POLICE have maintained a heavy presence in Harare’s central business district (CBD) during the post-election period, amid fears in the corridors of power that opposition CCC supporters may stage protests over the shambolic 23 August polls.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) declared Emmerson Mnangagwa winner of the presidential election, described as a sham by the Southern African Development Community and other observer missions.
This comes as Mnangagwa sent a chilling message, threatening to crush any form of violence or demonstration.
“We will not stop our development plans and programs because of some noise from little boys,” Mnangagwa warned as he officially commissioned the Max Min Sabi Star Lithium Floatation Plant in Buhera, Manicaland province.
“They will continue making that noise but we shall continue to move on. But I warn anybody who may want to be nonsensical and bring chaos in this country, we are ready to deal with any chaos.”
He added: “Whoever will preach hate speech shall be responsible for their hate speech, our prisons are not full, we want peace, we want unity. Those who do not agree with that, do so quietly and peacefully then we might get along.”
The authorities have since 23 August deployed anti-riot police officers at perceived hotspots around Harare to clamp down on any demonstrations by CCC supporters in reaction to the announcement of the election results.
The NewsHawks witnessed dozens of armed police riots stationed in Africa Unity Square and other various perceived hotspots in the CBD, as the government is fearful of an uprising following the disputed election.
Despite the police deployment in Harare’s CBD, life has largely continued as normal in all parts of the capital and the country at large. There have been isolated cases of revellers being violently dispersed at pubs and nightclubs by state security units.
The ministry of Primary and Secondary Education was startled to find out that some people were now wondering if schools would reopen in the first week of September as originally scheduled, amid rumours that there might be a presidential re-run. The ministry has since issued a statement of reassurance that schools will reopen as planned.
Zec declared Mnangagwa winner of the presidential election, saying he garnered 2 250 711 votes (52.6%), while CCC leader Nelson Chamisa received 44% of the 4 468 730 total votes cast. Chamisa, however, rejected the outcome of the presidential results and called the results “a blatant and gigantic fraud” on social media before declaring victory at a Press conference in Harare.
The CCC has since approached the courts to challenge the outcome of the presidential result. It has also planned a nationwide protest to demand fresh polls to be held under the supervision of an impartial electoral body, not Zec.
The election has been criticised by observer missions who say it fell short of local, regional and international standards.
According to the Southern Africa Development Community Election Observer Mission and African Union-Comesa mission, irregularities in election management, failure by Zec to deploy election material on time and an environment of fear undermined the credibility of the results.
In their reports, the observers cited several issues, including Zec’s delays in delivering ballot papers, glitches in the release of the voters’ roll, voter intimidation and the postal voting controversy.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police has warned that its officers are fully deployed countrywide and remain on high alert to deal decisively with any unruly elements bent on causing disturbances.
However, members of the public has been urged to feel free to conduct their day-to-day business in the post-election period.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said officers were on motorised and foot patrols in central business districts, residential, industrial and other areas to maintain law and order.
“We would want to continue urging members of the public to remain peaceful in view of threats that are being issued by some rogue elements who want to cause disturbances. We will continue maintaining police presence, not only in Harare but countrywide,” Nyathi said.
He said police were happy with the cooperation they were receiving from the public in terms of maintenance of law and order.
Police warned some politicians it accused of sending false information locally and internationally about the security situation in the country, saying they risked being arrested and prosecuted.
The authorities said they had also taken note of some offensive messages being circulated on social media platforms openly agitating for violence and illegal gatherings, especially in Harare and Bulawayo.
Nyathi urged the public to be wary of such “unruly elements” who wanted to loot shops and destroy property.
Meanwhile, as a crackdown takes shape, police say they have launched a manhunt for two suspects, believed to be CCC members, who are part of a group of political activists suspected of mobilising people to stage post-election demonstrations.
Investigations conducted by the CID Law and Order section have led to the identification of the two suspects as Hamy Madzingira and Lovemore Makuwerere whose whereabouts are still unnown.