Anti-riot police have been deployed in Masvingo town in anticipation of a public demonstration to be staged by opposition parties on Friday demanding widespread electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 general elections.
Local residents expressed dismay over the deployment of the police saying President Robert Mugabe’s government is attempting to silence dissenting voices.
One of the angry residents Paul Rimai Mucheke suburb said the deployment of the police even in high density suburbs is designed to intimidate people intending to join the protest called by the National Electoral Election Agenda (NERA).
“As residents we are not safe with this situation because we are seeing heavily armed police in a peaceful city and country.”
Another resident, Samson Gumbo, said the situation is tense but calm in the town.
“We can no longer walk freely in the streets because police are everywhere, why can’t they go and arrest criminals out there.”
Masvingo Human Rights Trust, Coordinator Masimba, also condemned the deployment of the police in the central business district and residential areas.
“This is a very clear case of paranoia on the part of the government for they fear that the demonstrations by the opposition parties could spill to the small towns. This is not acceptable because it stifles the peace and freedoms of residents.”
Police refused to discuss the deployment of its members in Masvingo town. Thirteen opposition parties under the banner of National Electoral Reform Agenda are demanding electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 general elections.