggression by Zanu (PF) aimed at covering up the massive electoral fraud by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), orchestrated at the behest and connivance of the ruling party”.

“The heavy police presence at Harvest House is also affecting the day-to-day business of innocent Zimbabweans who want to move on with their lives after their votes were stolen by the Zanu (PF) dictatorship,” read the statement.

An analyst who declined to be identified said it was highly likely that the government felt threatened and anticipated civil unrest because they were failing to deliver according to their election manifesto.

“Last week, the MDC- T president called for citizens to rise in Mucheke,” said the analyst. “It could be that the police want to intimidate citizens, especially MDC youths from engaging in protests as they have done in the past few months.”

MDC-T youths have so far carried out three demonstrations in Harare demanding the 2 million jobs as promised by Zanu (PF) ahead of the 2013 elections.

Anti-riot police officers quickly dispelled the protests, beating the youths with baton sticks, leaving scores injured and in need of medical attention and arresting others.

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