GWERU, MIDLANDS —
One resident, Timothy Mpofu, said it is frightening to members of the public to have so many anti-riot police on the streets without being informed about what security threat there is.
Another resident who only identified herself as Tinaye echoed similar sentiments saying such a presence of anti-riot police reminds him of a war situation.
Tinaye said, “As I was taking my kid to school yesterday, I was surprised to notice a lot of anti-riot police on the streets in town. Some people were quick to dismiss any fears as they said that the presence of the anti-riot police had to do with a demonstration over Zanu PF chairman Jason Machaya. But it was a very scary situation. Even my daughter asked me some difficult questions about what is going on.
“She thought the heavily-armed police were soldiers and she asked if there was going to be a war. The situation is frightening us. We thought it was just for yesterday but they were on the streets again today.”
Sources say the presence of the anti-riot police was in anticipation of an intended demonstration by some war veterans and suspected Zanu PF supporters in protest over the recent alleged ouster of the party's provincial chairperson, Jason Machaya, by members supporting one of the factions fighting for political turf in Zanu PF.
Studio 7 was not able to get a comment from the local police and provincial war veterans' chairperson Terry Shumba.
But Cornelius Mupereri, the Zanu PF provincial information and publicity secretary, refuted the claims that some members of the party wanted to stage demonstrations saying there was no such plans.
Development Studies lecturer Didymus Dewa of the Zimbabwe Open University, speaking as an independent analyst, echoed sentiments that the factional fights in Zanu PF could erupt into widespread violence.
Dewa said although it is proper for the police and armed forces to be on alert all the time, they should not do anything that could create unnecessary tension or instill fear in members of the public.
While agreeing that Zanu PF squabbles could have wider consequences, Brian Dube, the national spokesperson of the MDC-T's youth wing said the police must not be used as an appendage of the Zanu PF party.
Meanwhile, the Zanu PF Midlands Women's League on Wednesday re-elected five members to be part of the women's quota in the party's Central Committee.
The five include Auxillia Mnangagwa, the wife of Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Tsitsi Muzenda, daughter of the late vice president Simon Muzenda.
Sources tell Studio 7 that although the election went without incident, there was also a heavy police presence at the Zanu PF Convention and Conference Centre just outside Gweru.